Written by Erin Long
Although our mission at Worldwide Speech is to help your child achieve its fullest potential, the coronavirus crisis has forced me to rethink what it means for everyone to live life to the fullest. My two children have been at home, full-time, since March 16th. The first assumption was that school would resume at the end of April. Now the school has announced it will continue online classes for the remainder of the year. This has become a trying time with little information and much change. Kids and parents working from home, in homes that had very little time to prepare for the new norm.
This is our new normal and there is no guide to follow, no timeline to help us set markers, we are recreating the wheel.
For my family, it began with a lot of chaos. We were trying to figure out how we would have everyone online at the same time. What would our schedules be? How would we manage our time? What fun things could we do as a family to make the best of our time? So much to think about and so much change.
We really did our best. We began cooking together and started a daily morning routine of meditation and exercise. We created new experiences as a family. One weekend I dyed everyone’s hair pink and red. We video-chatted with our family to show off the new colors. It was really fun and we created a wonderful family memory.
We planned other fun activities we could do together to pass the time. And while we are continuing to do our best, life has taken on a new look and tone. What seemed temporary is clearly going to continue for some time. We are committed to keeping not only ourselves safe and healthy but also remembering that it is our responsibility to make sure we do not contribute to making other people sick. When I look at my children I see that everyone, including them, has been changed by Covid-19. We all bare the difficulties and responsibilities that go with caring for our fellow humans.
So I’ll jump right into it and be honest, we are trying but some things are simply not as important as we once thought.
The schedules have broken down. We are all staying up later and sleeping later. The kids know their school schedules and routines. My husband and I do not have the mental or physical stamina to hover over them and make sure all their school work is finished and corrected. As much as we can, we have to learn to trust our children and leave them to do their work on their own. They have school, we have to put our faith in a new system. We are thankful that our children continue to be educated by dedicated teachers during this time.
It’s hard and it’s lonely. We miss our old routine and social life. Our kids desperately miss their school, sports teams, and friends. I find myself explaining the toll stress puts on a body. They sometimes feel so tired and they do not understand why. I have to explain they are stressed by the uncertainty of these days. They are having feelings of grief and insecurity. This is exhausting for them. My husband and I share our thoughts and feelings as well.
We feel it is important for our children to understand that they are not alone during this time. The whole world is experiencing this stress, but we aren’t seeing each other go through it.
So what do we do to get through each day? Well, the screen time limits are gone. When my children are forbidden from leaving the house and having fun with friends, we can not expect them to always entertain themselves. We do our best to eat healthily but recognize that sometimes we are too tired to cook a complete meal. We used to eat dinner together every night but now sometimes we eat in front of the TV. Let’s face it, we are spending a lot of time together.
Despite all of the things that have changed and forced us to rethink our lives, there are some silver linings…
As a family, we are spending more time figuring out what everyone likes to do together. My kids are learning how to clean and they seem to see the value in an orderly house. We focus on what we have, not what we want. We understand we have much to be thankful for during a time that is so difficult for so many people.
As I write this, I hope I am striking a chord with my fellow parents. I have realized this is no time to sweat the little things but recognize this is a time where many may be worried due to the unpredictable nature of COVID-19.
I hope one day we can look back and see the lessons we were able to teach our kids during this time such as how to embrace uncertainty/change, the value of quality family time, how to practice gratitude by focusing on what you have rather than thinking about what you want, how to maintain a sense of connection with friends and family regardless of distance, what it means to be resilient, and how to show empathy for those who are less fortunate than us or whose opinions differ from our own.
Circling back to my initial thought about what it means to live life to the fullest…
Living life to the fullest may mean different things depending on our environment. Right now, living life to the fullest may look like eliminating screentime rules, encouraging our children to express creativity whether that be through Minecraft or real crafts, cherishing time spent with loved ones, and reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned during this time.