The coronavirus pandemic has upended life. Unlike a natural disaster that hits over the course of a few days and then shifts to the clean-up efforts, this virus poses an ongoing threat.
One major change occurring for families across the U.S. is that school-aged children are home from school, along with their parents, who are now working from home. This has ramped up the stress like what happens when you turn the pegs on a violin. How much pressure until the string breaks?
The AJT caught up virtually with Rachel Wasserman, executive director of the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta. Not only is she a dynamic force in our community, but the mother of four children, 8-year-old twins, a 10- and a 12-year-old. Her twins just celebrated their birthday but had to cancel their party because of COVID-19.
When asked in what ways her daily life has been altered, she said, “In nearly every way possible. I’m a very organized person who thrives on predictability, and, overnight, all of my systems went out the window.” She found herself working at home full time, in addition to homeschooling four children who normally attend a Jewish day school.
What about structuring the “new normal,” and how she prioritizes her responsibilities? Wasserman said she has several lists, some on paper and some in her head. She’s been doing extra work on the weekends and evenings to be available for her children during school hours. Scheduled, work-related Zoom meetings are productive, and the rest of the moving parts revolve around them. Otherwise, her focus is on the needs of her children.
The AJT asked what the most challenging part of staying home has been so far.
“Not having my regular, daily support systems in place. Several of my good friends have COVID-19 and I’m worried about their health.” Always conscious of the impact on her children, she tries to remain calm.
What are you doing to maintain your good health and sanity? Wasserman diligently exercises every day, often with her children. Not only is it keeping her physical body fit and healthy, it has been “the most effective form of stress relief.”
She strictly limits the amount of news she watches, checks in with the CDC website every few days, and has limited her time on social media because it has actually made it more difficult to cope.
Wasserman created fun activities for her children and set reasonable expectations, and she encourages them to rest and relax. She said they’re “doing well, are incredibly resilient, and they impress me every day.”