Parenting and Schools During COVID19: It is Normal to Feel Like You’re Drowning
Remember when we were just entering quarantine in March? All those feelings, how we were going to manage? But, we had hope… we thought, we can do this. It won’t last long, right? We thought, sure it’s scary, and unknown, but we can handle parenting and schools during covid-19 and get to the other side…
So, on we went… we bought all the yeast and baking soda and rage baked… I was also rage eating, drinking wine and hoping that, if we just buckled down for the rest of the school year, if we stayed home as much as possible, if we wore masks, if we did what we needed to do to flatten the curve, we could open schools up in September and things would go back to “normal” or whatever that would look like? (Please tell me, I wasn’t the only one rage eating?)
So, here we are over 100 days later, with the summer close to an end, and things are barely any better than they were in May. Things in some places in the United States are actually WORSE: the virus is ravaging and New York, once the epicenter, has now been dethroned by California and Florida who have more coronavirus cases than New York.
This post isn’t about the virus itself. This post is about the parents. The parents who are suffering. Parents who can’t figure out how to continue doing this parenting thing during a global pandemic.
I don’t know about you, but there are many days when I wake up and think, “I just need to get through this DAY.”
If you feel that you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, you’re not alone. It feels like that often.
Image created by Dzana Serdarevic. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives – help stop the spread of COVID-19.
PARENTING DURING COVID19: REOPENING SCHOOLS DURING COVID19: Is there a good answer?
Parents are suffering everywhere, we are exhausted. Many of us feel broken. We are mentally drained. It feels like no relief is in sight, and being forced to make decisions about sending our children to school at a time when we don’t have all the answers on what is safe and what is not, when we aren’t contact tracing the way we are supposed to be, and when some states aren’t even mandating MASKS… it is all just too overwhelming.
We don’t have ALL THE answers about school reopening…
will it be safe for our kids?
Will it be safe for educators?
Will the cleaning materials used be safe?
Will kids become asymptomatic carriers of the disease?
There are only questions, and there are MANY questions. There are questions and no answers.
I’m a parent who, all things considered, is doing pretty OK during this pandemic: I didn’t lose my job, nor did my husband. We were already working remotely before the pandemic hit, and we have been able to continue. We are able to pay for our home, we are able to put food on the table. We have health insurance. So many families are suffering: many have lost their homes, their livelihoods, many are food insecure. Many have lost loved ones to covid-19.
So, yes I am one of the lucky ones. And yet, I can tell you that today I was so overwhelmed that I cried. Because, there is no good answer. There is no magical scenario where parents’ mental and physical health won’t be tried, tested, and where we won’t feel like we are losing it.
There is no good choice for our kids or our educators… and in NYC parents are expected and required to make a choice by August 7th (the end of this week!!!)
When I think about my choices: remote or A-B-C schedule…(and, I can’t help but think about the reports that opening in a hybrid model would not be safe) I can’t help but think about the families that need to go to school every day to get food, or the children who need services in school and would benefit from going to school every day.
I think about the kids who are immuno-compromised and who can’t go to school.
I wonder how our schools will handle cleaning at the end of the day…
I wonder how kids will feel about going to school in masks.
I wonder about the single moms. (Seriously, how are THEY doing it?) I have extra adults around and I still feel like I am floundering sometimes. (Like right now, i can’t remember if I put on deodorant, if my child brushed her teeth and I am sure I am forgetting something).
For months now, articles have been highlighting the difficulties of working at home FT while trying to take care of our kids. (This one by Deb Perelman is one of my favorites).
One of the hardest things about working from home with small children are the interruptions, amirite? I have a toddler, and a nine year old, it is virtually impossible to have any stretch of time where you are uninterrupted. It turns out, there’s a reason for that. Jennifer Senior, in this NYTimes article wrote about the problem parents are facing on the FLOW of our days being interrupted. She writes “Quarantine parenting is marked by a dire absence of flow, which is more essential to our well-being at this moment than we ever knew.” She says we aren’t only looking after our kids, which doesn’t have any “flow” to it, but we also have to supervise all their activities, all while WORKING. (Are you exhausted yet?) Jennifer says:
You need a stretch of continuous, unmolested time to do good work. Instead, your day is a torrent of interruptions, endlessly divided and subdivided, a Zeno’s paradox of infinite tasks. There’s no flow at all.
Not only is there NO FLOW, there is NO END IN SIGHT, and I think this is the issue I’m having the most problem with. When schools shut down, we knew there would be an end in sight… “if we can only get to the summer… when we flatten the curve…” I don’t know about you, but I felt there was a dim (albeit very dim at times) light at the end of the tunnel. And as a New Yorker, Gov. Cuomo’s daily briefings gave me hope that we would get through this.
So, again, there is no end in sight. There are only parents losing their sanity, with no good answers. There are kids who miss their friends, there are educators who are worried about their health… there are, again, no good answers, in a country that seems to have forgotten that science is an actual thing that we should listen to, a country that seems to have different rules in different states and where the haste of “opening the economy back up” has taken precedence over the health of its citizens.
I hate to tell you, this post doesn’t come with answers. Figuring out what to do about schools during COVID19 is hard, y’all.
I just wanted to say, what you’re feeling is normal. It is normal to feel like you don’t have an answer. (which I realize, is counterintuitive to our parenting, right? We are SUPPOSED to have answers, the answers that are the best for our kids… and yet, here we are).
It is normal to feel like you can’t make a decision because there are no great decisions, only crappy ones.
It is normal to want to go to sleep praying that you wake up to a day when covid19 wasn’t a thing, when the most pressing thing was to pick the date of the spring festival at your school, and to decide if you were running for PTA again.
It is also normal to take a long shower, and just to stand under the running water with tears streaming down your face because you have no child care, and because you don’t know where you’re going to get the strength to make it another semester with your kids being home.
Can we just be more like Canada, where they actually care for their citizens? Where, they acknowledge that, as therapists, child development experts, scientists and doctors have said “These are not normal times.” ?
I work for the Canadian federal government and they sent out an email with work at home guiding principles. It’s amazing to work for a place that speaks like this. pic.twitter.com/idkFMoHxHE
— Mark Richardson (@slavetothehat) May 11, 2020
Like I said, I have no answers. I’m just trying to process that in a few days, I have to make a decision about schooling for my kid and there is no good option in sight.
You are not alone mama. You are not alone.