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Full-time family and full-time work during the coronavirus has led to stress and unexpected joy

Rita Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Parenting News

What they didn't count on were the blessings.

In a society probably oversold on quality time, some parents are finding that there is something to be said for quantity time -- that is to say, time to just to be together, to discover each other. As trying as this making-it-up-as you-go multitasking may be, some people say they're learning things about their family members that they didn't know -- or just didn't get to notice before. In some cases, new bonds are forming.

And, sure, there is a lot about what used to be normal that they'll be psyched to get back to. But as parents and children have pulled toward each other in these months, the joys they did not foresee have some of them rethinking what family time should look like going forward.

Jessica Kendorski is chair of the department of school psychology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. As the mother of two children (ages 8 and 10) who has also been working from home, the impact of COVID-19 on family life has been more than academic.

"It's been like a hard stop in people's lives, and now they can be reflective of their individual values in a way they were too busy to even think about until now," Kendorski said.

While she misses her son's soccer games and her daughter's gymnastics, a part of her now is now questioning the need for so much time spent in scheduled activities, driven by goals like enhancing college prospects. "'Can't I just be with them?'" she is asking herself.


She suspects she's not the only parent undergoing the self-examination:

"This may be a quote-unquote new morning for people. When we go back to normal, whenever that is, 'What do I want to embrace and what do I want to purge? Am I really spending my days the way I want to spend my days?'"

It's a full house these days at the Burke residence in Oreland.

Meredith Burke, 36, on leave from the Quakertown school district, is full-time with daughters Nora, 1, and Delaney, 3. Padraic Burke, 36, a human resources manager working from home for now, has colonized the basement as a workspace. He's helping with the girls, but he's quick to give Meredith her props; there's a romantic weekend planned in New Hope when all this is over.


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