Today, many are literally doing it all — serving as teacher, full-time employee, chef, cleaner, entertainer, you name it. At the same time, they’re also being “mom” — trying to bring a sense of normality to their children, protecting them, calming their fears, explaining why they can’t go to school or see their family and friends, why they have to wear masks, stay distanced from others and wash their hands constantly.
Our previous blog, “Teacher, Parent & Working Full-Time: Advice from Moms Who are Doing it all“, focused on those moms who are home with young children. In this post, we wanted to share the very different, although not necessarily less challenging stories of those who are home with older children.
While they may be old enough to sign into a computer on their own, this older age group (10+) are missing out on those key milestones of their young adult time including social interaction, extra-curriculars, prom and for some, even graduation.
Lorraine Muñoz, Relocation Assistant, is a mom of two teens (16 & 18) and says that her heart aches for her kids, especially her high school senior whose year changed drastically.
“As a Mom, his #1 fan, supporter and life coach…it’s hard to see him struggle to process it all,” said Lorraine.
Sharon Rudolph, International Move Management Coordinator, agrees. Both she and her daughter had been looking forward to celebrating her daughter’s graduation from Penn State on Mother’s Day.
“We will still celebrate her day virtually and with happy hearts,” exclaimed Sharon. “But it will be different that what we had both imagined.”
The other big challenge with all this is the different teacher role parents play for the older children; rather than helping with homework, parents need to ensure their kids are awake, signed in, learning, engaging, and doing their schoolwork.
Oleta Downey, Workforce Mobility Counselor, says one solution to the challenge of getting her kids (age 10, 11 & 18) to stay engaged in their schoolwork, is to get creative.
“We’ve been trying to keep the kids engaged. They each have to pick an educational documentary type show to watch each day and then we talk about it at dinner. They also have to read for at least an hour every day,” said Oleta.
Malú López-Llamozas, Client Services Manager, recognizes that the flexibility that serves her well in her job, has been key during this time home with her two children, 19 and 25 years of age.
My biggest recommendation in extraordinary times, is reasonable flexibility. Recognizing that there are many circumstances outside of our control, allows us to adjust to make it work for all.Malú López-Llamozas
Jennifer Browne, Manager, Client Services agrees and adds that flexibility might vary between your children.
“Knowing how best to support each of them as individuals can help them succeed during this time. My daughter who just turned 11 gets up, logs onto her laptop and does her work independently; my soon to be 16-year-old son on the other hand, is the complete opposite, he’s a night owl and someone who needs to be reminded several times a day to do his homework.”
Jennifer Connell, VP Advisory Services, can also relate as she has three teenage boys at home and sometimes wonders if she lives with vampires, from their late nights to sleeping during the day and even the questionable diet!
“I realized that older kids don’t always internalize and articulate their troubles, including the current pandemic, much better than little ones. From my perspective, early bedtimes and chore lists no longer apply. I haven’t thrown all of the rules out the window, but while we shelter in place, I’ve left the window wide open! For us, that means my oldest son making a grilled cheese sandwich at midnight, playing pool with my middle son at 5:00am (I won, by the way) and when my youngest asked if his older brother could shave his head, I said what any mom would say: ‘Hold on, I need my camera for this!” laughs Jen.
For Lisa Curto, Network Manager, her high school kids are pretty self-sufficient, so she just has to make sure they’re up and signed into school by 9:30am.
“I’ve noticed the smell of bacon helps to wake them up!” exclaimed Lisa.
Regardless of the challenges, without a doubt these moms agree that the silver lining in all of this is the extended time that families are sharing together. With older kids typically busy with friends, school and extracurriculars, having this extra time as a family is so important.
Lisa Meyer, Senior Relocation Counselor, agrees. With a busy house full of two college students, and a junior in high school, Lisa encourages parents to stop and breathe often. “Enjoy every day for what it is, and be grateful,” she says. “Realize that you are going to miss this someday, take the time to make some memories and try not to spend too much time in worry.”
We’re all looking forward to getting back to our normal routines someday but until then, it’s these family moments that I hope they’ll remember.Jen Connell
For Lorraine Muñoz, she has worked full time for the last 20+ years and for the first time in her kids life, she is a stay at home mom!
“The time I have gotten to spend with them…the board games, and puzzles till two in the morning, the goofy pranks and movies, the laughs, serious conversations, the interesting little tidbits that get normally overlooked. To me this part is priceless… absolutely priceless,” said Lorraine.