Lessons Learned: When Parents Become Teachers by Beth Bills

Remember that day the parent became the teacher? Who
knew that when we went on Spring Break that our
kids wouldn’t return to traditional schooling for the
remainder of the year? The only word I can think of to describe
it really is BIZARRE.

I’m mom to two girls. One is a freshman in high school and the
other a sixth grader. For me, the distance learning itself hasn’t been
all that challenging. Simply put, they are old enough to know
that the work has to be completed. Let’s be honest, they know
more than me about those subjects at this point. And truly, our
school district is the real MVP here. They turned our semester
from the norm to distance learning in just a few days. It was truly
remarkable. They’ve provided everything they possibly can to
our students within the rules of the pandemic. They met often
and with intention each week to keep things moving along as
smoothly as possible. They deserve a big huge hug…when that’s
acceptable of course.

As parents, we are expected to help our kids navigate life.
But what about when we are thrown a curve ball that we just
don’t know how to catch? How many of us have worked from
home (or outside of the home if you were deemed essential),
played teacher, cooked or stocked the fridge for three meals
a day, cleaned up said three meals, exercised daily to stay
sane, kept everyone from killing each other in the middle of
a pandemic where we aren’t supposed to leave our house and
played that on repeat for months? That’s right, NO ONE!
Mom and dad, we’ve got to cut ourselves some slack. We
have worked hard to navigate all the unknowns and we’ve
worked hard to look at it one day at a time. This is not
normal at all. It’s tough when there’s really no one who has
experienced such extreme circumstances in this lifetime. It’s
weird, to say the least, but I just keep thinking there are
lessons to be learned here if we lean into it.

As the new “teacher” in our home, my first reaction to distance
learning was to get a schedule and hands-on activities and PE
each day and a lunch time and a rest time and blah, blah, blah.
I quickly realized that I needed to CHILL OUT! School at
home doesn’t need to be an exact replica of what school looks
like under normal circumstances. It took me getting frustrated
and listening to some of my favorite “home school moms” to
understand that it’s a different, beautiful beast. So, I took a chill
pill and asked my girls what they felt like school should look
like. It was so freeing to have them take ownership. We set a few
guidelines (we weren’t going to sleep all day and stay up all night)
and made some family rules and away we went.

When we felt frustrated, we stopped what we were doing and
went for a walk, played Just Dance or went for a drive. We have
taken some time to learn some “old school” life skills like how
to write a letter and then mail it. We took the time to do things
together and actually got to know each other on a deeper level.
We asked each other questions like, “What is your most favorite
meal that we eat at home? What’s your least favorite?” We’ve
learned how to look at the bigger picture and realized, that as a
family, we truly are “all in this together!”

One thing we did as a family was to look at it from all the angles.
We are a family that lives a pretty busy lifestyle. We have one
child in multiple sports and one child in dance and on the dance
team. Our spring was looking rather FULL. As we headed into
Spring Break, we knew the weeks to follow were going to be
fast and furious. There were only two Saturdays on the calendar
through the end of May that we didn’t have something planned.
I kid you not. I can say with confidence that a lot of families live
like this. Most of the time we are having a blast at one sport or the
other or at a dance competition or recital, but when everything
came to a screeching halt in March and we came up for the first
breath of air, it felt as though we may have been living in a world
where our priorities may have been a bit off.

When I say that, I’m not in any way saying we will tell our kids
they can’t be involved in things, but it made us look long and
hard at how we position our family with the choices we make.
I hesitate to say that I’m looking forward to things getting back
to “normal.” Some of the things we may need to say no to have
very little to do with our kids. I’m a firm believer in seasons, and
we don’t have very many more seasons at home with our kids.
Maybe, just maybe, I’m the one that needs to look inward and
figure out, as the “coordinator of chaos” in our home, what our
priorities need to be in order to keep a slower pace. We loved
our intentional family time and I want to always remember this
time and how to make our way back even if things do go back
to “normal.”

I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to all the
teachers in East Texas who have worked tirelessly with our kids
to make them successful during this time. Believe me when I say,
you truly are the heroes and we are forever grateful for you and
what you do. We love you!