FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. — The last 12 months were full of twists and turns for working parents like Linh Nguyen.

"There was so much happening all at the same time during the pandemic with both my work and the kids," Nguyen said.  

What You Need To Know

  • Linh Nguyen and her older brother, Tam Nguyen, run Advance Beauty College

  • Nguyen juggles motherhood and her career, a situation complicated by the coronavirus pandemic

  • Nguyen and her husband, a physician, had to figure out how to balance raising their children and continuing their careers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Today, Nguyen is the vice president of Advance Beauty College with her older brother, Tam Nguyen. Their family has trained thousands of hairstylists, barbers, and other beauty professionals in the last 30-plus years.

Last year when the state ordered a lockdown in March, Nguyen and her brother had to close their two campuses, located in Garden Grove and Laguna Hills.

"I was busy all day trying to figure out how do we take our hundreds of students at both of my campuses and bring them online, create [a] platform, and make sure all of my teachers who I could hire be able to teach online," she said.

Despite the challenges Linh Nguyen's family has faced, she is one of the fortunate ones. After months of closures and uncertainty, Nguyen's business is still standing, and her family is healthy.

Many women either lost their jobs, cut their hours, or quit completely to tend to their children and households. According to the Department of Labor, roughly 275,000 women left the workforce in January, compared to the 71,000 men who left. Most of the women affected are minority women.

After months of closures, Nguyen said her beauty college saw a gradual uptick in enrollment. People who have always wanted to join the beauty profession found an opportunity to enroll in a hybrid program to build a strong educational foundation through online and in-person courses.

While Nguyen and her brother were finding ways to keep their college campuses running, she said her children, two daughters and a son, were always on the back of her mind.

"There [was] a sense of guilt in that if I leave them at home, or if I'm working from home, even when I'm at home, I'm closed up in my room all day because I'm trying to work on all these things that I have to do for my work. So it's a struggle during that time," she said.

She admits having a nanny before the pandemic. Nguyen said she'd drop off her children at three different schools in the morning, and their nanny would pick them up from school and drop them off at various after-school activities. However, the family had to let the nanny go once the coronavirus health crisis was declared a pandemic and once her kids' school districts halted in-person instruction.

Her husband's profession — he's a physician — was also a factor because the family had to keep their social distancing bubble small.

"He was constantly advising them. We practice what he preaches as well," Nguyen said.

With their once-structured lifestyle changing, Nguyen said she and her husband figured out a way to work and take care of their kids. Her husband helped prepare meals while he worked from home, and she kept track of their homework and learned how to cook. 

In recent weeks, their children have begun returning to their schools in a hybrid model, giving the family a more structured routine. Nguyen said she often thinks about a woman's roles in their families. 

"I feel like we help bring the family together, and this is the time where we're always thinking about the kids' feelings, our husbands, our spouses, and how do we come together and make sure we get through this," Nguyen said.

Someday the pandemic will end, and it'll be part of the past. In the meantime, Nguyen said she admires all parents who have found ways to make it work for their families despite the twists and turns.