Home / Remote Resilience / Into the Unknown: Parents’ Journeys in a Remote Modality

Into the Unknown: Parents’ Journeys in a Remote Modality

BY TETTLEMA – MAY 6, 2020

Read more Remote Resilience stories.

By Corinna Busciglio Kamilli, Senior Communication Specialist, and Erin Morrow, Event Coordinator

Special thanks to our contributors: Danielle B. Steele, Agile Iteration Manager | Marissa Akins, Project Manager Associate | Jennifer Greenberg, Executive Administration Support

At 6 a.m., the alarm clock rings. Suddenly, the rush of the day is ahead and the thought of having to juggle numerous responsibilities strikes. Fortunately, the commute downstairs to start work is a quicker one than before and gives ample time to be productive before my most important job, being a mother, begins. 

Being a parent during a pandemic has been an interesting experience, to say the least. No two stories are the same, yet the common thread seems to weave into the experience each of us is balancing. At the start of the pandemic,  colleagues were brought together by these similar experiences in a Slack channel dedicated to the triumphs and tribulations of remote working with children. This community has been an uplifting place to go when you need to speak with others who know exactly what you are experiencing.

Parents from across the ASU enterprise have come together to celebrate the ups and help with the downs of this unprecedented time. Here are first-hand stories of what it’s like to run a household, be a teacher, a chef and balance your ASU life at the same time.

Danielle B Steele, Agile Iteration Manager, UTO Strategic Implementation Office: 1-year-old at home

Danielle B Steele, Agile Iteration Manager, UTO Strategic Implementation Office: 1-year-old at home

Spending my third trimester while working from home with my husband and our nearly 1.5-year old daughter during this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. Yes, it's been exhausting, scary, and challenging,  but in the same day or even the same hour, it has also been incredibly joyful, rewarding and humbling. The adjustment took a few weeks, but with our partnership and the support of our respective workplaces, we've finally found a rhythm that works for us -- until the baby arrives! Thankfully, we know we'll make the best of our situation then, too.

Jennifer Greenberg, Executive Administration Support, UTO Admin: 7-year-old at home

Jennifer Greenberg, Executive Administration Support, UTO Admin: 7-year-old at home

My day starts off early with a large mug of coffee; sitting in silence on the outside patio while birds chirp and wind-chimes knell all around. This is literally the only reflective hour I will have for the day. Then, with the might of buzzing bees, I’m met with the full force of sounds of my home. The barking dog, an overconfident news anchor on an unattended television, the sound of my husband’s shaver and a hungry 7-year-old tugging at my shirt. I quickly scan the commitments of our pieced-together Outlook calendar, which holds the day’s commitments of my work meetings, my husband’s work meetings, classroom Zoom sessions, my school assignments, their school assignments, virtual play-dates, reminders to check in on parents, reminders to stand or eat. Scheduled time for silent reading and to feed the dog. Scheduled time to put in an online grocery order, grade school work and to work on that project deadline. Scheduled time to fit in unscheduled time. It’s time for my 8 a.m. meeting.

Erin Morrow, Event Coordinator, UTO Creative + Communications: 12- and 15-year-olds at home

Erin Morrow, Event Coordinator, UTO Creative + Communications: 12- and 15-year-olds at home

Erin and family

I have older kids, 12- and 15-years-old. They are great about starting their school day at 8 a.m., attending their Zoom classes and working on assignments all morning without fail. Around lunchtime, the questions on the assignments they didn’t understand or the need to tell someone what they have done so far start rolling in. It can be difficult to provide the focus and knowledge they need from me at this time. I am doing my best to remember high school math and edit the most recent history paper, but I am also needed to finish my own papers and assignments. Once we make it past that hurdle,  they are looking for something to do when the classwork is over and there are still way too many hours left in the day (there are only so many times you can watch Friends). While we are finding small ways to keep connected, help the community, be creative and not get on each other’s nerves, the days are long and are very draining. It is hard but I am proud of how we are handling it as a team, and in a strange new twist we are closer than before. We are counting down the days until we can go to museums, have game nights and go on vacation!

Marissa Akins, Project Manager Associate, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College: 6- and 10-year-olds at home

Marissa Akins, Project Manager Associate, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College: 6- and 10-year-olds at home

I can tell you that quarantine has many phases. Some days I'm ready to go and some days I want to hit rewind and just start over. My family is fortunate because more often than not, we have good days at home. I wake before everyone at 5:10 a.m. to work out, shower, and start my workday around 7. My husband and kids wake around 8:30 and soon after is my first "break" from one job to start another. We make breakfast, clean up and get ready for school. It's very important for us to maintain our routine even if we have a late start every day! 

My kindergartner works on worksheets, interactive Google Slides, crafts and reading, all of which need help from me or my husband, while my 4th grader works quite independently on grade-level math and reading. We take up other subjects with an app called Adventure Academy, as needed. While I work in the new makeshift dining room office, and my husband in our actual office, we're making it work day by day. Feeling fortunate for health, cuddly evenings on the couch and lots of home-cooked meals (oh, and those dishes!), we're hanging in there! While I don't know what normal looks like in the future, I'm trying to make the best of the time we have now.

From babies to teenagers, and everyone else in between, it’s powerful to know we are all in this together as a community. Finding ways to help our colleagues during this time has been important for us all. Having a supportive family, friends and bosses who allow flexibility when the pressures of the world seem overwhelming has been invaluable. 

Please join us on the ASU-wide #remote-working-live-parenting Slack channel. It’s a great way to connect and share the ups and downs of our new way of life. This community is here to support you through resources, bringing you stories to make you smile or just to share a friendly hello with others.

As ASU continues to monitor COVID-19, the university has transitioned from in-person teaching and learning to remote options. In this challenging time, however, the collective innovation of ASU faculty and staff has demonstrated remarkable adaptability. As a method of celebrating the good during uncertain developments, the University Technology Office is gathering success stories of “remote resilience” from the ASU community. The situation globally and across the country is changing daily, but we also plan to share these stories to keep pace.