Day 52: Sheltering at Home as a Working Parent

click to enlarge Maria Altman. - COURTESY MARIA ALTMAN
Maria Altman.

Maria Altman is an editor at St. Louis Public Radio overseeing the newscast, business and education units. She is currently living – and working – at home in St. Louis with her husband and two very opinionated children. Here's how that's going:

8 a.m.

Lure my daughter to breakfast with the promise of a biscuit.

Listen to audio about ethical concerns with how to triage COVID-19 patients.

Send said daughter into a mood when I ask her to put breakfast things away.

Try to lure daughter off her bunk bed in order to do schoolwork. (Amazingly hard to get an eight-year-old off the top bunk.)

Ask husband to convince daughter to do schoolwork.

Bribe daughter with the promise of a strawberry milkshake once schoolwork is finished.

8:30 a.m.

Read messages in Slack.

Look at Google Classroom to find out the homework for the day.

Read Google Slides on Native Americans to daughter, who suddenly wants to discuss Star Wars.

More compliant kid decides to read book about Crazy Horse out loud.

9 a.m.

Feeling depressed about having to discuss displacement/genocide of Native Americans.

Convince daughter that her illustrations for her poetry assignment are great and she should keep going!

9:30 a.m.

Zoom meeting!

Mute every few minutes as daughter spontaneously breaks into song.

10 a.m.

Edit radio spots about gas prices being low but about to shoot up.

Convince daughter to get dressed before her Google Meetup with class.

Try to convince daughter that we should get math done before the meeting at 10:30!

Explain that, no, it’s not a good idea to get pajamas back on again before doing math, just because we’ve got 30 minutes before Google Meetup.

Get daughter to concentrate on math with promise of toast and jelly.

10:30 a.m.

Get daughter set up for Google Class Meetup in her room! Thank God.

Edit web story on gas prices.

Listen to bioethical audio again.

Explain to eleven-year-old that no, the dishwasher is not clean. “But, Mom, all you have is time during quarantine!”

Stand with mouth hanging open.

Child apologizes.

Check in with reporter covering business reopening plan.

Assign story about someone who died. Hope it wasn’t because of COVID-19.

Boy says “your phone vibrates a lot.”


Read emails.

11:30 a.m.

Check in on daughter’s Google meeting. She’s now in her Maleficent costume. Wonder how that happened and hope it wasn’t visible to classmates.

Read more slack messages.

Husband walks in with flyers suggesting we move our cars for street-cleaning day.

Laugh about the neighbor who printed these … as there is nowhere to move cars since EVERYONE IS HOME.

Look up contributions Native Americans have made to society.

Try to print list.

Ask for husband’s help.

Ha! Nevermind! It printed!

12 p.m.

Ask daughter if she could make peanut butter and jelly for herself. No? Get started on grilled cheese.

Dump all baby carrots on floor because your son doesn’t know how to close a bag.

Explain to husband that you’re just putting them back in the bag, but you will wash them before putting them in another bag.

Manage not to burn grilled cheese this time while multi-tasking! Good job!

Heat up the leftover biscuits and gravy for myself, ignoring husband’s sad look. Suggest leftover fish. He declines.

1 p.m.

Marvel at how you and husband are encouraging eleven-year-old that, yes, it’s a great idea to start your own YouTube channel with neighbor kid! But, hey, he’s outside and not complaining!

Give list of Native American contributions to daughter who is properly impressed that we wouldn’t have popcorn, chocolate, vanilla, or gum without their brilliance.

Set up Flipgrid recording of daughter relaying her newfound knowledge to her class.

Marvel at her natural teacher tone.

Make promised strawberry milkshake.

Edit story about businesses reopening hopefully soon enough to save the economy but not so soon as to kill us all.

2 p.m.

Pat self on back for suggestion yesterday to daughter that learning how to play piano will allow her to play “Let It Go” ... as she’s now begging to practice.

Masters song and asks me to play duet.

Get misty-eyed.

Try to find husband so that he can hear duet. Still on Zoom meeting.

Edit radio spots on businesses reopening.

Read Slack messages.

Watch son’s first video on YouTube. Question judgment.

Play duet for husband. Manage to mess up multiple times while the beginner plays nearly perfectly. Nerves?

3 p.m.

Read Slack messages.

Dress up Barbies, some of which “look evil.”

Make comment about Dorian Gray.

Explain plot of The Picture of Dorian Gray for next twenty minutes after flurry of questions.

Find music for “Let It Go” after daughter makes multiple requests.

Show daughter how to play beginning of song.

Explain we have to buy the music before we can see entire song.

Daughter decides to delve into painting project to improve a picture I’ve saved since she was four.


She doesn’t care.

4 p.m.

Edit web on ethical concerns of triaging COVID-19 patients.

Tell son, no, I don’t have a funnel you can use to fill water balloons.

Find YouTube video on how to play “Let It Go” on ukulele after multiple requests.

Try to learn song, but daughter is VERY concerned that I don’t know where her brother is.

Explain that he’s outside and that it’s actually a VERY, VERY good thing that he’s off doing something other than playing video games or watching TV.

My seeming glee at not knowing where my son is upsets daughter.

Give up and give her TV time.

Read slack messages.

5 p.m.

Should make dinner but instead hide in my bedroom to finish Netflix movie with 98 percent approval rating for me.

Get slightly irritated that Netflix’s algorithm is spot on.

6 p.m.

Decide to make fettuccine because no one will complain.

Find daughter’s picture on kitchen table; it’s now completely black. Wonder if it’s a metaphor.

Son comes in with request for new “vlogging” camera for his one-day-old hobby.

Finish wine.

6:30 p.m.

Call son in from outside for dinner.

“How long will it take me to eat?” he asks.

Stand with mouth hanging open.

Family devours fettuccine. Son asks why there isn’t more.

“There’s leftover fish!” I say.

This time my husband eats it.

7 p.m.

Appreciate husband’s twisted suggestion we move cars to opposite side of street tomorrow, on the wrong day for street cleaning.

Know we won’t actually do it.

Zoom time with Grandma and Papa.

Son attempts to explain “vlogging.”

Daughter and I do the duet.

Nail it!

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