Parenting (and Teaching and Coaching) in a Pandemic
This era has heaped extra responsibilities on all parents of young kids in a new way
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. The hard thing about this virus and the required social distancing is that it feels like we no longer have our village.
I am a parent myself, with two kids in elementary school, and even though I chose teaching as a career, it is very difficult to try to be everything that we are being asked to be during this time.
We are asked to be everything we were before, as well as now take on a lot of the role of teacher, because even though the teachers are working hard behind the scenes, there still is a lot of learning that can only happen with an adult at your side, especially when you are young.
We are also asked to take on the role of coach, and find a way to get young active kids exercise on these days that so many of their normal activities are shut down. Personally, my kids typically have one or more sports every day, and to suddenly have all those gone is a shock to their system. Their activity needs haven’t changed, but suddenly all of their activity needs fall on us.
In addition, we are supposed to be their social outlet, making sure that we find enough ways to play and entertain them to make up for the time that they would typically be playing with friends at school.
Many of us are having to suddenly be parent, teacher, coach and playmate while still fulfilling the tasks asked of us by our work so that we can get a paycheck. I can vouch for how difficult it is to try to balance work for the school and all of those other tasks at the same time.
None of this is made easier by the fact that we are stressed to the hilt, all of us, as a world. Fear of the unknown is a very real anxiety, and every day our news is filled with stories that make it all too clear that this virus is a risk that we might have to face. So we have to process that fear while also pretending that we aren’t afraid. Process our fear while helping our kids process theirs. Process our fear while doing all of the things we were before and then piling more responsibilities on top.
This is hard.
There is no denying it, no sugar coating it, and no way around that fact.
Your friends and family without kids aren’t likely to understand, because to them, while they are stressed, they really just have to take care of themselves.
But many of us at the school understand, because we are just like you. We are trying to find the balance as well. Trying to make sure our kids learn while also staying sane.
Here’s what I have found:
- My goal every day is to ensure that some learning takes place. I don’t stress having every box checked off. I know that some things can be pushed, and some things might not happen every day. But if my kids did some math, some reading, some writing, or something off the teacher’s list, it has been a good day.
- I let the schedule be flexible. There are times that my kids are into learning, and we can do it for long chunks of time. But there are other times that they are happily playing together, off screens, and that play is important too, so I let it go. They can learn later, or the next day, because their happiness is important too.
- It’s important to find space for me, as a parent, to relax as well. If we are so mentally burnt from being parent, teacher, coach, friend and worker all day that we never get a chance to recuperate and refresh, we won’t make it out of quarantine time with our sanity in place.
The teachers aren’t trying to make your job harder, but we are trying to come alongside you, and give your kids assignments so you don’t have to think of them, and try to ensure that we can come back from this and still be able to finish the year strong.
It is likely that everyone living through this time will remember it as the hardest time of our lives. This is our World War 2, this is our polio epidemic, this is our major world event to live through.
It’s hard not knowing what tomorrow will bring, or how long it will take before life is back to something like it was before. But that time will come.
I love to plan and know exactly what is coming up, and be ready for everything that life brings, but this virus has its own agenda.
So I, just like all of you, am taking this one day at a time.
One day at a time we are getting closer to the end, whenever that is. One day at time towards the date that history will record this pandemic as officially ended.
Until then, we are all doing our best with the circumstances that we have to live through.
We can do it, one day at a time.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”