Parenting in COVID times is next-level business: Stuffy noses, diaper changes, homework duty and regularly scheduled snacks have all morphed into an unwieldy frenzy of kid-friendly PPE, “e-learning,” stir-craziness and, somehow, even more snacks.
And the parents who are actually allowed to leave the house are often frontline medical workers, facing the true ills of the pandemic head-on, all while balancing mom-and-dad duty in their off-hours. Endy’s new Healthcare Heroes initiative aims to provide some relief by donating mattresses to Canadian hospitals and frontline medical professionals, so they can get some much-needed rest. Here, two doctors share what it’s like to manage child-rearing alongside our current health crisis — and how a good night’s sleep goes a long way in keeping them sane.
Dr. Andrea Mosher, Fifth-Year Resident, Obstetrics and Gynecology, McMaster Hospital
I have two sons who are three-and-a-half and one-and-a-half. When the pandemic started,
in-person gynecology got put on hold almost completely, while labor and delivery went on as it did. There’s been a huge shift towards telemedicine, and in some ways, there’s an efficiency to that.
It’s always hard to be away from my kids, but there is a particular kind of uncertainty now. When the pandemic really started, I was still on mat leave for the first month. I went back to work in April, when my youngest was seven months old. Until I had my vaccine, when I would get home, the first thing I would do was go right to the shower, and do total decontamination. Clothes went straight into the hamper. I wouldn’t hug them until I was all clean.
When I’m at work, I’m in a different gear, and focused on patient care. Even at baseline, this job has long hours, so any time that I am at home with my boys is very precious. And I think this is even magnified more now; I’m soaking up every minute of it.
When my oldest was two-and-a-half, we talked to him about COVID. When we’d be outside, we’d talk about giving people space and wearing masks. It’s funny, he’s always loved his mask. It seemed like such a sad thing at first, but he has a dino one and a spaceship one, and he thinks they’re exciting to wear. More recently, he’s actually said the word “COVID” a few times.
We had no idea how long this was going to be a part of our lives, right? It’s obviously become our reality now. Over the last year, we haven’t been able to see cousins or their grandparents nearly as much, only as distance visits, when we’re allowed.
My second child was not a very good sleeper, so I have never underestimated the value of sleep. Having kids, you get a little less sleep, between wanting to see them and also with all the noise they make. I had a shift this past Friday and I used the Endy mattress for the first time — it was delightful. When we work overnight, we get a post-call day, when we’re off to recover. Even if I just take half-an-hour to do some stretches and focus on quiet time, it’s really restorative.
Rebecca Crone, Midwife, Uxbridge Community Midwives
I have four children: Penny is 13, Anson’s 11, Maxwell is 10 and Violet is eight. I’m a midwife in Ontario, and we’re considered a primary care provider. Obviously, it’s been challenging; I don’t think anyone can say that it hasn’t been. Being in healthcare can present some unique challenges. More than half of the midwives for Markham-Stouffville are also helping in the ICU. As midwives, we work in hospitals but also in clinics and in the community, conducting postpartum visits at home. We had to put a lot of measures in place in order to make sure that we’re keeping our clients, their families and our own families safe.
I try as much as I can not to bring the stresses of work home with me. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t filter through. There’s a lot of times when I go two or three days without seeing my kids, so they miss me, and I miss them immensely. When I come home, I can’t just smother them with hugs and kisses. I do discuss my work with my kids; I don’t go into graphic detail with them, but I’m honest. I think it’s important for them to know that difficult things happen in life and we can face them together.
Managing my sort of stress has really been a group effort, and I think it’s important to have a really strong support system. I’ve really leaned on my parents, my in-laws and especially my work colleagues for support. My husband is a teacher, so he’s quite involved — and really busy — as well.
My parenting style has always been pretty laid-back, and I think going through this last year has really reinforced how important that is to our family: Our philosophy, among the six of us, has really always been “we’re are all in this together.” We just want to make sure everybody is happy and healthy.
Any front-line worker, but really, any midwife will tell you that sleep is invaluable. Like, we truly cherish our sleep. With work, there’s always somebody paging me in the middle of the night, or one of my kids coming into bed, so having a quiet, comfortable bed from Endy in the hospital call rooms really does provide a necessary break. On shift, there’s always a person having a baby and then another coming in with one, so it’s really lovely to have a place to lay down somewhere. It’s a respite from the heaviness that we’re all facing.
Endy has donated over 10,000 mattresses to charity, and with the new Healthcare Heroes initiative, they are doubling down on outfitting Canadian hospitals and frontline medical professionals with comfortable mattresses and bedding, so they can get the rest they deserve. Canadians are encouraged to nominate their local hospital for a call room transformation at endy.com/donations.