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Balancing work and single parenting during COVID-19

May 7, 2020
Jodi Horne
Tiffany Bishop

Lead Associate, Marketing Strategy, Fannie Mae

Stay-at-home orders are proving challenging for everyone — kids, parents, couples, singles — all of us. While others may be appreciative of an unusual amount of time to spend with family, I'm a single mom, so life isn't much different — it's just more intense.

For me, the recent changes have made it hard to manage caring for/homeschooling my child while feeling productive in my work. From 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., it's a delicate balance between focusing on Fannie Mae projects and setting up a distance learning activity. Calls are often interrupted by a mini-me interloper, and I rush to click the mute button so I can answer her never-ending supply of questions. And even with all the online resources, I still hear, “Mommy, I'm done. What can I do next?" every ten minutes or so. This is my new reality.

Finding the silver lining

I'm an optimistic person who always looks for the positive aspect of situations. This work from home/only leaving the house for groceries/homeschooling experience has already taught me a lot, such as:

  1. I'm not a fan of building Lego, but for my daughter I'll give it a go.
  2. The attention span of a five-year-old is no more than 30 minutes (unless they're watching TV, in which case it's infinite).
  3. Hosting 10 kindergartners for a virtual birthday party is utter chaos, but if it keeps her occupied during an important call then it's worthwhile.
  4. It's inevitable that I will confuse being on mute and not being on mute at least once a week, yet I'm lucky to have the technology available to even worry about it.
  5. I need to go easier on myself and lower my expectations. And then lower them again.

Each day is a new adventure. Some are good. Some are not so good. From the top down, Marketing & Communications leadership has been truly understanding. They've encouraged me to skip meetings, take breaks, or flex my schedule to allow for time to give my daughter my undivided attention. After several weeks of this, she now understands that the dining table is my office, and sometimes she needs to wait until a call ends before talking to me. Then something like this happens:

A: Mommy, do you know what I was doing while you were making lunch?
Me: No, what?
A: I was making a gift for you.
Me: What did I do to deserve a gift?
A: You fixed my bead necklace I broke and you helped me with my Lego. I never would have got so far as I did building, if not for you.

When your kid tells you something like that, your heart melts, you fight back the tears, and you remember that it really is all worth it. She may not understand what marketing is or what Fannie Mae does, but she sees a strong role model who is making it work. I'm her rock. She is mine. We will survive this pandemic together. Maybe I'll even learn to like building Lego.

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