As the U.S. ramps up social distancing in the fight against coronavirus, the concept of work-life balance has gone from challenging to seemingly impossible for many working moms.
Kasie Hunt, NBC News’ Capitol Hill correspondent and host of MSNBC’s “KasieDC,” is the first to admit the juggle is a lot to handle. Kasie and her husband, Matt Rivera, a “Meet the Press” senior producer, are both working full-time from home while parenting 7-month old Mars.
Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski recently chatted with Kasie about the challenges of doing her job from home while raising Mars, how her outlook on life has changed and the mental and physical hurdles she has overcome since giving birth.
Take a look:
Mika: How are you doing with Mars in this pandemic? How are you balancing being on the air, having the baby home with you and your husband doing his job from home as well? This is like going from zero to 100 miles an hour as a compact family.
Kasie: With a little baby at home, there’s never time to just stop and do nothing. The baby always needs something. In some ways, that’s a blessing because you actually have something to do with your day on a timeline, with a structure that can’t be ignored.
On the other hand, if you actually need a real break it’s hard to take one. Luckily, we are both at home and we only have one baby! I don’t know how moms with toddlers are doing it. I really don’t. If my husband and I couldn’t trade the baby back and forth, I think we would both be completely losing our minds. I did put up a new play area with a gate because he’s about to start crawling at any moment and THAT is going to be a new thing.
Mika: What did you take for granted before this pandemic?
Kasie: My conversations every day with my coworkers, acquaintances, party guests, all the people who make life richer who I don’t get the chance to connect with now because those encounters just don’t happen. I miss my producer at the Capitol, Alex Moe, and seeing all the crew guys who I work with ... I miss the studio team! Also, I totally took for granted easy, take out lunches and meals on the go. Now there is so much cooking.
Mika: How has your respect for mothers, especially working moms, changed since you had your baby? And has this pandemic taken that respect to a whole new level?
Kasie: I’ve been in awe of working moms since forever, and I was totally terrified even before I got pregnant of how the hell I would manage it all. Now I am just in awe of those moms who are balancing multiple kids, trying to work while also suddenly trying to also be their kids’ teacher, while also getting food on the table and trying to keep sane at the same time. I am especially in awe of all the working moms on the front lines, particularly our nurses — these women are the backbone and they’re worried about bringing the disease home to their families. I try to think about them whenever I’m having a rough moment.
Mika: Do you like doing your show from home? What are the positives and what are the negatives?
Kasie: Positives: No commute! This is particularly helpful for “Morning Joe” at 6 a.m. The team that set up my studio did an amazing job, and I’m so impressed with how it looks.
Negatives: I really miss the studio crews I work with on the show. It’s just not the same without them. Not to mention, their work is so important for clearing the decks to be able to focus on editorial instead of any technical issue. With the producers scattered at home and no one to fix problems as they arise, it’s a much bigger challenge to stay focused on the next script or question.
Mika: How is your sleep schedule?
Kasie: Is anyone sleeping well these days? I’m up way later than normal worrying. My husband, the saint, knows this and usually gets up with the baby in the mornings if I don’t have “Morning Joe” so I can try and catch up on sleep. But it’s a battle. At least the commute before morning TV is better.
Mika: Do you have any physical or mental challenges since giving birth? Did you come back too soon, would you have needed more time if you could do it again? Are you being kind to yourself through all of this?
Kasie: I had a difficult recovery after giving birth. Seven months later, I’m still struggling with it, doing physical therapy and other things to try and get better. Mentally, I was absolutely ready to start going back to work and figuring out the working mom life, but physically I definitely needed more time. That is the one silver lining in this for me; being able to be off my feet instead of in the marble halls of the Capitol.
It’s giving me a chance to recover more fully. As for being kind. I’m trying to—mostly by focusing on all the extra time I’m getting with my baby. I always feel guilty being at home if I’m not trying to work and report every single second, so I’m trying to give myself permission to just hang out with Mars … I’m actually getting to be here as he tries to figure out crawling. This morning, he spontaneously learned to clap and it was really fun to be able to be there and see it.