An email from my editor popped into my inbox: “Can you edit this story? We would like to use it for tomorrow’s paper.” Just then I was setting up the Black & Decker toy tool kit that I had promised my son, then 2, weeks earlier as a reward for doing such a great job with potty training. The timing was tough—toddlers and newspaper editors both have immediate deadlines, and both can be impatient to get what they want.
But I prevailed. As time was ticking, I managed to build the set while editing the story and avoiding a meltdown. Working from home while taking care of a toddler isn’t easy. I have had to learn how to maximize time with my son and get my writing done. Stay-at-home moms know that every second counts.
Two weeks ago my friend from Rome, Elena, spoke to me the ominous words: “Prepare yourself. Coronavirus is in the north of Italy, it will soon be here in Rome, and in a few weeks it’ll be in the U.S.A.”
Elena works in the film industry and tends to be dramatic. But she was spot on about the spread of Covid-19 in Italy. The whole country is now shut down, and the medical system is overwhelmed. It made me think that, just as it would play out in a bad film, the U.S. will follow suit. And there is a good chance day-care centers and primary schools will shut down here, too.
If my 4-year-old’s preschool closes down for the year, I know that readiness will mean more than having the household necessities. It means thinking out of the box for creative activities to keep my little one busy. No matter what happens, I’ll need to keep sane and get work done. If we’re going to be all hunkered down for a few weeks, it never hurts to be prepared.
Ms. Siegel is a freelance journalist who covers international affairs, business, parenting and travel.
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