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To the Parent Feeling Overwhelmed During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Parents are trying to multi-task several large roles that have been plopped into their laps because of the coronavirus pandemic — and it’s difficult.

We are learning our children’s subjects so that we can teach them. We’re making sure they complete their assignments, log into their Google classroom, download their assignments, turn in their assignments and connect with their teachers via Zoom or Google Meet. Some of us are doing all of this while taking phone and video conferences ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but my children are walking into my home office and asking questions during my video sessions. I guess it keeps things real and honest, but it’s definitely disruptive. How can we be expected to maintain the same level of academic rigor when we are not teachers, and how are we supposed to teach and monitor our children, their school work and their screen time? I’m overwhelmed already, but here are some tips that might help.

Create a Schedule for Your Family and Stick to It

I know you’ve read this over and over again, but it’s really helpful. That is, talk to your kids about a time to wake up, a time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a bedtime. Create another schedule for weekends, too. There may not be academics to fill in the daytime during the weekends, but that may be the day you expect everyone to clean their rooms, wash laundry or to complete certain chores around the house. Try to stick to this schedule daily so your children know what to expect.

There are days I feel very disjointed — those are the days I don’t have a schedule in place for myself. So, I sat down with my husband and three kids and we set a schedule. We all feel a little bit more settled because of the schedule. I’m someone who enjoys flexibility in the schedule, but I never realized how much I needed a schedule and how much I have to work to create and follow through on it, especially when the day feels like it has no beginning and no end.

Set a School Schedule With a Beginning and End Point

Our kids can’t work on their schoolwork for hours on end. There has to be a beginning and endpoint. Find out from your children when their teachers want them to log in to a video chat, etc. Overall, our teachers are ending their instruction by 3 p.m. or the time that the school bell would ring. For some, they have extensive homework to complete. However, create an endpoint so that there is time for your child to decompress and connect with their friends via video chats. As parents of little ones, please put your parenting guilt to the side about the amount of time you are able to invest in teaching your child. I know I have to keep my guilt in check as I’m trying to balance my work with my 7-year-old son’s reading, writing, spelling and math and the care for my patients.

Check-In Emotionally

Every few days, check in with your kids. Ask them about their understanding of COVID-19. Find out where they are gaining information and listen for information that is inaccurate. Point out that not all news is accurate and it’s our job to translate what’s sensational news and what is true. Ask your children about their worries. Listen but don’t feel the need to fix or make it better. Sympathize and normalize, but don’t minimize or say, “Don’t worry about that.” That type of statement can make your child’s worries feel trivial or actually trigger more anxiety or worry.

Please take care of yourself during this time. It will come to an end, but in the meantime, create some consistency during a time when we aren’t feeling settled.

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Getty image via UnitoneVector

Originally published: April 3, 2020
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