What we are living through right now is unprecedented. Nothing in any parenting book or blog could have prepared you for what’s going on in the world, and I commend you for keeping it together so well. Many of you have found yourselves suddenly responsible for homeschooling your children, in the midst of all of the other anxieties that come along with a global pandemic.
You’re exhausted. You’re worried. You’re afraid you’re still not doing enough. But you know what? Despite what some Super Moms on the Internet might lead you to believe…
You’re not supposed to feel like you have everything under control.
Yes, you read that right. None of us do—not even the Super Moms. Everyone is in uncharted territory right now, and that’s okay. We’re all in the same boat, even if the waters are churning, and we’ll come out stronger on the other side.
Though we all want to be the parent who can keep it all together, let’s be honest: the last thing you need right now is more pressure. Give yourself a break, and if you can, try to relax… even if that means allowing some small things to fall through the cracks. Right now, the top priority is keeping your family healthy. If you can accomplish anything beyond that, you are already incredible. Which reminds me:
This time does not need to be spent in hyper-productivity mode.
With everyone stuck at home, there seems to be an expectation that now is the time to get that project done, or learn that new skill, or clean out the garage, or….
No, Super Moms, I am putting my foot down. Now is the time to keep your family close, and to deal with the crisis at hand. Remodeling the kitchen can wait. This is a pandemic, after all, and every minute does not need to be spent working toward an output.
With that said, do dive into whatever tasks help your family feel more at ease; crafting, cooking, home improvement, etc. can all be very cathartic. This time can be an opportunity for your kids to get involved in your hobbies, and for you to get involved with theirs.
Don’t worry: no one expects you to magically transform into Homeschool Teacher of the Year.
No, not even your kid. Or their teacher. Or any of the other parents in their class. Or even the Super Moms.
All anyone expects you to do is the best with what you have, which may not be much; remember, teachers are feeling just as unprepared as you are. They’re missing their students dearly, and they know that your experience as a parent is very different from their training as an educator.
And your kids know that, too! If you are patient with them, they will be patient with you. It is enough that you are there for them, doing what you can.
Openness and honesty will get your family through this.
It’s okay to admit that you’re afraid, or that you’ve made a mistake, or that you don’t know what will happen next. Trust me, your children will love you more for it—and they’ll see your bravery and know it’s okay for them to be honest with you, too.
These are scary times, and there is nothing reassuring about an adult who dismisses valid fears. Of course, you don’t need to dwell on bad news—but allowing the space for open conversation can help everyone in the family work through their worries.
Your home is not a classroom, and it doesn’t need to be; different environments invite different modes of learning.
In general, it’s true that routines are helpful for kids —but if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it up. Textbooks and worksheets might work great for large groups of kids, but on an individual level learning can look different for everyone.
Scour for bugs in the backyard. Plant seeds in the garden. Make a physics ramp on the coffee table. Count the magnets on the refrigerator, research something new online, practice a new language, start a family book club… Just because an activity isn’t part of the curriculum, that doesn’t mean it isn’t education.
Don’t forget that much of what kids learn at school is informal, but extremely important—like social and emotional interaction.
This is especially true for younger kids, whose time spent at school includes invaluable social play. School is where kids learn to solve problems, work together, and deal with emotions. If you find yourself focusing on these skills at home more than academics, that’s perfectly fine; these are the skills that will get them through every other obstacle they encounter in their lives.
Socialization and play is extremely important for healthy child development, so get creative! Allow plenty of time for free play, and get some social skills brewing—whether that means setting up a play date online or tapping into your own inner kid during playtime for a while.
Community is everything—even during home isolation.
When you’re stuck at home, it’s easy to forget that everyone else is in the same situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to share your own wisdom! Right now, families everywhere could use all the support they can get.
Below are some of my personal favorite resources that are currently free or heavily discounted. Feel free to use and share them with your community:
- Studycat is offering its language learning apps free of charge to families affected by school closures.
- Audible has recently made its audiobooks for kids available for free.
- Good News Network shares uplifting current events, if you need a break from all the bad news.
- GoNoodle is a treasure trove of movement and mindfulness videos for kids.
- Many museums, zoos, and historical sites offer Virtual Field Trips, so your kids can explore the world from home.
And remember: Your kids are learning.
They are learning how to deal with sudden, unprecedented change. They are learning how to be brave. How to manage their emotions. How to face uncertainty and overcome frustration and adapt to a changing world.
And, at the end of it all, your kids may not remember the assignments you did at home together. Instead, they’ll remember how they felt; what it was like to have you around so much, to spend this time together. They’ll remember how you helped them through the change and uncertainty, helped them understand what it means to have the courage to try—even when you’re afraid.
So, parents (a.k.a. real life superheroes), I am giving you this permission slip: Whatever this crisis means for your family, you do what you need to keep them healthy, happy, and safe. You’ve got this.