By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a balancing act so many Minnesota families are in the middle of — trying to work and parent in the COVID-19 pandemic.

After months of frustration, a local mom says she had no choice but to make a difficult decision.

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Like any working parent, Molly McGovern tried to adjust to the rapid-fire changes that came her way last spring.

“We were kind of blindsided by everything,” McGovern said.

“Schools shut down. Kids were home. We were at home full time,” she added.

That meant her often 60-hour weeks, in charge of a team of more than 20 people as a manager at a mortgage company, played out in front of her family.

“But we found after a couple of weeks is you can’t keep two 4-year-olds and an 8-year-old on a schedule when you’re also working full-time. It’s just not feasible,” McGovern said.

For months, that struggle went on. Trying to keep the kids busy while watching the clock.

“You constantly feel like you’re failing at everything. You feel like your failing your children, your job, your manager, your team,” McGovern said.

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Until last week, when she made the mental health of herself and her kids the priority.

“With all the uncertainty out there I made a decision that our family’s health and happiness is way more important than my job, unfortunately. It was a really hard decision and it still is,” she said.

For the first time since she can remember, this 36-year-old mom no longer has a job.  The McGovern’s know it’s not a decision all families can make.  It’s why they believe support for parents in the workplace is crucial.

“There’s such a black and white differential right now between essential and non-essential workers. But if you have to work how is that not essential for your family,” McGovern asked.

Until a clear path forward, Molly will stay home. She’s focused on the moments, while still here, she missed.

“I’m present. I’m finally a present parent and I haven’t been present for a very long time,” she said.

McGovern has some tips she’s learned to help parents cope that aligns with the very advice mental health professionals also pass on: find your village and utilize it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t internalize how you’re feeling, talk to others about it.

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Also, McGovern believes it’s important to forgive yourself. Many people are struggling right now and not able to do things 100% so there’s no reason to be so hard on yourself she says.

Liz Collin