By: Angela Caban
Before you settle into reading this, this is not an article where I am giving advice. I am not going to give some amazing tips about working from home and homeschooling during a pandemic. I am still trying to figure this all out myself and if you ask my kids, mommy gets a C as her final grade. This is still a passing grade, right?
IT’S BEEN ONE YEAR. ONE YEAR…
Working from home with kids has always been challenging, but I was finally at that stage in life where my kids were old enough to understand mommy is working, please don’t interrupt her unless someone is bleeding. But like a lot of families, we were faced with balancing work and school under the same roof, and with a husband in the medical field – I was left to fend for myself. At the beginning of all of this, I tried hard to establish a routine and stick to it. Being positive and organized is usually how I thrive in all that I do. I illustrated what our days would look like on a large calendar and taped it on the wall in my office. The poster kept falling off the wall — no doubt, a foreshadowing of its imminent demise.
I researched for days what I should be doing to ensure both children stayed on track with their assignments, as well as what parents needed to be doing to support a healthy mental state for them. Most experts say kids need routine. But it turns out, sticking to one in the midst of a pandemic is not so easy. My son, who I have spoken openly before about, has ADHD – an intelligent child who has trouble staying focused and organized was in his last year of middle school and the pressure of ensuring I was going to be the reason he suffered in the last 3 months of school was on. My daughter, only in second grade and completely new to Google classroom and Chrome books needed all the guidance and help she could get. Ever see the typing speed of a second-grader? We navigated life, school, and work through a perpetual cloud of uncertainty for far too long.
Working From Home + Homeschooling During a Pandemic… A Game Changer
We had our good days and bad days, there was no in-between. The good days were the days the kids completed their daily tasks without attitude or tears, and I got in at least 4 hours of work in <—- these days were unusual. The bad days were a norm for us, these always ended in tears with the second-grader stating, “I was confusing her” and “that’s not the way we learn this in school”, or my eighth-grader missing assignments because he forgot to check his Google Classroom. So as the days went on, and more bad days passed us, the more I said, “screw it!” The entire day and routine went right out the window and what became a day off for the kids, became just a normal working day for me. There was now a new kind of balance of what I was able to give my kids. On the days I got all my work done I felt as if I was failing them, even though we were all taking on new roles and doing things that we haven’t necessarily done before.
Every single weekday I woke up was dreadful, feeling the anxiety that I also paired with “Okay, I guess this is just the way things are now.” Every day felt like a juggling act, wondering what wasn’t going to make it on the to-do list. Sometimes that meant my sanity. But as the days went on and we neared the end of the school year, it started to feel normal. The kids started to get excited about our end-of-month beach house vacation and life almost felt less heavy. While I would not want to EVER experience this again and pray daily for the return of the school year in September, this experience has left me with a new outlook on my personal and professional life. As if I have broken down the silos of work, home, and school lives — and that could be a good thing.
Here we are today, just a few weeks away from spring break and exactly one year from the lockdown anniversary. Guess what? I didn’t screw my kids up, they are doing well, are excited about spring break (and so am I), and will have one heck of an experience to remember when older.
But in all seriousness, if there was something I could say to myself back in March 2020, is chill out and don’t beat yourself up. These kids are stronger than you. Embrace the suck, you’ll get through it and will do the best you can.