August 10, 2020
Along with the dangers of spreading COVID-19, the period of mandatory quarantine presented itself with many different challenges for families to overcome. People with young children had to help maintain their schoolwork while simultaneously balancing their own work schedules or deal with unemployment and the inability for life to be as it once was. Many families have struggled with job loss, resulting in over two million Michigan citizens receiving unemployment aid since the coronavirus pandemic began. Struggles such as these added even more stressors to an already troublesome time. Living through a pandemic while trying to manage a household with children, pets and other adults is not an easy challenge to overcome. Yet, millions of people have accomplished it and learned a lot about family members in the process.
Rachel Gorday, a health and wellness consultant, learned to balance motherhood while working amidst a pandemic. As the coronavirus began rapidly spreading, she began quarantine with her husband, son and a “crazy puppy.” Her son, Nicholas, had to continue his schooling from home, and like parents everywhere, Gorday had to ensure he stayed on the right track.
“We stuck to the school schedule similar to being inside a building. We started around eight a.m., reviewed prayers, blogs and other information and then he started working through each subject. At the end of the day, all materials were reviewed by subject and then we uploaded all homework into the appropriate apps,” she says. In addition to keeping him focused, Gorday also had to make sure he was actually learning and receiving a good education.
“Our school did a tremendous job. We started distance learning after a one week mandatory Easter break, which gave our teachers and staff time to create everything. He had conference calls via Zoom, individual check-in calls from the teachers and staff, homework in all subject areas including specials and laboratory and art projects. Everyone was helpful and available for assistance. Other than technology issues, we sailed through the program successfully, although very tired,” she explains. As a family, Gorday says they kept each other entertained as best as possible with games, walks and movies and communicating with friends online. As for how the family got along with each other, Gorday says, “It was strained from being around each other constantly, as well as being frustrated with technology, but it definitely gave us a glimpse into what each of us actually does daily.”
Katy Carter had a similar experience, as she entered quarantine with her husband and two children, aged five and under. Carter describes the initial difficulty she faced going into quarantine, saying, “In the very beginning it was challenging to balance work, being a parent, being a spouse and finding time for yourself. The children had a hard time understanding why they couldn’t play with friends and go places. Tension was high for everyone the first few weeks.”
Just like countless other families, it was difficult to teach her young daughter school work from home. “Keeping on track for school was important for us but was very hard for our daughter who did not enjoy utilizing Zoom. Over time she got used to the environment and slowly started to engage with the class. We make sure that we put the Zoom calls on the calendar and continue to work the assignments given. We invested in purchasing workbooks and taking advantage of some of the free apps that were offered to parents.” As a family, Carter and her husband made sure they still spent quality time together with movie nights, cooking together, doing crafts and reading. She notes that the slower pace that quarantine brought was an unexpected positive.
Carter tries to see the good in the lessons that quarantine taught her about her family. “There were days that were very challenging and overwhelming, but overall we are grateful for the time we have been able to spend together. With working parents and busy schedules you often lose the ability to slow down and really enjoy quality time together. I will forever be grateful to have the ability to spend more time with my children, it is just unfortunate that it came because of so many getting sick. We remain grateful for all time together to make memories we will remember forever.”
Despite the struggles faced by families everywhere, quarantine taught many lessons about the people who we thought we knew. Lockdown was a chance to learn more about ourselves, our family and our friends. As we continue to take precautions against the coronavirus, it is important to keep our loved ones’ health and safety in mind. Let’s continue to take care of each other and practice social distancing, washing our hands and wearing a mask.
Claire Bahorski is a junior at Michigan State University studying Human Capital and Society and Humanities Pre-Law, with concentrations in Public and Professional Writing and History. In her free time, she loves spending time with her friends and family and watching movies. She hopes to always continue writing, along with her aspirations of becoming an attorney.