“Give yourself a break. Stop beating yourself up! Everyone makes mistakes, has setbacks and failures. You don’t come with a book on how to get it right all the time. You will fail sometimes, not because you planned to, but simply because you’re human. Failure is part of creating a great life.”~ Les Brown
If you are like many parents in the Elk Grove region, you just survived your second week of homeschooling!
Give yourself a high five or pour another glass of wine to celebrate the tenacity and endurance of your patience. Don’t forget to praise your kid as well. They are demonstrating resilience during this unprecedented time. Your homeschool peers in the trenches hear you loud and clear, some of us louder than others, as you proclaim to really anyone who will listen “There is no way I can do this!”
As an 8-year veteran homeschooler, I received MANY upset or voicemails, social media questions, and instant messages from friends who are just getting started on the path to homeschooling.
I heard anxious voices saying, “I’m already overwhelmed” as they tried to turn on that Chromebook. Or as they exclaimed, “Who thought it was a good idea to do virtual preschool?” And they still had to worry about making dinner.
During this universally stressful time, it is vital that we take care of our mental health in our homeschools. Call it “Distance Learning” or “Schooling at Home” many parents have been thrust into the role of “primary educator” and it’s just one more layer of stress in the bubbling stress lasagna that is Pandemic Life.
Kids Are Stressed Too
It’s not only the parents who are stressed out, but the kids are also starting to seem wild. A friend honestly referred to her health-conscious, socially distancing children as “remotely feral” outside of the rigid structure of the public school system. That perky little guy who struggled with sleep before the beginning of the pandemic may now suffer from full-on insomnia. And unfortunately, many less desirable traits have been dialed up because of the pandemic. The big trait though is anxiety.
You Need To RELAX & Connect!
As a veteran homeschooler, I want to share what my first homeschool mentor Evie uttered to me. Mind you, I was sobbing into my pumpkin spice latte at our first co-op Meet Up.
“Girl, you need to relax.”
Then she explained in her blunt manner that society would have you believe that your child is going to get held back from preschool if they are not reading by age 3. And that is really “a lie, meant to get you to buy more tutoring, educational websites, and remediation products for your kids,” said Evie. Evie and I take different approaches as homeschoolers. I like most of the educational websites and refer to them often, as we use a “hands-on, unit study” approach. While her family follows a “wild school approach” as she calls it, each child leads their own learning adventures. One of us thrives with structure and order in our home, while the other feels anxious and claustrophobic when she has to follow a curriculum of any sort.
Most of us were still eating paste and learning how to cut our friends’ hair with scissors when we were preschoolers. So breathe, and relax. Take some daily time for self-care, which is not selfish, I’ll have you know. It’s a matter of survival for the parent who does it all, and really, we need to stop doing it all.
Self-Care: Yes You Need It
Right now, you have to be the best teacher you can be to your child. You can do this by figuring what your needs are. Some of you just hit a full mental stop. Think to yourselves, “What are my needs?” Or maybe you don’t even know what your needs are. Or maybe you’re too busy to even think about your needs. Hit the pause button and chill.
Not knowing what our own needs are could just be one of the reasons we are so anxious as parents. And while you may “need” a hair cut and a mani-pedi right now, the plague has made those a luxury for many of us.
Demonstrate good self-care, and pick up a new, healthy, low-cost coping mechanism during this stressful time.
Learning a new language
Yoga, Meditation, or Prayer
Enjoying your hobbies and interests
Reduce your own expectations a bit. You won’t be the perfect teacher, so don’t expect to be the next Ms. Frizzle. You may just be the “Mom who taught science in her PJs all week” and that is okay. In ten years, we’ll look back and know that we made the right decision – one that just might have made all the difference for us and our people.
We stayed home, we socially distanced, we washed our hands and we did our best.
So relax. It’s just the beginning of this homeschool experience.