Little girl holding onto parents leg

Just in case the life of a nurse isn't crazy enough, let's send the kids home and turn the nurses into teachers! While it's helpful to know we are all in the same boat, it can often feel like we're sinking quickly. I scoped the internet and polled some nurses who are on the front lines both at work and at home to see how they are managing it all. Here are some tips we came up with.

Nurse Insight

Katie K - Manages the chaos by maintaining a schedule. She is a mom of three boys in elementary school and only does schoolwork on her days off. During breaks, she does laundry and makes meals. "We are on week three and it seems to be getting easier," she said.

Alisha L - Has her hands full as a single mother of four. She is still working full-time while juggling school curricula for her children in PreK, 3rd, 6th, and 7th grade. "We wrote out a schedule for each kid with chores, on-screen activities, off-screen activities, and built-in playtime," says Alisha. "We do a devotional each morning and get lunch at school." Alisha also notes that her house is "a disaster." "I've always been a parent who looks for museum trips and STEAM fairs, but that's impossible when everything is closed."

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Jess S - Has three kids and works a night shift. She already owns her own business outside the hospital, and admits that this new way of life is "definitely a juggling act". Like Katie K., Jess depends on a solid schedule. She maintains a weekly calendar of what homework needs to be done each day, and they work on it before and after lunch. "I do my business stuff first thing in the morning or at night when I don't work at the hospital," says Jess. She notes that they aim to do something physical and creative every day, but "there was one day where we literally watched movies all day." She also explains that she's been utilizing Instacart for groceries (be prepared for the challenge of finding available times) and doing as many things online as possible. "I'm really trying to give myself and my kids grace right now and not push so hard to be in a constant rush, and my husband and I have both noticed that our kids seem happier and we feel much closer as a family. As much of a challenge as it is, I'm actually kind of loving not having a tight schedule we have to follow!"

Erika L - Has a more laid-back approach, noting that she is "going with the flow" and "focusing on the good every day to stay positive." She says, "My kids do about an hour or two of work every day and I figure out schoolwork in the afternoons because I work nights. I am grateful that they are old enough to care for themselves while I sleep; so many have it worse than me."

Beth F - Keeps it especially real by saying, "We aren't (keeping it together). We are just doing all we can do to get by day by day."

Based on what I learned from over 90 nurses' responses in less than 12 hours, it's clear that nobody really has it all figured out, and that's okay. This was thrown at us unexpectedly, and it's important to give ourselves time to adjust to this new way of life.

RELATED: How to Manage Your Stress as a Nurse

Tips From the Experts

Laura Vanderkam, the author of 168 Hours - You Have More Time Than You Think, told the Washington Post that it's ideal to try and get two or three tasks done early in the morning to feel slightly accomplished before starting the children's work.

Another tip from the article is to create a space for each child to learn. As much as we would like to tell them to work wherever, think about setting up a little "office" for each child to help them feel comfortable with their new routine.

After exploring the research, the overarching tip I gathered is to make the pieces fit for your family during these challenging times. There is no wrong or right way to handle it besides continuing social distancing, loving your family, and taking things one day at a time.

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Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB
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