The Newly-Divorced Mom of 2 Balancing Social Distancing with Joint Custody Due to Coronavirus
PEOPLE's Voices from the Coronavirus Crisis will share firsthand accounts of the people facing unique challenges during a global pandemic
Emma Kealy is a New Jersey-based mother and yoga instructor who is practicing social distancing while trying to juggle parenting and schooling with mindfulness – and she’s doing it all on her own. In this new age of coronavirus pandemic isolation, staying balanced while staying at home isn’t easy. Kealy, a 46-year-old mom of two kids, ages 14 and 11 — who teaches daily yoga classes through streaming sessions in her makeshift bedroom studio — describes the challenges of trying to balance her strict teaching schedule with maintaining social distance protocols with her kids, ex-husband and students.
I teach almost every day — at different times, but I’m very scheduled and I know exactly when I’m going to teach: Every Monday is the same, every Tuesday is the same. But the way I run my life now is different. I’m teaching these streaming classes at a very different time.
It’s definitely a challenge. I can’t say it’s been bad because my kids are very good with their schoolwork and staying on top of it. If I’m teaching during the day, the kids will entertain themselves; if work has me down for a 7:00 a.m. class, then I don’t have to worry about the kids because they’re still in bed. They’re not getting up early like they would on a normal day, but they’re getting everything done when they have to get it done; they’re making that part easy.
The thing that is difficult? I am divorced. So, what we’ve been doing is, my ex-husband will come here on Saturday and stay for the weekend with the kids. I’ll leave and I stay with my boyfriend so they have their time with their dad here. This arrangement is not much different than usual. It’s called “nesting” when the children remain in their custodial home. They both were so busy with practice and games on weekdays and weekends, so it made more sense for him to come here and work around their schedule.
[Now that he’s coming to the house from another location], they’re practicing social distancing or staying in the house. He’ll take my son out to play outside — they’ve tried to play catch and baseball. My daughter plays lacrosse. Luckily, we have a big yard.
When I’m teaching and the kids are sleeping, it’s great. When they’re awake, I have to tell them to be quiet and not to use their devices because of the streaming bandwidth. Turning my bedroom into a makeshift yoga studio isn’t the easiest thing. It’s a little strange, but you just have to make do with the situation at hand at this point.
At least I know that I have some sort of income coming in, but it’s nowhere near what I was making before. Financially, it’s very, very stressful. Now, I’m set up for five classes per week. So, it’s pretty much one class per day whereas I used to teach 11 classes per week. It’s definitely a big difference – though it is still tiring to talk through the whole hour while trying to demonstrate, and to not be able to play music as normal.
After the class, we open up the mic and people say hi. I get a lot of text messages and people putting things on Facebook and just the overall feedback from the classes. I can tell that everybody’s just very grateful they have this one hour of their day where they can not think about what’s going on in the outside world. Though I’m hoping it’s weeks as opposed to months.
- As told to Morgan Evans