Our lives have all been turned upside down and inside out with the coronavirus pandemic. My children miss their friends, teachers, grandparents, school, activities, swim lessons, and the list goes on and on. This is so incredibly difficult and very scary.
Distance Learning might be one of the biggest struggles. It is new to all of us, and we are all doing the BEST we can under very unique circumstances.
I was a teacher before becoming a stay-at-home mom, and everyone keeps saying to me that this should be easy for me with my background. This is anything but easy for anyone! Don’t let the social media posts with parents that are LOVING spending quality time with families 24/7 fool you.
There is a reason children go to school and a reason adults go to work or volunteer – everyone needs a break from each other! We all need socialization with people outside of our families, and this is just part of human nature! I commend all of the fantastic baking projects and art assignments that I have seen on social media. GREAT JOB! I can’t get my children to do anything! I beg and plead and bribe with treats and hot cocoa, apple cider, and whipped cream on ice cream.
I break up fights and wipe tears, change diapers, make meals, clean up, do laundry, clean up, turn electronics off, take away screen time, and pray for bedtime. These last 30+ days have been the LONGEST of my entire life! I love my children dearly and would walk through fire to keep them safe and sound, but I’m exhausted! They are exhausted and drained. EVERYONE is exhausted and may just be putting on a brave face, or they are superheroes.
I wish a superhero would come to save the day and help my children understand that this is our new reality. I think my 6-year-old understands and is doing her best. My 3-year-old with special needs has had such a difficult time. She needs the socialization, the routine, structure, and speech therapy that her teachers provide. She misses her friends and teachers and the bus and daily routine that has disappeared from her life. She throws tantrums and breaks things when she begs to go to school or play on the playground. I try to explain that she can’t right now. She doesn’t understand, and at 3 years old, I’m having a hard time continuing with her Distance Learning.
We try the activities sent home and read stories, play with playdough, color, and bake. Most importantly, I let her play. She is fortunate to have her older sister to play with, so at least she has someone else to relate to.
Routine and consistency are so important for any child but put a special needs child in this situation, and it’s like ripping the floor out from under them and putting them on a rollercoaster from another planet. I know most of you can relate, but it’s so difficult when your child has a communication delay and is desperately trying to tell you what they want or need, and you can’t figure it out.
My advice is to take breaks throughout the day and try to follow a schedule if you can. Try to get dressed every day and at least wash your face if you don’t take a shower. I’ve yet to put makeup on or get dressed in anything other than leggings (but I always wear leggings anyway). Zoom or Facetime with relatives and friends. I had my birthday party via Zoom (arranged by my Mom). Exercise or go for walks while practicing social distancing. Make beds, do laundry, and clean up as usual.
If you never clean up your playroom, then don’t start now. Pick your battles. I’ve found that my kids do better going to bed later than usual, and we start school at 10 or 11 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. Do what works best for you, not for anyone else. It’s ok to take a mental health break! I’ve put my kids in front of an educational show and have gone to another room to watch a show of my own. Ellen has been uplifting for me.
It’s ok to be scared and afraid. I think we all are but try to take care of your family as best you can. Try to stay normal or as normal as possible in this uncertain time. Your family needs you, and you can do this! At the end of the day, we are all trying our best, and honestly, that’s the best we can do.
Hang in there! We’ve got this! Stay Strong! Stay Home to Save Lives!
Amanda B. grew up in Bronxville, NY, and has lived in Fairfield County for over 8 years. She was a teacher in New York before becoming a stay-at-home mom. She has a master’s degree in Childhood Education and Special Education. She attended the University of Vermont and considers Vermont “her happy place.” She lives in Westport, CT, and spends some weekends in Peru, VT. She enjoys spending time with her husband Geoff and daughters Morgan (2013) and Emma (2016), volunteering, shopping, watching TV, skiing, hanging out at the beach, and playing tennis.