We are finishing up week six of social distancing (Or is it five? Or seven? What day is it? What month is it?). That means that for six weeks, our kids have been out of school, removed from activities and home with us! And truth is, none of us wanted this.
I take that back. I don’t know all of you, so maybe some of you are thrilled that your kids are around all the time and you are soaking up endless hours of sweet snuggles and adorable family time. More power to you!!
But for the rest of us, this was not something we signed up for. This is not something that we prepared for. And this is not something that we know exactly how to handle. Parenting has become hard. It has become really hard!
And while I don’t have all the answers for how to handle it (something to work on for next week’s post maybe?!), I want you to know you are not alone in feeling this way. Through work with my clients, conversations with my friends, and countless social media posts, I have come to a number of realizations about parenting in the time of COVID-19 that I wanted to share with you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
We are not Homeschooling
According to familyeducation.com, “Homeschooling means learning outside of the public or private school environment.” They go on to say that “their ‘schooling’ involves being out and about each day, learning from the rich resources available in their community, environment, and through interactions with other families who homeschool.”
This is NOT what we are doing. With little to no time to prepare, we have been thrown into the depths of online schooling and trying to help our kids have some semblance of what their normal school day was like.
This is impossible for us to do. Our kids who were in a traditional school setting had time to socialize with their friends, interact with others, and have variety in the settings in which they were learning. It is not realistic that we as parents can even come close to mimicking what our kids were doing in school.
We are not Working from Home
To say we are “working from home” is a phrase that implies we are working as we were, just our environment has changed.
Instead of going into the office, we are staying home. While some of this is accurate, for many of us, in addition to our typical professional obligations, we also have to take responsibility for child care, “homeschooling,” housework and our own self-care. Under these circumstances, it is impractical to expect that we are going to be as productive during the 9-to-5 hours as we were if we were out of the home.
We are not being the Parents We Always Dreamed to be
I know that there is a lot that I am doing right now that is not in line with how I wanted to be as a parent.
I can’t speak for all of you but my patience has been short, my energy is dwindling and my kids are definitely spending more time in front of the TV than I would like. We are all navigating something very new right now. The situation that we are in is not one we thought we would have to deal with when we pictured our lives as parents.
While I do not end every day feeling as though I did everything I always dreamed for my kids, I do try to focus on doing the best I can for my kids on that given day (even if my best is tons of snacks and screen time). As long as our kids are loved, and their basic needs are met, we are doing all we need to be doing right now!
We are just Surviving
Some days are full of fun activities and joyous family time. But other days are just about getting by. And as hard as this is for us as parents, it is just as hard, if not more so, for our kids. Their lives have been uprooted as well, and depending on their age, they might not have the same understanding as to why.
We need to take it easy on ourselves. We need to realize that we will get back to the things that have been taken away.
So, as you finish reading this post and go on with the rest of your day, please remember to take it easy on yourself. What you are doing is really hard, and you are doing a great job!
Jmore parenting columnist Talya Knable is a psychotherapist who lives in Lutherville with her husband, Stephen, and their two children, Jack and Leigh. Her website is tkpsych.com/. She is also the assistant clinical director of Shalom Tikvah (shalomtikvah.org/), a local non-profit organization that supports Jewish families facing mental illness and other challenging life circumstances.
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