Even with the best intentions, sometimes unanticipated circumstances dictate the lay of the land for a while. What takes priority? Can one afford to pay full attention to all their kids’ needs, or, given the current state of affairs, throw in the towel and hope for the best?
As of today, Premiere Doug Ford extends all COVID-19 emergency orders to June 30, to help combat the spread of Coronavirus. For exhausted parents, it feels like a lifetime.
On-campus classes might not resume until September — despite reports that children are struggling with remote learning. Online learning—especially for those without prior familiarity with these methods—is not all it’s cracked up to be in ads and gossip.
Looking on what there is of a bright side: Everyone’s in this mess together. There’s some odd comfort in that for some. Here, three of our local residents tell the CityPlace Residents’ Association (CPRA) how they’re managing all the good, the bad, and the (sometimes) almost impossible.
“It’s a lot of work”, says Nicole Sparks, a working mother of three in Cityplace, the densely populated neighborhood in the Fort York/Spadina area most of us call home. Like millions of urban parents, she’s been struggling to educate her kids in their two-bedroom apartment.
With her 17-year-old son and eight-year-old boy at different stages in school, Nicole is taking it day-by-day.
“I have my own career, mental health, and the mental health of my children to keep in check,” says the 36-year-old mom, who is a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at a senior’s home; sometimes working double shifts to serve the elderly.
“That means taking multiple showers daily, for one thing. “One before work and one before getting home.” Managing one’s time and being able to think fast on your feet has become routine for all parents now.
Elsberry (from elder berry) is something Nicole has been giving her kids (including her sickly six-year-old son Nicholas, to help his immune system.) Nicholas’s left lung had been failing. The good news is that he’s fully recovered and healthy now. Still, some times FaceTime is the only way he gets to say goodnight to his mom. Nicole often works the late shift at the senior home where she is currently employed.
“To be safe, sometimes I don’t come home to shower, but at work in the common shower. Then leave my work clothes with the cleaning staff to launder my uniform.
“Everyone is naturally edgy, running low on masks and gloves.” But the one thing Nicole says she’s noticed is the general kindness of some people. In one case, a dentist helped by delivering PPE to her facility.
Laura Bloom is a psychotherapist and social worker with her own private practice offering counseling services. Laura specializes in “brain rewiring” techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety through neuroplasticity. (The proportion of grey matter and synapses that strengthen over time; which measures the ability of the brain to change continuously throughout one’s lifetime, even to the far side of adulthood).
“I like to think of it as, difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations,” says Laura. As you might expect, business is thriving right now, as people struggle to adjust to the many contingencies facing us all right now. Everyone’s feeling the pressure.
“Taking care my own health and giving myself permission to have a few bad days. Also, missing in-person contact with people; now replaced with video. For which I am grateful.
How does she manage her time? “I’ve also cut-out the overindulgence with media.” Putting on her cloth mask and preparing to go out for a walk in the neighbourhood. Laura’s advice: “Be in the present moment.”
Brikiti (37),a single Mom with five children, says she has no option but manage one-day-at-a-time. With no personal income and several dependents, she struggles each day just keeping it together. Pre-pandemic times: Brikiti had depended on friends and neighbours to give her work as a babysitter. Now, she, like so many others in dire straits, is out of work.
Lastly, Nicole Sparks says she is most concerned about the elders in our CityPlace neighborhood. Here’s a list of those concerns:
- The care of our elders requiring patient attention.
- Having reasonable access to essentials such as food and comfort.
- Keeping our kids safe, active and entertained. For example, games, routine handwashing, and wiping down devices. “We even use Popsicle sticks to hit elevator buttons”, says Nicole.