Ready or not, the way of learning, working and living has changed for many. Our employers expect us to work, while schools expect us to teach, and our children expect us to entertain them. The way we maneuver through this pandemic will look different for everyone. Here are a few ways I have learned to cope with the reality of becoming a full-time work from home mom…and now a teacher.
Keeping to a Schedule
With a first grader, a toddler, and two full-time work from home parents, schedules are important. We have all learned to thrive off of structure to keep us sane. Every weekday, I wake up before the sun (and the kiddos) to ensure I have time to tend to work emails. Once the kids are awake, we make an effort to eat breakfast together as a family. From there, my husband and I debate on whose meetings are more important and who will be in charge of the kids at what hours during the day.
Our school, Eel River in the Northwest Allen County school district, has done a phenomenal job of creating a school-like schedule for their students. Assignments are posted first thing every morning, with announcements from the Principal and the Pledge of Allegiance being the first tasks to complete. My first grader has learned to work independently, except for when she gets to her math lessons. And let me tell you, I am not cut out for first grade math.
Remember earlier when I mentioned the toddler? Well, his schedule looks very different. We have had to stick to strict nap times and a lot of independent play. I have found that adding my kid’s schedules to my work calendar helps to balance my time and their time.
It’s easy for students and parents to become stressed and overwhelmed, so as helpful as schedules have been, it is just as important to remember they are flexible.
Make Time for Play
Being silly and incorporating playtime into our busy schedules has helped us to remain “normal” through this not-so-normal time. We have mandatory dance parties around lunchtime and we plan a special event once a week. Last week, we had a movie theater night in our living room and this week will be glow-in-the-dark bowling.
During the day, my first grader will typically take breaks for playtime between each assignment to avoid getting flustered or bored. Let’s be honest, playtime also means more screen time and that’s okay! Although I am guilty of encouraging my littles to binge cartoons, we have also tried to provide alternatives to technology. One of our favorite “during school” activities is watching a GoNoodle video for a quick brain break.
Laughing and engaging in playtime together are only a couple ways we have continued to support one another in our home, but it is important to make sure you as a parent are supported in many other ways.
Support Each Other
“It takes a village” is my momma mantra, but unfortunately my village is more than six feet away right now. I know I am not alone, as many parents are experiencing this right alongside me. I have turned to Facebook groups and many Facetime calls to family and friends to help cope with the reality of having a toddler in quarantine, becoming a teacher all while managing my own workload.
My first grader has two zoom meetings daily with her teacher and classmates. This is a great time for the students to support each other. They listen to one another, laugh and tell stories. I have also heard on more than one occasion “Do you want to see my house?!”. Not only are the students supported, but our teachers and administrative staff have made every effort to ensure the parents are supported as well. I receive emails every evening from our teacher letting me know assignments have been completed for that day and how best to accomplish the next day’s workload.
I have found it important to rely on my coworkers (not my three-feet-tall coworkers, but my actual coworkers) and also support them in any way I can. I tend to make it known to the person on the other end of the meeting that they will likely hear and see kids in the background. Actually, hearing other people’s chaotic backgrounds brings me a wave of relief.
Although the reality of remote learning is not ideal, our community of teachers and administrative staff, as well as our family and friends have made this transition manageable. As long as we are keeping to a flexible schedule, continuing our daily sillies, and supporting one another, I can continue my work, help teach my child all while keeping the house entertained.