Has COVID Got You Down? It's Time to reConnect!

It was shortly after 2 p.m., and I kept checking the time, concerned about losing track of the day. My job that afternoon was to host my department’s first ever virtual seminar in less than an hour, and I was nervous about how things were going to proceed. Would the Internet connection from my guest’s home be strong enough? Would the technology perform flawlessly? And what exactly was the best way to moderate questions from an unseen audience? At this early stage of the pandemic, the virtual seminar series that would soon flourish had yet to be conceived, and rules governing virtual etiquette were still being established. I kept feeling an urge to log online and make sure everything was in order. And yet, instead I was reading Peppa Pig to my 2-year-old, snuggling with her in my bed as she was settling down for a nap.

Al​lyson MacLean enjoying some family time with her daughters

I will always remember 2020 as the year in which my roles as a mother to two young children and an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa abruptly merged into one chaotic mess. To reconcile the needs of caring for a 2- and a 4-year-old suddenly at home, with the demands of a full-time teaching and research position, meant very early mornings, careful coordination with my husband’s work schedule, and incredibly long days. A colleague of mine, Marina Cvetkovska, expressed it best, “My days feel like an endless boring Saturday with a hint of panic.”

My story was far from unique: most parents were facing these same struggles. With a new era of Zoom meetings featuring young children climbing onto the laps of colleagues a