Alessandra Hagerty — mom working from home

Alessandra Hagerty helps her children, William and Julianna, with their virtual schooling. — Courtesy Alessandra Hagerty

When COVID first happened, everybody was immediately told, “Hey, you have to go home, and your kids are going to be home.” My son, William, was 3 at the time. My daughter, Julianna, was 6, and in kindergarten for her first year of school. My son wasn’t in preschool, but he was home, and our nanny that would usually watch him didn’t come anymore.

That was kind of crazy, because I was already working from home. Before [joining the advertising department of] The MV Times, I worked at the Knot and Weddingwire, so I did ad sales from home. Working from home wasn’t the biggest adjustment for me — that was something I was totally used to. But the flip of having your kids gone every day so you can work, and now you actually have to work with your kids at home — that was definitely a huge challenge, for all parents. You are used to your normal schedule, your normal day, and now both your children are at home, and you basically have to do two jobs. You do your work and also facilitate their school schedules, their activities, whether it be Zoom or whatever the schools had implemented at that point.

My husband is the town administrator, so he was going to work every day, he was working so much. He was dealing with the town and the craziness of COVID, I was home with the kids trying to work my job and facilitate the kids. But it’s just like anything, you have to pivot and figure out a new structure, a new strategy, a new way to make it work. Lots of scheduling with blocks of time for the kids to do certain activities, and then blocks of time for me to get my work done. We are fortunate enough to live on the Vineyard, so as soon as it was warm enough, we went on so many walks, every day walking in the woods, going to the beach, getting outside.

Zoom, to me, was completely comfortable, so I didn’t have that challenge. But my daughter was in kindergarten. Getting her used to being on the screen, seeing other kids on the screen, and being able to get comfortable with the little routine that they had, it all took time. The teachers are so amazing, they keep them engaged, and do fun activities. Now, for my daughter, it is so normal. She Zooms on Fridays each week, and the other days she’s in school. The kids are doing a really good job at adapting to this kind of new normal. Even wearing the mask, she is totally comfortable with it now.

Kids were obviously always told to wash their hands, and taught about germs, before COVID, but this was on a totally other level. So it was definitely important to make them understand that it’s not just, “Hey, wash your hands because you’ll get sick” — it’s “We want to keep our friends and our family safe; these germs will get you really sick.” You don’t want to scare them, but at the same time, they have to understand there is some sort of magnitude to this, it’s not just you are going to get a cough or stuffy nose.

Kids pick up and hear everything, and of course every phone call, every conversation that we are having in the house, the news, it’s all COVID. There was no fear or anything like that, it was just making sure they were being careful. My son is only 3. He will frequently be, like, “When is coronavirus going to be over, I can’t wait for it to be over,” and I just have to say, “That’s a very good question.”

I am lucky they are so young. With a teenager or a middle schooler, I think that is a totally different relationship with their friends and their social circle. It was nice during the summer, being able to get together with some other families outside, in open spaces. Kids are comfortable wearing masks, but I think it’s a comfort level that kind of varies from parent to parent. Some people are very comfortable with doing a playdate at the park, or doing something at the beach, but others aren’t. We have a couple friends that are very close, and they are sort of in our COVID pod. And I’m lucky that I have two kids, because they play with each other a lot, and are always outside on the swings and taking walks with each other.

When everything happened, I was at a different company, working a lot of hours in the wedding industry. That was very challenging, and a lot of pressure. Coming out of that, my kids were home, and I was able to spend so much time with them. I do like to see the positive side of things, and smell the roses. Obviously nobody enjoys the coronavirus and everything that has happened, but during that initial lockdown time, we spent so much time all together as a family — took tons of walks, did a lot of baking, a lot of pizza nights. If you look back at it, it was challenging, but we got to spend lots of quality family time together. If things had never happened, I would maybe still be at my corporate jobs, working crazy hours, and I never would have been able to spend all that time with my kids. It’s not rushing, and having to keep up with all these engagements like in-person school, social activities, sports, birthday parties.

I think it’s really important to take care of yourself, too. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you aren’t going to be doing the job you could be or should be doing with your family. I love running; I got a Peloton the Christmas before COVID. Literally, that was my lifesaver. I would go down to the basement, do my workout, and feel so great after. Sometimes, running outside, you almost felt normal for a little. Like it’s a normal day and I’m on a run. Being outside in the sunshine is very important for your mental health, and for staying positive. I also built my own chicken coop, and we got 10 chickens this summer, so you could say that was my COVID pet purchase.