Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW-QS
Surviving Virtual School During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Tips to help you survive virtual school at home.
Today is the first day of virtual school for many students and caregivers and for some this concept is mind blowing. Doing school in the midst of a pandemic seems doable and impossible all in the same breath. And for front line workers figuring out how to navigate the in’s and out’s regarding virtual school in addition to navigating the tremendous amount of stress, anxiety and overwhelm that comes with the duties of their job can be the recipe for a melt down.
The clients I have a privilege of working with that are front line workers ask, “How am I supposed to figure out how to virtually do this teaching thing when my emotions feel in such disarray? All I feel is numb in the moment and I’m struggling to catch my own breath.” They report continuously getting emails and calls regarding starting school and then stress about how to have the child/children share a computer and get on the screen when they’re supposed to at their designated time while the other kids are doing school and again I’m doing this in the midst of my own mental health crisis.
I hear you and I can see you. For someone that’s been doing homeschooling for the past 11 years I have experience when it comes to teaching kids at home and that in and of itself is a difficult process, add onto that the chaos of what’s happening in our world today which has turned everything upside down. Catch your breath let’s do a virtual school pep talk.
Tips to help survive virtual school at home:
Tip 1: Recognize, accept and work through the fact that this is new and with new stuff it can bring about feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and frustration. All totally normal reactions!
Tip 2: Create a new normal.
Family Meeting: Let’s first start with a family meeting discussing the reality of the situation, expectations, limitations. This time will also serve for you guys to discuss any concerns, fears or frustrations in order to problem solve them effectively prior to starting this new normal.
Create a routine: Within this new normal we’re gonna need to create a new routine. With families sharing computers, we need to discuss the layout regarding who needs to be on the computer based on the demands of each child's assignments in order to orchestrate to the best of our ability how the computer and morning meetings and virtual appointments with teachers are going to be navigated.
Daily meditation/prayer & journaling: Next you’re going to need a daily pep talk for yourself as the caregiver, where you acknowledge the newness and changes of everything and show yourself some self-love. Every morning you’re gonna have to wake up and love on yourself, telling yourself that we’re gonna get through this and giving yourself a dose of compassion and understanding. Your brain and heart have to understand that this is new and this change is gift wrapped in chaos, so you have to give yourself mercy and grace as you navigate this new normal. Keep in mind that it takes 30 days to build a habit.
Daily Gratitude Exercises: Develop the habit of gratitude exercises. My boys and I complete this task daily even before the crisis, in order to take advantage of all the emotional and mental benefits that come from practicing the habit of journaling in a gratitude journal. Gratitude exercises really help transition the mind and take it out of a state of negativity. It's actually like a chemical reaction of sorts that happens in the chemistry of our brain. It helps you to get grounded in the moment as opposed to swallowed up in it all.
Practice Self-Care: This is where you need to create not only an individual self care routine but one for your children and family. It’s a time where you can reset and recharge. Self-care techniques can include: going for walk, green time, taking a long warm bath, talking with your counselor, unplugging from electronics, stretching/yoga, trying something new, practicing mediation, dancing, writing in your journal, being still, unstructured time, trying a new recipe, eating healthy, and getting rest. There are various ways that you could love on yourself during this time and it’s not being selfish! You cannot pour from an empty cup!
Feeling like you breathing a little easier with these tips? That’s my desire!
You got this!
You’ll make it through. It’s not gonna be perfect and that’s totally okay. That's actually one of the bigger elements that you have to walk through. You are a front line person there is a lot going on and this whole schooling at home isn’t just a quick one, two, three I got this. Being a homeschooling mom myself it has taken me years, and I don’t say that word years lightly, to get to the systems that we have in place, the rhythm and flow and the ease of it. But again this is something that has taken me years and for a good portion of the beginning part of it, it was my only job so there was a lot of time, energy, research, trial and error that went into getting where we are toay. You’re not going to achieve any level of that within this crisis nor are you expected to, it really is just doing the best you can within the circumstances. We are not aiming for perfection. Realistic expectations need to be created in order to survive this.
Yvette E. McDonald is the owner and counselor at Traveling Light Counseling, a practice for individuals, couples and families helping them achieve a new normal within all the chaos that threatens their sanity. If you're in the Saint Lucie or Martin County Area and life isn't quite what you expected it to be at this point in your journey, please give me a call at 772-361-8448 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation.