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It’s the first day of virtual school and I’m already losing my mind. How am I going to survive this?

Families Mental Health School

A: Parents, we see you.

Parenting in a pandemic is hard. It’s really, really hard.

Many parents are being tasked with managing virtual learning, often involving age-inappropriate expectations for our young children to spend hours (and hours) seated/on Zoom calls. All around us, parents–especially moms–are taking leaves of absence from their careers in order to stay home with kids. This move can very reasonably lead to some big emotions, not all of them warm and fuzzy. Others among us are struggling with guilt or shame around sending our child back to in-person education or day care so we can work, or just so we can get a little peace. Some of us are providing care for a child with special needs in the absence of in-person therapy and supportive services. Parents who formerly counted on free public schooling as the place our kids go to be safe and supervised suddenly find that we are paying out-of-pocket for care. We’ve been cooped up at home, struggling with both loneliness and a burning need to be alone, for almost 6 months. Financial stress, career stress, partner stress, health stress, emotional stress, stressed-out children. It’s really no surprise that this is a sh*tshow.

Yet we have extremely high expectations for ourselves. A poll by the New York Times in June indicated that parents nationwide were feeling more internal pressure to provide parent-led educational activities than ever before–and that was over the summer! Now that school is starting, we are all making those insanely detailed homeschooling agendas and hoping they will be our lighthouse in the coming storm.

While making a *routine* is a great idea, those type-A agendas won’t help. What we really need is to give ourselves a little grace.

In our quest to survive a year of homeschooling we never planned or chose, we’ve come across a couple of helpful resources.

1. The Balanced Parent podcast from Laura Froyen, PhD.

Dr. Froyen’s core mission is to help parents who are overwhelmed and disconnected with reconnection, confidence, and restoring balance and compassion in our relationships. We especially love her focus on letting go of perfection, being easy on yourself, and filling your own cup. Dr. Froyen has some great tips for parenting with younger children, partnering, connecting with your kids, and self-care. She has a bunch of FREE resources and workshops on her website. Bust out your earbuds and tune in while you’re doing the dishes or picking up the Legos (again).

2. Another great podcast: Parenting in a Pandemic from Australian child psychologist and creator of the 3 P’s method for positive parenting, Dr. Matthew Sanders.
Practical topics include family feuds, unhealthy coping habits, helping your child through anxiety, and building a healthy home-school partnership–and many, many more. Plus, Australian accents make listening feel like an exotic vacation! Okay, not really. But it is a good podcast.

3. The Verge put together a list of useful tips and tricks that range from the practical to the philosophical. Ideas include switching to cordless headphones so the kids can walk around while they’re on those synchronous video calls, rearranging your living spaces, lowering expectations, “don’t beat yourself up too much.” “The pandemic has made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to see the forest for the trees,” says one dad.

The forest view: The pandemic will end. We promise. 2020-2021 will likely be the most peculiar year of your child’s education. Keep in mind that this is true for every child, not just yours. We are all struggling. You are not alone. We see you.

NYT poll results

Link to original FB post