The one thing I’m keeping in mind this school year is that our children feed off our own energy. I know it might not be successful and I know it will definitely not be easy but in the end, these are still our own children and they need to get through this as much as we do, as their adult parents. Life will go on as normal at some point but right now it really sucks and we will get through this.
I am not an expert and I have no more experience than any other parent who has also found themselves stumbling along in this school environment. Even before school shut down due to coronavirus, I was still a very lost parent with a very atypical child in the public school classroom. None of this has been easy for me or my son and that's something we've been dealing with for years, not just months.
I continue to remind myself of the one thing I had control over when I first brought home a brand new infant from the hospital seven years ago. It’s important to keep my energy calm for my child so that he can feed off of that rather than high anxiety or stress. I don't know about you, but my son knows how I'm feeling and it’s important to send him positive energy and show him that I have confidence in where things are going, even when I don’t.
How can we do that, when all we feel right now is stress? It's ok to take a break and take a moment to ourselves to cry. It's ok to be frustrated. It's ok to mourn or grieve over the loss of where we assumed our life was headed at this moment. Sure, I'm upset that my son, who is an only child, doesn't have a classroom full of children right now, like he did last year. I've been super stressed out between working full-time in the office and from home, and also taking on the role of my child's teacher - a role that I am not qualified for in the least bit.
The important thing is maintaining control over how we react to these situations in front of our children. They look to us for guidance on how to behave and what's truly important in life. We are their first teachers and how we respond under stress sends them the messages that will stick with them for the rest of their lives (or until they can deal with it in therapy as adults!).
Every time we complain about how stupid distance learning is or question whether our child’s teacher, school, or district knows what they’re doing, we put some fear and insecurity into our child. Is that the message we want to be feeding our children - that hard things aren’t worth doing? I, for one, have raised my son with the opposite - that we can do hard things and that they are often more rewarding than easy things because they build strength and resilience and character, which not everyone is capable of. If everything was easy, everyone would be doing ALL THE THINGS!
It's my goal to send my son the message that he's doing his best, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. I do this through keeping my cool when I'm feeling irritated, by taking deep breaths and stepping back for a moment, allowing both of us an opportunity to take a break when we aren't at our best. I remind myself of the version of me that I want to represent to my son as his mother. I remind myself that I am raising a human who will someday be an adult and it's my responsibility to show him what a successful adult looks like.
Show yourself grace during this time, and continue to show your kids love. The energy you put in right now will be well worth it in the end.