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How My Kids Are Schooling Me About Distance Learning

It’s been one week since my kids’ school announced that it was closing through the end of spring break, April 20, due to coronavirus prevention measures, and I’m not going deny that this news inspired an immediate sense terror in me. I mean, of course I love being with my kids, but not 24/7! And home schooling a third grader and a first grader? No thanks. Coupled with the social distancing mandate, I just wasn’t feeling too confident about how to handle this new reality.

Distance learning started Monday and, as I suspected, playing the roles of both teacher and parent is hard. Even with all of the materials and resources provided by the kids’ teachers, I’m finding that teaching takes a ton of time, patience and planning. And then there’s the issue of balancing my kids’ needs with my own work and home tasks. But despite my trepidation, I’m finding that my kids’ understanding of the situation — school closed (and everywhere else), events canceled, vacation postponed, no play dates—and their general acceptance of it, has surprised me so far. I wouldn’t say that my kids are eager to start “home school” every morning, but they are, at the very least … amenable. And they are present and participating in the process. I don’t know what more I could ask for on that front.

So far, social distancing isn’t proving quite as difficult for the kids as I thought it would be, either. The girls have spontaneous dance parties DJ’d by Alexa. They write letters to their friends in the neighborhood, delivered to their mailboxes by scooter for “PE class.” They have FaceTime play dates. Our 7 year old has taught my husband and I how to play two new card games — “slapjack” and “trash.” My husband is building doll furniture with the kids. We had movie night on a Wednesday. And miraculously, the kids have been getting along, well most of the time at least.

As it turns out, I’d have to say my kids are teaching me how to deal with this situation, rather than the other way around. I’m finding ways to squeeze my own work in at various points in the day — thankfully, I’m a freelancer with a more flexible schedule. I’m asking the kids to help me out a little more often with chores around the house. I’m learning how to slow down a little more and be fully present in the moment. And I’m trying to accept that things may not go back to “normal” for quite some time. I can’t promise how I’ll feel about all of this “togetherness” next week, but at the present moment, my kids’ resiliency and understanding has left me with a sense of optimism and hope, and a true appreciation for those whom I love most — my family.

How are you coping with juggling work and kids during quarantine? Share with us @BritandCo!