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'Do what you can': Doctors give advice to parents on managing work, remote learning for your child

We talk to moms who are doctors in the Tampa Bay area about how they manage the workload of a stressful job and the challenge of having kids complete.

TAMPA, Fla. — Working from home isn’t an option for people working essential jobs. For many parents, life is getting more complicated because they’re also forced to be teachers as students across the Tampa Bay area take on remote learning.

Doctors Janeen Alidina, Carolina Hernandez, Judith Barreiro and Evelyn Serrano serve patients through The Woman’s Group in Tampa. Each work more than 40 hours a week while also trying to manage school-aged kids doing classwork from home.

“My daughter’s schedule is 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It involves web-based learning with her kindergarten teacher,” Alidinia said.

She relies on her husband and family for help. After the schoolwork is done, Alidina says getting out of the house helps, too. 

“It really helps to get outside. Being inside all the time is tough for us, especially with young children. We try to take at least three or four walks around the block. Sometimes we’re just sitting on the porch and relaxing. That’s the best thing I’ve found that helps us all manage stress,” Alidina said.

Hernandez gets her daughter’s work through email. She also relies on her family for help but says she checks in as often as possible while at work.

“It’s tough because now you have to be the teacher, the doctor, the mom, the housekeeper, everything,” she said.

Hernandez’s biggest piece of advice for other moms struggling with managing everything is to do what you can and be OK with the work you’re doing.

“Try not to stress, stay calm. Don’t feel guilty, because I think that’s how a lot of us feel. I feel it too when I’m not able to be there all the time, but we only can do what we can do,” Hernandez said.

Barreiro has children working in home who are in elementary school, middle school and high school.

“The biggest thing for our family is to maintain similar routines,” Barreiro said. “That includes eating breakfast, brushing teeth and sitting down at their workstation ready to go.”

Barreiro tries to find different places in her home where her children can work independently to simulate more of a classroom setting. She says this allows her children to focus on their work. Her advice to other moms is to do what works for you.

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“Through all this uncertainty, everything around us may be changing, but our love for our children is a constant. So, it doesn’t matter how crazy it gets out there, doing what we can to get the work done, while maintaining our family’s emotional wellbeing and trust in us as parents through the whole thing is what matters most,” Barreiro said.

Serrano says doing schoolwork from home was initially challenged for her elementary school-aged son.

“It’s challenging because he’s six,” Serrano said. “His class worked so well because they had them move around and all of the students stayed engaged experience different things. 

"Now we’re very limited when you have a small child completely learning on the internet."

Serrano says she’s thankful for the help she gets from her family. She checks in while she’s at work and handles what she can when she’s there. While maintaining a stressful job and order at home can be tough, Serrano says it's important for moms to find some sort of support, be it through family or friends, and try to make time for themselves.

“It is normal to feel very overwhelmed and to even panic, and we don’t have the resources that we normally might have. It is a stressful time for everyone. At this point, I take it one day at a time.” Serrano said. “Realize that you’re not alone. Even though you are isolated at home. You can be socially connected if not physically.”

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