COVID19 Parenting Work

Day 4: Some Thoughts

March 19, 2020

I had a very bad day yesterday. Hopefully today will be better.

A list of thoughts. No other format seems right this morning.

1- No one really knows what the right thing to do is. Since this event in unprecedented, there’s . . . well, no precedent. (Yes, Spanish flu was bad but in 1918 the world looked very different.) Honestly, I am tired of the squabbling and endless debate already. And so much anger on both sides.

2- It is very stressful to receive one plan and then have it be contradicted by another plan 3 hours later. But, that is what seems necessary now. It is hard to be a leader right now, and yet we’ve never been more dependent on good leadership.

3- That job that I love and am normally grateful to have? I didn’t have this event on my mental calculus when I wrote that post, or when I made the Big Life Choices that I did. (Did anyone?!) Right now, things are incredibly stressful and — in direct opposition to my own recent post! — I feel very sad that I cannot be fully there for the kids.

4- Sometimes it’s okay to cry. I had a full on sob session (upstairs in my “office”) yesterday. This scenario just sucks. For everyone. YES, I am lucky on so many levels — I know we are unlikely to starve, lose our financial security, or our health. BUT IT ALL STILL SUCKS and it’s okay to be sad about it even in the midst of an avalanche of cheery advice.

That’s enough for today. I hope return with some positivity tomorrow.


  • Reply Arden March 19, 2020 at 6:30 am

    It’s ok to be sad. You’re human first and foremost. Hugs to you.

  • Reply Sarah March 19, 2020 at 6:40 am

    I think we’re all allowed to feel “all the feels” right now, at as a pace that changes as rapidly as the news. I’ve been putting on a very brave face as I leave for work (husband looking desperate & least 1 out of 3 kids always crying) and vacillate between feeling heroic and thinking, WHAT AM I DOING HERE. (NP at an OB-GYN office.) My patients are incredibly grateful and it feels good to take care of them, but it’s really hard to be away from home.

  • Reply CBS March 19, 2020 at 7:04 am

    I had a long cry yesterday – I had ambitious but achievable plans for this work year, that felt crucial for getting me set-up for the next stage in my career, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to manage that for months, especially as it’s increasingly likely that my husband will be classed as essential and required to be in the office, leaving me on solo childcare duty and us exposed to illness. It’s definitely okay to feel all the feels.

  • Reply Sara March 19, 2020 at 7:07 am

    I cried for the first time yesterday, too. I had a feeling mid-week this week would be when things felt “real”. It’s incredibly hard. My kids have been amazing. Even my 5 year old isn’t *that* disappointed his b-day party was cancelled (this breaks my heart). I think he understands. Like you, we are lucky in so many ways, but it is so sad to see what’s going on around us. I work for a large bank and the financial effects are real on our customers. And it scares me because we probably are just hitting the top of the iceberg right now.

    I started using the Marco Polo video app with a few of my best friends from high school yesterday and it really brightened up my day to see them with their kids. Social media and the news are overwhelming right now and am limiting my consumption as much as possible.

    Hang in there! XO

  • Reply Gillian March 19, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Uncertainty is so difficult to manage for those of us who love to plan. The highlight of my day yesterday was watching my 4th grader meet via zoom with her amazing teacher and entire class. They were so excited to see one another, even virtually. I am just trying to focus on these moments of connection during this very challenging time.

  • Reply gwinne March 19, 2020 at 8:50 am


    I’m sorry, Sarah. I’m glad you’re posting daily. I’ll be doing that most days, too. I feel the need to connect to others in the world beyond my own town.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 19, 2020 at 9:15 am

      I’ll be reading your blog too!! (PS I did start Topeka School but it was a little too bleak for current mood so now i’m reading Kimemery Martin’s book! I am going to go back to Topeka. The library is closed so I guess I can keep it as long as i need to!)

  • Reply Marina March 19, 2020 at 9:09 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and listened to your podcast from the beginning but this is my first time posting. I felt it was the right time. I’ve been feeling sad, anxious and uncertain throughout this whole ordeal. My kids are 4 and 17 months and home with us now while we try to work (husband at least went part time to make it work). It’s hard. Really really hard. We need support with parenting during regular times but now it’s worse and we can’t get any help due to social distancing. I don’t think we always need to look for the bright side and it’s ok to admit that this situation just sucks.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 19, 2020 at 9:16 am

      It totally sucks. IT SUCKS. If you can maybe find one college student who would agree to only go to your home and theirs, it would be a potential solution if you need the help in order to work. I’m so so sorry!

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly March 19, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Yep, I cried yesterday too. With you all.

  • Reply Taryn March 19, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Thanks for being so honest and real. I’m sorry that you’ve been sad – you’re definitely not alone! I’ve been trying to stay positive, but it’s been tough. Hang in there and take care!

  • Reply Rachel March 19, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Thank you for being so open. ❤️ I think letting ourselves be sad can help make it easier to move through

  • Reply Natalie March 19, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    You are the best Sarah. Thank you for posting here during this uncertain and distressing time! I feel the same way. Today is definitely better than yesterday for me.

