180 days. The length of both of my maternity leaves combined. That’s how long we’ve been at home. Using our home as my office, Mike’s office, our safe space, a classroom...
On March 13 my 5 year old and I walked to the bus stop to get his sister. We were both off because his preschool was closed. She got off the bus and never got back on until today.
I normally love back to school season. I have a slight obsession with office supplies. But this year is different… to state the obvious.
I could not get excited. I could only feel anxious and worried. So many choices, decisions, unknowns, and emotions. I wanted to get excited. I know my kids need me to be excited for them and their journey. This is their childhood and their memories, and they are navigating the emotions and unknowns much better than me.
So I sucked it up, ordered some school clothes and supplies, updated our letterboard for first day photos and pushed through. Fake it till you make it…
But I’m not necessarily making it. I’m taking it day to day and communicating often with my decision making partner and my kids. Our school district is currently offering full remote or hybrid option of two days in school and three days remote for a de-densified school. We have selected hybrid option for both kids at this point but also set a standard for our household for when we would move to full remote.
I’m overwhelmed with what that has done to our work schedules and our day to day. But I’m also so grateful for options.
Most days I feel short tempered, tired of constantly passing out snacks, tired, and I just want 5 uninterrupted minutes to myself (and no one touching me). I feel guilty for those feelings but I'm learning to share them with my family and ask for more space when I need it.
I spend arguably too much time on social media, running a small business can do that. You can’t visit any social media site without seeing debate about response to COVID. But parent groups are getting me the worst right now. The mean comments and demands on our school districts and our precious teachers. When did we start expecting superhero responses from everyday people like ourselves? There’s a reason superheroes aren’t real.
So if you are reading this and you have a role where you have to make decisions for others related to COVID, you’re a teacher going back into the classroom, a caretaker, a parent, a student, a medical professional, an everyday person trying to navigate life right now - you’re doing amazing! You are a real life superhero and I’m thankful for you.
There is one emotion that keeps coming up for me and that’s sacrifice.
- Am I sacrificing my kids health?
- Am I sacrificing my career?
- Am I sacrificing my mental health?
- Am I sacrificing my relationships?
Yes, yes to all of them. But I also believe that the sacrifice is worth it for the safety of my family and others. But believing it’s worth it, doesn’t make it easy.
So if you’re feeling all the emotions and struggling to - be gentle on yourself.
While navigating the back to school season, it’s important to me that I recognize the privileges of my family. We have options, a safe home, food, technology, flexible careers, two parents in our home, a supportive school district, amazing neighbors and friends, and the ability to make decisions for our family. I do not take these for granted.
Mike and I have been talking a lot of about being a supportive community with other families with school age children and some ideas have come to mind -
- Check in on your parent friends
- Check in on your teacher friends
- Donate or volunteer with your local food bank
- Buy and send a wifi hotspot to a student who may need one
- Ask your school district if you can donate school supplies or pay some lunch accounts
- If you are the employer of parents, give flexibility and understanding
So if you are feeling the same struggles or completely different struggles, please know that you’re doing the best you can. Give yourself grace. I’m grateful for you.
I have to also give my kids a major shout out. They have been so flexible and excited to try new routines, and they are champion mask wearers! As I tried to make some memories and get more excitement, we made a fun craft - beaded mask chains.