Advice

Parenting During the Time of COVID

We asked members of student organizations about what it was like to go to school and work while parenting kids during the time of COVID.

Update: On Monday, October 19, we had a student panel on this topic, with the students below. View the recording here.

Our Contributors:

We are hosting a student-led panel with blog contributors on Monday, October 19 from 5:30-6:30. Click here to register.

Cristyn A.—Bachelor of Business Admin. Single mom of 3 kids (middle school and high school). Student orgs: Families United and Omega NU. San Diego region.

Luis R. –Bachelor of Science, Nursing. Married with 3 kids (all elementary school). Student orgs: NUSNA, San Diego. San Diego Region.

Jacqueline M.—Master of Education, School Psychology. Married with two kids (college and elementary). Student org: Mind, Body, Wellness Student Organization. Imperial Valley region.

Ryan Z.—Master in Public Health (’20). Married with one child (a toddler and another on the way!). Student orgs: MPH Student Organization. Houston, TX region.

Lisa S.—Bachelor of Science, Nursing. Separated, one second grade son.  Student orgs: NUSNA, Fresno. Fresno region.

Micoy G.—Bachelor of Science, Nursing. Married, two kids (elementary). Student orgs: NUSNA, San Diego. San Diego region.

Christen V.—Bachelor of Elementary Education. Married, four children (from high school to elementary). Student orgs: Omega NU, Families United, Pride @NU. San Diego Region.

Whisper T. Master’s in Counseling, MFT. Widowed, one toddler.  San Diego Region.

“It’s a different type of new school year, but special just the same.” Luis R.

How did you handle time management when, suddenly, you were going to have to add full-time childcare/homeschooling to your already-packed life?

Jacqueline:

I quickly saw the need for a structure and routine. I decided to wake up before my children and get some quiet time to do assignments. Doing this helps me have a little more time to help them in their schoolwork.

I asked my kids to develop their own schedule to follow. I believe if they develop it themselves it will be easier for them to stick to it.  

Honestly, we try to follow the schedule, but we have also learned that it is ok when we can’t get it all done. Maintaining a good mental health has become a priority in my household

Lisa:

Time management is definitely a struggle for me, even before. Now, I find myself putting everything into my phone tasks/calendar with reminders. Everything goes in there including needing to get dog food or grocery shop. I cannot remember anything without a reminder.

“Creating a space that resembles a classroom has helped re-create the ‘school vibe'”- Luis R.

To be honest, I’m not proud of how I’ve handled things. I mean, we are both alive and functioning for the most part so that is a win right. I have learned grace during this time though. I have ridiculous standards for myself and I’ve been learning to let those go a little. Sometimes it is okay if the success of the day is that my son and I have both eaten and taken showers. Other days are more productive with the day ending in checks being in all the boxes of my to do list.

Christen:

I have created checklists for each one of my children. They have a daily schedule that helps me tremendously that keeps us on track. I have that pinned in the kitchen and in their rooms. I created that myself.

Juggling supervising the education of three kids, working from home, and going to school, Cristyn A. has learned to let go of some the guilt when she can’t be the “best” at everything all of the time.

Whisper:

My number one job as a mother is to make sure my son feels secure and comfortable in our home even with the pandemic.

I also try to keep a loose routine. We get up in the morning I make coffee, and my son breakfast. We put on some music and dance around kitchen. Then I create my to do list. Trying to make sure I have times set apart for conference calls, talking with clients and doing schoolwork. It’s a blessing going to National University and the flexibility that when my son goes down for a nap, I can log on to blackboard and do a few assignments without taking time away from him. It’s scary for a two-year-old when everything has changed so quickly so keeping a semi routine of bed, meals, and activities helps him feel a sense of stability.

Where there any NU resources you used that you would like to share with others as particularly helpful to you as you juggled work, school, and homeschooling?

Cristyn:

I firmly believe SilverCloud and the “how to handle anxiety’ course.  I found that as parents, we hold in an extreme amount of guilt, especially now.  I want to be the best parent, give them the best education, feed them good meals, have them live in a clean house, provide for them by doing well at work, and provide for their futures by getting a good education.  I can’t juggle all those balls at the same time, regardless of my desiresSilverCloud helped me learn to stop negative thinking and to take a second to find myself and be in the moment with some meditations. 

