Since my college graduation, I have committed myself to advocating for and educating underserved communities. From a residential facility, to a classroom, to nonprofit work, I worked tirelessly for the families I served and poured myself into every role I had.
When my daughter was born, I took a step back, knowing that much of the passion I put into direct family services would be diverted to my own growing family. Fortunately, I landed at Participate Learning in a meaningful role that would allow me to continue my advocacy and my passion for educational equity while allowing for flexibility to create a balance between home and work.
Then, 2020 happened.
As offices, schools, and businesses shut down, so, too, did my carefully crafted boundaries between work, home, and school. Like so many others, I found myself wearing many hats simultaneously: employee, parent, teacher. Determining when and how to shift roles when necessary required a dexterity that was as-yet-undeveloped in March.
With almost five months of homeschooling, home-working, and parenting 24-7 under my belt, I’ve learned a few things about our education system, work-life balance, and how to be both a parent and a teacher to your child. Here are some of my main takeaways I can offer to other parents who might be struggling with balancing it all as well.
1. We are building the plane as we fly it.
There is no playbook for a pandemic and shelter-in-place. We are collectively building the plane as we fly it and hoping it doesn’t crash and burn along the way. With working, parenting, and schooling all happening under one roof, it is impossible to be perfect all the time. Not to mention the looming fact that there is a novel virus spreading through our communities every day.
As a footnote, my daughter recently underwent coronavirus testing. She was born with a preexisting condition that could potentially increase the severity of the impact of the virus on her system, so this particular experience caused a scare for the whole family. Having been a part of that painful, traumatic experience and the fear between testing and results, I’d do anything to avoid feeling that again and encourage others to do all they can to avoid experiencing that same trauma and fear.
Luckily, her results came back negative, and we were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief and gratitude. However, it doesn’t change the fact that along with simultaneously balancing all of these new responsibilities with work and family, we are also worrying about the safety and well-being of our loved ones. We have heard over and over again these are “unprecedented” times, and they really are just that. Be gentle with yourself. We are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.
2. Have faith in educators.
I have a deep and profound respect for our educators. I know that the teachers who work with my child love her and are invested in her well-being—educational and personal. Wherever we may drop the ball, I know that they will pick it up.
It is a hard reality knowing that for many students, they will still have to adapt to some form of remote learning from home. All I can say is encourage your child to do their best to stay motivated and engaged but know that even if they fall behind or struggle to grasp a concept, trust that the dedicated professionals in the education field will be there to guide them.
3. Embrace the unexpected.
When I watched my daughter walk into her first day of kindergarten, I realized that life as we knew it was ending. No more midday lunch dates or playdates with friends; our aimless meandering weekdays were a thing of the past. The pandemic changed all of that by giving us more time.
We were able to take the shelter-in-place order as an opportunity to make meaningful memories during these formative years. In the past few months, my daughter learned how to swim, we have had more outdoor adventures and day trips than ever before, and we were able to appreciate the true bliss of a Harry Potter book marathon together. Beyond all of the stress and chaos caused by coronavirus, this extra time with my daughter is a gift I will cherish.
It is important for me to acknowledge that my perspective comes from a place of privilege because I work for a company that values the well-being of its employees and allows for the flexibility that is so needed during this time. But unfortunately, that is not the case for all who are trying to find this delicate balance.
I cannot stress enough the importance of voting in order to improve our systems and support all the people who make up our communities. The lives of first responders, essential workers, and educators who are dedicated to helping the people in the communities they serve should be a priority to us all: employees, business owners, political leaders, and community members alike. Let’s rally together and show what love can look like in the time of COVID.
For more information and resources on remote learning, check out this free Community of Practice offered by our sister company, Participate Inc., to support caregivers in navigating learning at home. To stay up to date on the latest news from Participate Learning, follow our twitter account @ParticipateLrng.