    There is a part of me that wonders if the negative mental health and societal impacts resulting from all the shutdowns, school closures, and social distancing are worse than the disease. I’m an epidemiologist so from an academic standpoint I COMPLETELY understand the reasoning behind social distancing. And yet… there are so many important pieces of what constitutes a healthy life and a functioning society that are just falling apart. What about vulnerable children for whom school is a lifeline? There are children falling through the cracks in the social work system. What about lower income parents who cannot work from home and must continue to work, but there is no child care? What about the mental health impacts on us as a nation? I know I probably sound like a right-wing nut (I’m not! I would live in a progressive Scandinavian country if I could!) but I am struggling with what we are doing now.

    Because of the extremely limited testing going on in this country, we have no idea if the total case count is accurate. I think the morbidity and mortality rates are completely skewed because we don’t know how many people are actually positive: they are only testing the sickest of the sick. The media is taking this limited information and blowing it up. The MMR report published by the CDC yesterday noted that ICU admission rates were higher in those 80 died before they would have been admitted to the ICU. And the report did note that there was no analysis of underlying diseases, etc.

    Hopefully I’m not coming off as a nut job 🙂 I’m just an epidemiologist mom who is skeptical. For the record, we are strictly socially distancing.

    • Reply Natalie March 19, 2020 at 12:22 pm

      Sorry, meant to say that ICU admissions were higher in those 80 died before they would have been admitted to the ICU. Of course, the media is not taking this possibility into account.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 19, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      yes, totally get that. just adds to all of the uncertainty. i’m getting to the point where i can no longer look at arguments on either side b/c it’s not like i can control it anyway. just social distancing to the extent possible and waiting for it to hopefully all end.

  • Reply Alyce March 19, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Crying is legit stress relief. And when we’re done crying, we’ll get up and keep trucking because we can do hard things.

  • Reply Becca March 19, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing and for making me feel less alone (I’m a physician mom of 2 young kids, husband is also a physician)…not really sure what else to do either

  • Reply Danielle March 19, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    I appreciate that you’ve been honest about your emotions during this strange, difficult time. In so many places I’ve been running into the message that it’s selfish to complain because someone has it worse. But, in my opinion everyone’s feelings and struggles are valid. And everyone is having difficulty figuring out new ways to deal with their stress.

    My situation is the complete opposite of yours. I don’t have work for the next 4-6 weeks (but I’m getting paid) and I don’t have kids. I’m feeling lost and lonely. On Saturday and Monday I helped probably over 200 people prepare and then suddenly on Tuesday, bam nothing. To make matters more stressful I’m in the WA Puget Sound Area.

    This morning (west coast) I’m pulling out my planner and doing a better job of planning out what I’m going to do with myself and set some new goals to work on for the next month.

  • Reply Physician on FIRE March 19, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Stay strong, Sarah. It’s going to be a tough time, and there’s some chance I’ll be donning scrubs again if $h!t really hits the fan, but this will get better eventually.


  • Reply Marci Gilbert March 19, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    It’s just all too much!

  • Reply Ana March 19, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Sarah, I’m sorry, and I went through (and sure I will go through again) the same feelings. Today I’m feeling OK, but earlier this week I was on the verge of a breakdown. I hate not being able to plan and LOOK FORWARD TO things. So many little things I look forward to were canceled (mostly social outings, which really keep me going apparently, because not having them makes me really depressed!) Even work feels somewhat out of control—when will we be safely seeing patients in person again? Anyways, all this to say, solidarity friend.

  • Reply Kat March 19, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    I’ve been finding the Just Dance (on Switch or elsewhere) or similar dance work points songs really nice. It’s a quick distraction that’s not tempting to get sucked into (you can decide to do only one song), but it’s engrossing and doesn’t let me ruminate. I can fit it in between calls if they end just a few minutes early.

    It’s been a good distraction and mood booster!

    I don’t have kids, but they have a whole kids section with multiplayer options and simple moves, so maybe A and C can do that too!

  • Reply Lori C March 19, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    I had a really down day yesterday too. Learned a friend and partner both have pneumonia, one was admitted with dropping O2 levels and going to be intubated. Mid thirties (younger than me) and relatively healthy with 2 little ones my kids age. It seems large looming overwhelming and depressing. I think my mood started when I went to the grocery store and saw firsthand the empty shelves, distracted faces and palpable fear. To later have to explain to my kids why they couldn’t go out and play with the neighborhood kids that were outside playing together was frustrating. Everything is magnified by being inside with same faces. It’s hard. One day at a time. I spent some time reading my Bible and listening to worship music when I woke up today, which I know is my medicine. I feel better today. Hope you do too.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 19, 2020 at 8:28 pm

      today wasn’t great but i have higher hopes for tomorrow. i’m so glad you have something that helps you – that is wonderful <3

  • Reply Annie March 20, 2020 at 12:07 am

    I think one of the worst parts of today, for me (I am a high risk pregnancy doctor) is something happened that was a complete (unavoidable) tragedy that had nothing to
    do with the virus. On a ‘normal’ day I/we/the whole team would have spent as much time as it took to comfort this lady…instead we were all distracted by our own anxieties, ten thousand emails about constantly changing procedures, me texting my babysitter (who normally takes my kids to and from school but certainly does not watch them all day). I feel sad and a little ashamed I just kind of shut down, which I only ever did in the very depths of residency. Hang in there, all.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 20, 2020 at 7:12 am

      I’m so sorry Annie. I do get that! Don’t feel ashamed. We are all doing our best.

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