Don’t let the camo sweatpants fool you! Finding a set-up for working or learning at home is all about what works for you. Listen to your body and make sure you’ve got a healthy set up and are taking enough breaks to keep the blood moving.

Jacqueline:

I think the most helpful resource NU has provided for me is including me in a community of caring individuals. I was also able to contribute to this culture by forming the Mind, Body, and Wellness Student Organization. We are students who work out together and inspire each other. From weights to yoga, we offer structured space for workouts and community. We were really fortunate that NU’s Manager of Student Wellness agreed to be our staff advisor. Ashley is amazing and her office offers so many great resources.

From Luis R.: When everyone is home together all day long, giving kids alone time away from their siblings becomes extra important. In our family, we also make sure to have individual projects to allow for one-on-one bonding with each child. One favorite project is trying out new recipes together!

Micoy:

Mentor Me because as a mentee and a mentor. It made me feel secure knowing that I have this as a resource that I can use to reach out to a mentor for encouragement and support; and as mentor,  it felt good knowing that I am able to pay it forward and able to help others and share my knowledge and experience to anyone who may need my assistance and advice.

It was also this time that I started using Portfolium—which all NU students have access to through their Single Sign On page—more and appreciated its use.  I like that I can upload and store in Portfolium any updates or schoolwork that I recently completed.  This not only serves as a filing system for me but also something that I look back on from time to time to reflect on the work I’ve done and  how far I’ve come on working for my degree.

Luis:

My professors have made themselves more available than ever for virtual 1-1 meetings. In those meetings I’ve been able to seek out professional and academic guidance while also simply interacting with people who are subject matter experts in the field I chose to study at National. Further, OmegaNU and Families United put together a list of resources for the CSEA page.

Sometimes an extra pillow or better headphones can make a huge difference in one’s learning environment.

Ryan:

I definitely lean on student organizations and clubs. Whether you are a student or alumni, clubs can bring people together and provide an opportunity to ask for advice, gain perspective, or just share a story of success (or frustration).

Our programs at NU extend beyond the classroom, whether on campus or online.

Stay tuned for more student voices coming soon. And be sure to check out “What’s NU?” for the latest updates on Center for Student Engagement & Activities events.

To join a club, email us at clubs@nu.edu.

community engagement

Meet CSEA Leadership: Patricia and Julia

Patricia Cardozo and Julia McMillan are the leadership team for the Center for Student Engagement and Activities. Read below to find out what’s coming up for student orgs.

Patricia: Hi, Everyone. Julia and I are the leadership team for CSEA. in April 2018, I was given the opportunity to lead this department, became chair of NUSO (National University Student Organization) Board of Directors, and created CSEA, so that student organizations would have centralized support. Julia came onboard to create the infrastructure with me, and we are really excited to work with student organizations!

Julia: Hi, All! It’s been a great experience to partner with Patricia in getting student organizations really up and running at NU. It’s such a privilege to get to work closely with students, staff, and faculty to help turn your ideas and goals into reality. We have a unique student body, and I appreciate that what works for other universities might not work for you. We’re here to find creative ways to make this part of your education just as valuable as what you learn inside the classroom.

Patricia: One of our main goals as a department is to enhance your educational experience at NU through supporting student organizations and creating intentional activities for you to join.

We hope to achieve this in many ways, one of which is through creating this blog. We invite everyone in student orgs to share your experiences in student leadership and going to school at NU by using this form.

Another way we want to support your experience is to organize activities you can attend, so that you feel part of the NU community.

This is why we are launching NU Engage. We invite all NU students to attend one night of this event! You will learn about clubs, participate in a club workshop or demo, meet club leadership, and win prizes.

It will be from 5-6 p.m., PDT, on Tuesday, September 29, Wednesday September 30, and Thursday, October 1.

On Wednesday, September 30, we will end at 5:30 to join Kim Mitchell’s Speaker Series talk. She’s NU’s amazing Senior VP of Military, Veteran’s and Gov’t Relations. If you have time, read her story.

We have a great line up of events for you in October. Some highlights are below:

On October 8, we have a special workshop from our own Matt Medeiros, Chief Compliance Officer, on Public Policy and Citizenry. (Registration link.)

