If COVID Distance Learning is Stressing You Out, Get This One Thing Right and Your Kids Will Be OK

stressing you out

Moms and dads: How’s this whole Corona homeschooling thing going for you? Is it stressing you out yet? Lately what I keep hearing from parents is this: “I. Am. So. Done!” Not in my wheelhouse, all this distance learning. The pressure can feel like a bridge too far, an expectation too big, when so much is has gotten harder, not easier.

They call it homeschool. But it’s not. Homeschooling parents often don’t even stay home – they are exploring at museums, zoos, hiking here, biking there. But holed up in your home with Zoom after Zoom? It’s not homeschool – it’s screen school. And as parents, we are feeling the pressure, and overwhelm.

So how’s a parent supposed to help their child cope with this distance learning thing?

Give yourself permission to just. do. your actual best. Not some pie-in-the-sky best. Your true best. The type of “best” you know in your gut is what you’re comfortable with.

How Can I Know I’m Doing My Best? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself if Distance Learning is Stressing You Out

As parents, we are constantly – consciously and subconsciously – wondering if we are doing our best. Here are three questions to specifically help us assess our handling distance learning during COVID:

> How can I keep my family together?

> How can I help my children best balance schoolwork and play?

> How can I keep my own sanity intact?

Because no amount of schooling is worth sacrificing any of the above.

The goal is to arrive at a place you’re comfortable with, in good physical and emotional health.

The goal is not GTD (getting things done).

The goal is not perfection.

Because if we make the mistake of thinking those are the goals, the result is adding anxiety to our existing COVID-19 anxiety, and we risk the emotional and physical health of our families.

Keeping Our Families Intact

Feeling stressed out is part of the drill these days, and our kids are watching how we are handling stress, and need us to help them handle their stress too.  Believe it or not, the most helpful thing we can teach our children in facing a pandemic, is that they are loved and we can handle it – not necessarily what’s included in their distance learning packet. So how do we teach that when we are at our breaking points sometimes too?

  1. Let your kids know they’re loved and cared for. This is #1, eclipsing any fear of kids getting behind in their school assignments. Say it, show it, live it. With compassion, listening, and attention, we show our children they matter, we are there for them, and they are not alone no matter what. Hug your kids, laugh with your kids, look them in the eye and tell them they matter. Even if you don’t think you need to, take the risk and tell them. They need to hear it. Seriously, nothing is more important for their emotional health and resilience than this.
  2.  Talk honestly about emotions. Ask your kids how they feel about things these days, their home lessons, not seeing friends, mostly staying in. Encouraging them to speak about their experience shows them you care about their inner souls, and paves the way for them to value and cope with their emotions now, and into their future. In the world of psychology, this is called “name it, tame it:” If you name the feeling, you  can tame the feeling. As kids practice talking about their feelings, they lay down coping skills they can draw on the rest of their lives.

The Result

When we give ourselves a break, we give ourselves permission to do what feels best for our families. When we allow ourselves to model love and compassion, we actually counteract anxiety. We stave off depression. We feel calmer, less stressed out, and happier.

As the COVID-19 lockdowns, semi-lockdowns, and “exit plans” unfold, we will still not really don’t know what to expect. Not for us, and not for our kids. And this at can leave us feeling down, and unsure of things.

Next time you notice distance learning stressing you out, consider what’s really important for your family, and bravely take back control. This will help protect you and your family from feelings of hopelessness that can creep in around the edges when chronic stressors start to feel overwhelming. By following our hearts about what our children really need, we empower ourselves to take control, and do what matters most: keep our family safe, heathy, and strong. Not much is more important than that in these Corona times.

My next blog will explore more coping strategies during Corona times – stay tuned.

Looking for more help with anxiety surrounding the outbreak? Take this quick quiz to find out how anxiety is affecting you, or learn more about my book Hack Your Anxiety and get instant resources to help you manage the fear and anxiety going around the world today. 

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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