I should start this out by saying that our two oldest kids are now back in school, in person—a spot I did not predict us being in, because most of me was (maybe still is?) quite uncomfortable with the idea of forcing the whole “back to normal” thing in the midst of a pandemic.
As someone who fully owns her situational anxiety, being forced out of my initial comfort zone is a hard spot to be in. Every time I send the kids into school, I have to consciously put effort into not going down Worst Case Scenario Road.
So to shut off my anxious brain in order to send the kids back to school in person means that we really needed a good reason to do so. And that good reason was virtual schooling.
With a second-grader and a kindergartener—and even with help watching our three-year-old—our days of virtual schooling (all three of them!) consisted of me beating a well-worn path between my son’s and daughter’s rooms as I paced back and forth, back and forth—no joke probably 100+ times—helping them find their worksheets, get their crayons, help with a math problem, explain the instructions on a writing assignment, help glue together a craft… and so on… and so on… etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum. SO MANY THINGS.
And that’s to say nothing of the fact that their schedules were different, so while my son was enjoying “recess,” a.k.a. swimming in the pool, my daughter was in class upstairs, and vice versa. Oh and with the three-year-old! That was fun!!! And yes, even with help I was literally ready to face-plant into my couch every night at 7pm.
So a few things I’ve learned as we stepped away from virtual schooling and now are back in session:
Parents who are still doing virtual, I bow down to you. Like, seriously. You’re just… I mean… you’re killing it. I don’t care if your kid hasn’t done a single assignment in a week or still doesn’t know what grade he’s in… the fact that you’re simply keeping on is like, gold medal status.
This pandemic has revealed so many kinks in the educational system, and hear me out when I say I am not blaming the teachers! This is not their fault! Nor is it the fault of the administration. What this pandemic has revealed, in my very non-expert opinion, is that we have heavily invested into a system that, while beneficial when working, is quite literally the only option we have to properly educate our kids. And that’s a problem when we, say, can’t leave our houses and actually get our kids into school.
I frankly think this whole virtual learning debacle makes a great case for bolstering homeschooling opportunities for kids, while simultaneously opening parents’ eyes to the freedom and extra-curricular learning opportunities that option can bring.
Wow, this is a tough one. While I’m not clinically anxious, I do have a knack for finding every possible problem and trying to solve it before it happens—as if I could build up some sort of virtual armor against every possible worst case scenario merely by imagining, and planning, for it.
As it turns out, this is just a giant waste of time. Like, huge!
So since sending my kids back to in-person learning, I have had to really internalize the concept that, while I may worry, I am not my anxiety. I am not defined by my worst fears. And therefore, I should spend less time and energy on them.
I know there are other parents out there trapped in this cycle of anxiety, so let me be the first to say that it is possible to be aware of the benefits versus the dangers, realize that it’s okay to worry a little, and still walk away knowing that we must leave it at that. A thought. A worry.
We cannot get by daily carrying such a massive burden. So find your mantra, find your therapist, phone a friend… just let all that stuff out… and then rest in being okay.
I’d love to hear from you all! Have you sent your kids back to school in person, or are you going virtual? What about the teachers out there—how’s it going in the classrooms? Drop into Comments and tell us what’s up!