Parenting In The Modern Age of COVID-19
As a mom of four, as well as an educator, I can honestly say that in the last eight weeks I’ve been challenged in so many new ways. I am so thankful for the extra time with my family, yet the disruption of our “normal” life has also been challenging for us to navigate. So quickly our homes, the place where we typically find refuge, have turned into the Wild Wild West. Many of us were already struggling with finding the work-life balance but this has taken it to an entirely new level.
So what can we do to help our families and our children through this tough time? One of the most effective strategies I have learned through this time is to make sure that we give ourselves grace. We cannot pour from empty cups, and I would guess that most of us know from past experience that strategy does not work well in the long term.
Parenting in the modern age is stressful enough with trying to juggle all of the exhausting things we are constantly being bombarded with: did my kids finish their online learning assignments, did they get too much screen time today, did I give each person in my family individual time today, how will all of this impact their educational progress, did they brush their teeth….DID I BRUSH MY TEETH? It goes on and on, and frankly it’s exhausting.
All of those little things that keep us up at night can be overwhelming and consuming, but we have to push back and remind ourselves of the things we are grateful for and shift our focus to the positive. So many tools are out there- gratitude journals, exercise, eating healthy and other important forms of support like teletherapy. One on one time with a friend, even via Zoom, is very beneficial.
As parents, we are able to access the educators that support our students: teachers, school counselors and principals. We should strive to decrease our stress about academic regression- it is highly likely that most kids' skills will decline in the same way they do during summer. School is a social learning environment, and as such, children learn so much from sharing engagement and perspectives with others. Keeping up with the online instruction is important, but so is playing in the sunshine, reading, doing art projects, cooking and helping with household chores.
We have a special time right now where we can release some of the pressures of that “normal” life we miss so much and replace it with days that are a bit more leisurely. We have new opportunities to help our kids learn through experiencing things such as making an old family recipe, doing a project that you’ve been putting off or finding a new project to do together as a family. If you find these things to be consuming you, seek the type of refuge that you need- taking a walk or drive alone, a phone call with a friend & making sure that you & your partner share in the chaos that is parenting/homeschooling without a break.
Remember that these are hard times for kids too, and it is typical to see reactions like worry, sadness and irritability. Hang in there, you are doing your best & tomorrow is a fresh start. Remember to rely on your village of friends and family.
Some additional resources for parents can be found here:
Erin Hoganson, MA, LEP, is a Licensed Educational Psychologist. For more information, Erin can be reached at (805)651-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.