Parenting During a Pandemic: You’re Doing Great

A response to parents who feel like they are falling short as they try to parent, teach, work, and survive

Photo by Halfpoint on Adobe Stock

Today I saw a Facebook post from a kick-ass mother I’ll call Angie, who lamented that since she’s still working full time, she can’t pull off the homeschooling success that she sees other moms posting on Facebook.

Angie is working full time in the health care industry. We should all be kissing her feet and feeding her grapes and wine. Her kid is home, and she’s scrambling for childcare and then trying to be a teacher after work.

There are lots of parents like Angie right now, and they are feeling like inadequate failures. I see words like guilt, insane, and incapable, and I hate that parents are feeling that way.

I posted a recent article with homeschooling tips because, as an educator and parent, I have the knowledge to offer. I’ve noticed lots of teachers doing the same and it’s amazing. But, let’s be clear, homeschool at our house also includes tears, sibling squabbles, and plenty of frustration. Actual academic work takes place in about 2–3 hours of the day, and the rest is recess, games, playing outside, and yes, screentime.

Parents, whether you’re working from home while throwing scraps of food to your kids and letting them overdose on screen time, working out of the house and scrambling for childcare, or suffering from job loss and economic panic, you are doing enough, you are enough.

Here are some tips for keeping the guilt at bay and rocking this new remote-working-economic-scrambling-part-time-teaching thing we’re all attempting.


The only expectations you need to meet are your own, so be sure to keep them low. The higher your expectations, the higher you’ll have to jump to reach them. Maybe the goal of a shower, three meals, and putting on sweatpants is enough for everyone in your home today.

Fit in schoolwork when you can, or take advantage of all of these education sites who made their content free and let your kids combine screen time and learning while you hide in the bathroom to eat ice cream and cry.

Ignore social media

Or, at least take it with a grain of salt. As an educator and parent, I’m on social media sharing tips to help people out who want ideas of what to do with their kids.

I’ll be waiting until my kids start fighting (it will probably be about 5 minutes), and I’ll be sure to snap a photo of that too, but I won’t post it to social media because of it’s potential to embarrass my kids as they age. They are people and deserve autonomy, as well. Remember, most of what you see posted is about 5% of what is happening.

Try to fit in some learning

Learning at home doesn’t have to look like school, and maybe it’s better if it doesn’t. American education is often devoid of creativity and innovation and lacking in physical activity. Make your home a place where your kids can be creative, a place where they can innovate to solve problems, and a place where they can move.

Today my daughter was leaping from one couch to another and got stuck behind an end table. I sipped my coffee and watched as she creatively designed an innovative solution to getting unstuck and continued jumping. That’s a lot of learning right there. Not all learning involves reading, writing and arithmetic.

Real-life skills

Your kids will learn skills during this isolation that they would never have had the opportunity to learn otherwise.

  • How to make their lunch because mom has to work.
  • What to do when they get bored (this is where a lot of creativity and innovation comes from).
  • How to sanitize doorknobs.
  • Why we need to wash the dishes before the food dries to them.
  • How to wash their own laundry.
  • What the word pandemic means.

Parents, you’ve been educating your children since they were born. You already know how to do this. Just love them, provide for them, and let the rest figure itself out.

Sure, your child may start the next school year a bit behind where standardized tests say they should be. Standardized tests don’t have self-isolation-because-of-a-pandemic built into their scoring system. In the long run, your children will love telling the story of how they got to hang out with you more and learn how to cook because the whole country shut down when they were nine.

Maria Chapman is a veteran elementary educator and parent of five. Subscribe to her newsletter for periodic updates.

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Writer | Coach | Educator | Social Change | Mental Health

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