“It’s as if the rainiest week of summer break & the polar vortex had a baby.”
I should start by saying–I have a teaching degree. Two, in fact. Plus, a Master’s degree. I spent 13 years teaching elementary and special education classes. The bulk of my time was in first grade. And, I loved it. I’ve also been a stay-at-home for almost eight years and a work-from-home mom for almost seven years. Plus, I pride myself on being socially awkward and a definitive introvert. I feel like I’ve training for social distancing my whole life.
Welcome to Quarantine.
But, oh my. This quarantine. It’s as if the rainiest week of summer break & the polar vortex had a baby. Why? When you combine no school, but with school work, social distancing and working from home, the last shred of sanity flies out the window. But…not the window because #springallergies.
How on earth can we get through this?
Realize You’re Not Alone.
Due to COVID-19, we’ve all been thrown into this chaos. Everyone. We are all facing the reality that people we love could end up in the ICU with very little warning. Children, no children–you’ve spent over a week by now, adjusting to this new, temporary normal. And, at least in a few of the states, Illinois included, we now have “Shelter In Place” orders. But, as alone as you may feel, you’re not alone. Lots of people are struggling right now.
Know That It’s Messy.
Let me just say it: This new normal can be a $#!% show. Not being able to follow your regular routine can feel frustrating and uncomfortable. Human beings are creatures of habit, so it’s going to be tough. Throw in the fact that you are in quarantine, you may be working from home, your children are not leaving the house–it’s going to be messy.
Understand: Not Having a Schedule is Hard.
In this country, we are BUSY. We are used to schedules, day-in and day-out. Now, everything has *kind of* come to a screeching halt. In other ways, we are scrambling, right?
And then, there are the parents of school-aged children. Not only are you working from home, but you’re also expected to be homeschooling your children. Lessons and emails are pouring in. Your social feed is filling up with colorful schedules and links to educational websites. You scroll through endless pictures of other people’s children diligently working away at the kitchen table.
Please don’t misunderstand me. There’s nothing wrong with those posts. I love seeing the inspiration, the website links, the pictures. But, don’t think for one second that this is coming easy to everyone else, except you. You’re allowed to admit that this week was messy. This is uncharted territory.
Don’t Try to Be Superhuman.
You’re not capable of doing everything, so don’t try. Give yourself grace. This too, shall pass. We’re going to get through it together, and there’s no amount of stress and struggle that will make it much better. Do what you can do, and forget about the rest.
This is not the time to print off charts from Pinterest, hoping to become a well-oiled machine. Write down some priorities for each day, including fresh air and family time. Break up the day with some non-screen time and some screen time.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up About Homeschooling.
Buckle up…we’re going for a ride, so grab a glass of wine and listen.
You should know that homeschooling is hard–even for people with teaching experience.
From day one as a parent–even with teaching degrees and 13 years of classroom time under my belt–I never planned on homeschooling my kids. To begin with, when you teach in a classroom, most of the time, your day is structured. Times are allotted. Children are delivered into your care–most of the time all the same age–and they have a certain dynamic with you. And, at the end of the day…They LEAVE. Teaching is hard work. But, you get a break from your students for about 12-15 hours.
Parenting is not the same thing. My 8-year-old comes home often to tell me things his teacher has taught him–he thinks the world of her, and he thinks she knows everything. I love it. You know why? Because that’s the dynamic. His teacher is wonderful, and she deserves to be graced with his adornment. I remember being THAT PERSON for my students. I heard the stories. I listened to the parents’ experiences. I sat across the table at parent teacher conferences, staring at shocked expressions when they heard me say that their child was well-behaved, thoughtful and a huge help. “Our son?” They would ask, bewildered. It’s a totally different relationship.
Fast forward to the current reality of quarantine. I’m not homeschooling my kids because the struggle to do so is detrimental to my sanity. My eight year old is stubborn. My three year old is more than a handful. And, my five year old just wants attention. It’s fine. It’s our reality. I’m just doing what I can. This is not homeschooling; this is just getting by. So, don’t beat yourself up, feeling like you’ve failed at being the “June Cleaver” of the Coronavirus Quarantine.
I realize how lucky we are. Taking time to acknowledge what you have can be a powerful exercise. Many adults are still going to work–working tirelessly to to tend to the sick, to save lives, to keep everyone safe. and supplied with essentials. Medical professionals are coming up against this virus daily, hoping they don’t get infected themselves. They are separating themselves from their families.
There are kids who don’t have the privilege we have. There are parents struggling with feeding their children, loss of jobs, finding ways to pay bills. Sometimes, it helps to look at your situation and understand how lucky you are. We are very lucky. Change your perspective, and you can change your world.
The Silver Lining
Since we can’t really leave the house, we’re in this unique situation, right? We’ll never have this opportunity with our kids again. I’m not saying you have to attempt to make every moment beautiful and memorable. Because that’s not how life works. But, what you can do is to take time each day to do something you’ll look back on–and be glad you did.
On Thursday, after Dexter did his lessons on the computer, the three kids cuddled up on the couch with me, and we watched a movie. We don’t normally have time to do that…but, it was worth every minute.
Give Yourself Grace.
Don’t waste time comparing your life to someone else’s. Focus on giving yourself, your children–and anyone else you cross virtual paths with–some much-needed grace. You’re doing what you can. Is it your best? Probably not. You know why? Because in the midst of a pandemic, most people are not at their best in a lot of ways. So please. Don’t give yourself a hard time. Eat cookies in the closet. Let yourself drink coffee all day until wine-o-clock. Take a breath and trust that we can all get through this. And, if you need to vent, reach out. Send me a message. I get it. Sometimes, once you get all of your feelings out, you can start getting better. Sometimes, it just takes knowing that you’re not alone. And, trust me. You’re not.