Family gives tips on coping with having frontline health care worker parents during COVID-19

Frontline health care workers in Saskatchewan leave their families behind each day to be on the forefront of the battle against COVID-19. 

That's Mikki Ulmer's reality. She wakes up and heads to work in an ICU in Regina. Her husband Peni Lutudromu is also a frontline worker, meaning they often leave their nine, 12 and 13-year-old children home alone to do their homework and relax. 

Ulmer said her children are learning to adapt to their new reality being isolated at home. She said she's trying to help by separating her work and personal life, and makes sure to debrief with coworkers each day.  

"We're able to connect and we're able to talk through some of our worries and fears that we have as frontline workers," she said. 

"It's important that we talk about that because at the same time our family and friends who aren't medical workers probably don't understand the severity of the possibility of the situation that's coming."

Peni Lutudromu

Through it all, Ulmer is trying to prepare the kids for anything. She said she doesn't want to scare her family with the unknown, but that it's important to prepare her children for the worst. 

"Just letting them know that it could be a possibility that mom might be quite busy at work and that it might be safer for her to stay away for a while."

She's like a good role model to the community, like showing people how to stay safe. - Jonah Lutudromu, about his mom

Ulmer said they have a plan to Facetime each other and keep in touch through other ways if she needs to be away. 

"It's probably hard for them to hear," she said. "They can be prepared for if it actually happened."

Ulmer's three children are Jonah, Kaileah and MaKayla Lutudromu, aged nine, 12 and 13. 

"She's like a good role model to the community, like showing people how to stay safe," Jonah said. "It's kind of scary because she could get sick."

Submitted by Mikki Ulmer

MaKayla said many people don't have the same tough spots that they do because their parents are home. She said they have learned how to cope by planning their schedule and having a normal day.

Makayla said most parents should help their kids cope. 

"Giving them a few things to do during the day and checking up on them throughout the day," MaKayla suggested. 

"Find like activities from stores to do or from their basement to play or something to distract themselves by maybe drawing or cleaning or whatever they like," Kaileah said.

Jonah said kids in their situation should plan out their day to keep their mind off their parents' work. 

"Try to think of fun stuff that you can do," Jonah said. "It's OK just try to stay positive about stuff like don't think about the downside of it."