As schools from one end of the country to the other shut down, some of them already calling an end to any in-person schooling for the year, the “helpful” articles abound.

“Coronavirus: Schools Closed? Here’s How to Teach Kids at Home”

“How to Home School During Coronavirus”

“How To Turn Your Home Into School Without Losing Your Sanity”

Some school districts are sending laptops home with some kids, some are assigning homework, some are making kids log on to “school” at the regular time each day and are taking attendance.

Then there are the schools in impoverished areas where none of this is possible and nothing is happening. There are kids with no home access to Wi-Fi or a computer and those districts are having to just be finished with school for the year. There are kids who have parents that are critical service providers and may be being looked after by a teenaged sibling, making their ability to navigate 3rd grade online impossible. There are kids who really need assistance from a teacher and the algebra or science they are working on isn’t something their parent can help them with, so they struggle and fall behind.

For a lot of people, either in the former or latter category, all this adds is stress. Stress to a situation that is already untenable for so many.

There is a level of stress we are all carrying right now that isn’t normal.

If you aren’t worried for yourself, then more than likely there is someone in your immediate family you are scared for. It could be parents you are trying to shop for or lead through learning about online grocery ordering. Maybe you have lost your job. Or your spouse has. Maybe you are both still employed but have lost money, had your hours cut. Conversely, maybe you are working overtime and trying to find childcare. Maybe you were just at the limits of stress that you could take in your life before this started and now just getting through the day is all you can manage.

It’s ok to let it go.

It does not make you a terrible parent or a lazy person if you just opt out because it’s more than you are equipped for right now.

I know that this isn’t the popular opinion right now, but it is a fact that there are some parents out there that cannot make this happen. Shaming them into trying while pushing them to the breaking point is no good for anyone, especially their children.

Of course there always exceptions that have to be considered. Maybe your child has circumstances that require school to continue in some form and if you doing well with this, great. If you find it bringing order and structure to your day, I am happy for you and happy to hear that you are thriving under such a dramatic change in circumstances. But if you are not, don’t beat yourself up. Snuggle up with your people on the couch and read a book, any book will do. Eat some cookies, watch some TV and give yourself some breathing room. Children can sense your stress and you will be doing everyone a favor by letting go of whatever you can and reducing the tension in your home.

We are probably in this for a longer haul than anyone is admitting at this point and if we have learned anything from watching the teachers and school systems these last couple weeks, it’s that they can adapt and turn on a dime if they need to. They are problem solvers and no matter what happens, they already know kids will be returning next fall with gaps in their knowledge and most likely are already working on plans to fill those holes. Should we just dump this on them, excusing ourselves for any responsibility? No, but we can only do the best we can.

If your mental health is stretched to the limit or you are struggling to put food on the table, do not let anyone tell you that you are failing as a parent by not filling your child’s day with math worksheets and virtual PE classes.

Everyone’s life has been up-ended at this point and whatever reduces the stress the most for all of you is the ultimate goal. They can learn the names of all the state capitals next year.



Melissa Coble is a mom living in Phoenix, Arizona just trying to survive the teenage years with a lot of laughs, an occasional rant, and copious amounts of wine. You can find her counting the days until her nest is empty on her blog An Unfit Parent and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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