January 2021 from Jessica
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I’m Jessica and I am the Clinical and Education Programs Director at EVOLVE Family Services. I’m a mom of two girls, ages five and a half and three and a half. My husband’s name is John and he’s a pretty great guy and really good dad and partner. Our girls are very independent, sassy but kind, strong-willed, and have their own unique personalities. Our parenting styles seem to be a mashup of being extremely patient, involved, and hands-on while allowing for a lot of independence, being very open and having a lot of conversations with no topics being “off the table”, trying not to stifle our girls’ personalities and temperaments, and trying to raise caring human beings. By no means are we doing everything right. Our girls push our buttons a lot, which makes it difficult to be patient. Parenting is exhausting most days. I wanted to start writing a regular blog for EVOLVE to help normalize that. Not to mention, parenting during this pandemic is next level parenting.
My five-year-old started kindergarten this school year. We chose the hybrid learning model for the start of the school year, which was a huge adjustment. I don’t know about you, but there were many times before the school year started where I just broke down and cried; tears of anxiety and sadness for my daughter and all the children trying to navigate the school year during this pandemic. All the changes, so many things out of our control, the fear, the unknowns, grieving experiences that the children would not have. Thinking about little Kindergarteners having to stay six feet away from their peers, eat lunch basically alone, and wear masks the entire day, I just lost it. We made the choice that we thought was best for our family’s situation, also knowing that the kids probably wouldn’t be at school for a long period of time, anticipating rising COVID cases.
We quickly adjusted our schedules, adapted, and made it work most of the time. We have our girls at a small in-home daycare so our youngest was still there during the week and then my five-year-old was there one day a week, home with me two days a week for the distance learning days, then at school two days a week. Early on I realized that I needed to adjust my work schedule even more to allow more time to help my child with her schoolwork, and also spend some quality time with her. Luckily, my work schedule can be pretty flexible, and everyone is very understanding, and I was able to make these changes. Imagine trying to assist a five-year-old with her distance learning when she believes that she already knows everything…. Or maybe this was your experience too. Sometimes I would sass right back and tell her that I can just take her to Miss Staci’s (our daycare lady) right now and that she needs to listen to me because her teacher said so. And sometimes I would take a deep breath and refocus my energy and remember that we’re all having a hard time right now. Sometimes we both just needed a break to do something fun, then come back to the schoolwork. After more experience with distance learning now, I usually try the last two strategies. We have had some good times during this experience, which helps lighten the mood. One day while helping my daughter, I was praising her for the improvement I noticed from just the previous week. She responded with, “You know, I don’t think I should be in Kindergarten anymore. I should be in Third grade.” 😊
Then, starting in mid-November, we had to go to full distance learning and adjust our schedules even more. Now, starting in mid-January, the hybrid learning model will no longer be an option and K-2nd grade will be in school full-time. I’ll write more about that in my next blog.
I deal with some guilt though right now, with not being able to spend as much time with my three-year-old. She is already a Daddy’s girl so I really cherish the one-on-one time I do have with her. Many times, it will just come as a spur of the moment thing and she’ll ask me to read to her or do an activity with her. During those times I try to drop everything I’m doing so I can focus on her. This has been working and I’ve had to be more mindful of moments when she’s more accepting of the quality time. Everything needs to be on her terms at this age. Then, I do have to work during the evenings and weekends to get stuff done and make up for the times that I block out for when my oldest is home with me. It’s a juggle and a struggle, which we’re all experiencing to some degree.
Thanks for reading and hanging out. I am looking forward to sharing more with you all.
— Jessica Boner
EVOLVE Family Services, Clinical and Education Programs Director