COVID-19. Do your days right now just feel like endless re-runs of the movie Groundhog Day where everything is the same every single day and it feels like there is no end in sight?
It is okay to admit if you feel that way. I feel that way too.
Regardless, I am sure you have some semblance of routine with your kids down by now whether that may be homeschooling or chores, or walks or whatever sense of normal works for your family. For our family, we have developed a routine of homeschooling, playing, being creative, and using our imaginations.
Like all families we have our bad days.
We have our days when the motivation is just is not there. We have days when our minds are preoccupied by other things that are absolutely more important than sitting and working on math and reading. I am looking at you, my lovely seven-year-old son. We have the days when we fight Mom on everything she wants to do. On those days — when life is a battle — I do my best to remain calm and to try to motivate my kids to keep working hard and to do their best. Usually we can take a break and get back on track.
Recently, I started thinking. Why are some days such a battle?
I mean, I am prepared with well thought out lessons and plans to make learning fun and engaging. Why does it have to be a battle? As we started homeschooling, we have adjusted our schedule to accommodate breaks and to maximize the time doing our school work. I have reminded myself that less is more. But still I ask the question. Why the battle?
Right now self-care is a huge buzz word. Self-care means doing what we can to take care of ourselves to be the best we can be for those we love and to be true to who we are. This is especially important in this time of isolation. As adults we are trying to find time to care for ourselves while also parenting in a time when we rarely leave our homes. It’s rough. After I started thinking about my kids and what makes some of our days not so great, it dawned on me.
How are our kids caring for themselves? How are they processing all of this?
I think about life from a kid’s point of view. They get up. They get dressed for the day, eat breakfast, off to school they go. They see their friends and teachers. They learn, they play, they laugh, they are goofy, they have an outlet. They (unless you homeschool) leave their homes to do their job. Now that has all been taken away from them. They are expected to learn from home while only seeing their parents and siblings (or only parents if they are an only child). They can see their friends with video chats and class Google Hangouts but let’s be real; it is not the same to talk to someone through the computer as it is to be with them in person. Oh my gosh; no wonder my kids, and I am sure others, have rough days.
Their whole world has been turned upside down where nothing is as it should be.
Imagine a hand to the forehead in a “duh” moment. That is how I felt. How did I not think about this? How did I not think to talk to my kids about how they were feeling with all of this?
I was so busy trying to maintain a schedule for my kids to thrive in and to make our days go smoothly, that I did not even think to sit down with them to decompress and to ask the questions about how they are actually doing.
When this realization hit me, I hit a figurative reset button. I went to my son and asked if we could talk. He climbed up in the chair with me and we talked about everything. We talked about his fears with COVID-19. We talked about what he is nervous about. We talked about what he misses the most. We just talked.
This conversation was so enlightening on many levels.
I learned why he feels the way he feels. I learned that these meltdowns are just built up stress of uncertainty that we are all feeling right now. My son felt heard. He felt valued. I learned that just as we want to receive grace from others, we also need to give grace. We need to give our kids grace when their hearts are just are not in it. We have to give grace when they do not have the energy or enthusiasm to do another math problem or read another book.
We are all dealing with these stressful times in our own ways.
We grieve what should have been or what plans we had. Not only are we dealing with this as adults, but our kids are dealing with this too. I encourage you to try to take a walk in their shoes when hard days happen. I encourage you to think about the sense of loss they are feeling. I encourage you to check in with your kids and let them talk about what they are experiencing and feeling. We all want to be heard.
My hope is by talking to our kids about this and letting them guide the conversation, they will feel they can share with us and let their voices be heard. We will remind them that even though these times are hard, we are going to get through this together.
This too shall pass and there are brighter days ahead.