My sons’ began their virtual schooling last week. The first 7 days are going to be focused on technology to make sure the teachers, parents, and students are all able to access everything and follow instructions online. We have had a few hiccups on our side. Teachers have had a few hiccups on their side. Children have been resilient and following the process without much fuss.
The truth is though that even though everyone is trying their best to go with this new temporary flow, many of us hate it. And yes, hate is a strong word but even for an introvert like me or my child, not going to school and not having that fun time with teachers and students like they usually have has been nerve-racking.
And yes, I know that in the United States, especially where we are at, we are blessed. We all have computers to use, we have space to give to our children and ourselves and our only hiccup is that we have to be there with our children during school time to help them. So in a lot of ways I am blessed. But even though when we are blessed, ignoring how we really feel is not going to get us anywhere.
Gratitude is great. But denying our emotions and our feelings is not. So I decided to write this post regardless of where I am and how blessed I am because I know that a lot of parents and teachers feel blessed in their situations but still have a lot going on mentally.
This overwhelming feeling we are feeling right now, this sadness that has taken over us is grief.
The grief of not being able to say a proper goodbye to the last school year, to the last year’s team (parents, friends, students, teachers, bus mates)
The grief of not being able to come back to the regular routine that we all worked so hard to build for so many years for ourselves
The grief of having our life as we know it suddenly taken away from us without much notice. I still remember the last day that was normal. March 12. March 13 onwards life changed for most parents, teachers, and students. Parents miss talking to other friends, other colleagues, having me time. Students miss their friends and teachers and time away from their parents. Teachers miss their students. I am not a teacher but my mother is a teacher and I have seen first hand how much she loves her job and her time with kids and how much she is missing her normal routine.
Today, none of us knows what normal is any more. We have not even finished grieving what we have lost in the last 6 months. And now, along with those overwhelming emotions that we have not been taught how to express, we are expected to learn something new and get our teachers, parents and kids rolling with it and act as if everything is ok.
The truth is we are all not ok and we have to stop expecting everyone to be ok with this. We are just doing the best we can as teachers, parents, and students with the knowledge we have and the desire we have to keep everyone as safe as possible in today’s circumstances.
Let me be clear, this post does not come from a place of ” I have no stress”. This post comes from the place of, I am overwhelmed and working through it and I wonder if what I am doing and have to say might help others too.
So here are a few tips to help today’s parents and (possibly teachers and students) to keep overwhelm and stress at bay.
- Stop expecting everything to go smoothly. We all now know that this is 2020 and if anything has to go wrong it will. Expect hiccups. This lesson has been the hardest for me to learn. (This is not school-related but we were supposed to get a puppy but now the owners have coronavirus and we have a huge question mark and we are dealing with the stress of it on the side. So since that happened, I have learned to lower my expectations to zero this year. )
- Give grace. If you are unable to operate technology, if your teacher is slow in learning technology or operating it, or your student is having trouble, give grace. Give everyone some extra time and benefit of the doubt this year. More than likely, someone who is not able to deliver is going through extreme stress themselves so let’s from our side give that person a lot of love and kindness.
- Take this sentence out of the equation “children will be left behind in studies”. One of my friends shared this with me and it seemed a good lesson to keep in mind. If you seem to think of this scenario, ask yourself, behind of what and whom? What are you comparing your student’s school year to? One year of slow schooling or even no schooling is not going to put a huge dent in our student’s life. And this post is for people who are virtually learning. We are in much better shape so we are not going to be behind, trust me.
- Enjoy nature. We have this bonus time to enjoy outdoors. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, go outdoors and breathe fresh air as much as possible. It helps me and my children get back to our center. We try to use a lot of time to be outside, even if it means on the deck or the patio, it is ok.
- Give yourself compassion. If you are trying your best, but things keep going wrong, know that we are all in this together. Know that we are suffering together. Give yourself some words of kindness. Give yourself encouragement. If you are a perfectionist, you should give yourself extra time and compassion because I know you will be holding yourself at a higher level than you hold others, and in return, you will criticize yourself unnecessarily. So give yourself compassion.
- Share your feelings and emotions with those who understand. If you are able to create space for listening to other parents and teachers and students without judgment, do it. Open up space for people to just share their feelings. No judgment is very important. If you feel you are going to be judged for sharing something, find a more supportive group to be able to share your concerns. You are welcome to join my STRESS-FREE PROSPERITY group and share you feelings there. We have more open-minded, non-judgemental parents and teachers and coaches in this group who will help you feel supported and heard.
- Schedule time for your own relaxation and self-care. If you are a teacher or a parent or even a student this implies to all of you. You have to schedule a time to work out, or do yoga or meditate, go outdoors, paint, attend a sound bath or do something that really helps you reconnect with your being and helps you feel centered and focused. If you schedule your time but do not know what to do for relaxation, you can check out my Ultimate Relaxation Masterclass for ideas.
- Most importantly, allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. Allow yourself to feel sad. Allow yourself to grieve over what you have lost. Yes, you may not have lost an actual living person but you have lost your way of normal living. And this normal living is almost an entity, a person. And you are allowed to grieve over it. Once you allow your grief to process, you will be able to more easily change and adopt new ways with more eager and less pain.
- If you are working full time and there is no way you can devote your time to your children, hire a person or tutor to help if you can afford it. If not, see if you can change your work timings or arrange your children’s desk in a way where you can simultaneously pay attention to your kids and work. If you have a spouse or a partner, see if they can help out as well and take turns to focus on children’s work. Keep a log between the two of you to make sure you keep the communication flowing.
- If there is a friend or a family member who can look after your children along with yours, ask for that help (if you find it safe based on the social distancing standards being followed). You never know who might be your savior. Make sure you are needing this help for a genuine reason especially if you are not going to be able to pay this person any wages.
Remember we are all in this together, even though our circumstances might be entirely different, we are all feeling it. And for many of us, just knowing this common humanity between us helps to know that we are not alone in this world.
If you are a parent or a teacher and have more ways to share how you are processing your stress, please post in the comments below so we all learn from you as well.