We will also launch the blog, Parenting During COVID. On October 19, the blog contributors will have a student discussion on obstacles and success they have encountered while parenting, going to school, and working. We invite you to come and participate in the discussion. (Click here to register.)

There are more events scheduled that you can check out either on What’s NU this Month? or the official Activities Calendar. We will update this the first week of every month.

We’re also excited to launch the new look of the Center for Student Engagement and Activities website. Please email us your club photos, if you would like to be featured on this site or CSEA. (Use clubs@nu.edu)

If you want more info on clubs, please go to either CSEA links or our official NU CSEA page. Contact us anytime at clubs@nu.edu.

We can’t wait to meet you!

Our best,

Patricia + Julia

Advice

School, work, and Sanity as an Essential Worker During a Pandemic

Young female student nurse in scrubs poses with an iced coffee
Annie Jensen, student nurse and NU Scholar

Annie Jensen, BSN student

NU Scholar, Oct 2019 Cohort, Fresno Region

bal·ance

/ˈbaləns/

If there is anything I’ve learned from taking 100’s of yoga classes, it’s that balance can make or break your success. As an essential worker in this pandemic, my stress level has increased due to the higher demand for health care workers along with the stress of becoming an online learner. I would not have been able to survive this unconventional time without keeping a steady balance between my school, work, and activities.

Taking Charge of my Education

A counselor once told me the only person in charge of my education was me. Little did I know this would take on a whole new meaning in 2020. Not being able to physically be at school in the last six months has forced me to take my accountability for my education to a new level. Although it has been more difficult, finding activities to do as a study tool has helped me learn the information faster and doubles as a form of entertainment while in quarantine. For example, when I’m memorizing flash cards, every flash card I get wrong I do 5 jumping jacks. This activity encourages me to get some exercise in while learning the information. And we actually learn and retain information better when we’re physically active!

Work-Life Balance

Young white woman in nursing scrubs, with badge, surgical mask, eye mask
Masks can be scary for little kids, especially in a healthcare setting. A goofy thumbs-up is a smile that everyone can share.

As a self-diagnosed workaholic, keeping a work-life balance is easier said than done – but acknowledging this in myself is the first step. I feel so incredibly blessed to be an essential worker during this time and having the opportunity to still work full time. At the same time, balancing work and school has always been difficult for me, and has been increasingly more difficult with the high demand for healthcare workers right now. I know many individuals are, instead, having to take a step back from work because of the situation at hand. Nonetheless whether you’re not working enough or are putting in overtime, finding a good balance is always important. In the past few months I’ve realized I need to calm my mind before going to bed. One thing that has helped me is getting back into guided meditation for 10 minutes at the end of my night. If you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and are having too much relaxation time, I’ve found maintaining a consistent routine and structure to be helpful. Whatever you’re “normal” is, try to keep the same schedule by doing house projects, exercising, or reaching out to people you know who are alone during this time. You’ll not only put a smile on someone else’s face, but this has been found to be a great way to boost your own social-distance blues.

Keeping my head in the game

Young white woman with long dark hair and sunglasses, sitting in a car, very excited about an iced coffee
For me, an iced coffee is the perfect treat and excuse to take a few minutes for myself. How are you creating some small moments for self care during this time?

Working as much as I do and going to school full time, I don’t have very much free time. At the beginning of this quarantine I would push through week by week going without time for myself and I got burned out fast. I realized that I needed to change something, fast. I started experimenting by doing home workouts twice a week or watching an episode of Criminal Minds, just basically doing anything that made me not have to critically think for 45 mins. This decision transformed me into a new person. Just by doing one activity a week whether it be working out, Netflix, or going to the Starbucks drive thru to get a coffee, I’m able to refresh myself back to my equilibrium. National University’s new Mind & Body Wellness Student Organization has been a great way to get in some workouts while connecting with peers.

Even though I haven’t had much time to myself during these past few months, I’ve actually learned a lot about who I am. I’ve figured out what my learning language is, what my limits are, and learned to appreciate the simple things. Most importantly I figured out how to balance my mind and body, and it’s helped guide my way to where I am now as a student and healthcare worker.