Today is About Survival

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Chalkboard with suggestions to keep things in perspective and listed out in the article

Son (6): “When is the coronavirus going to end so Kipton can come over?”
Husband: “Never. Coronavirus will never be over.” 

Don’t worry, husband got a kick for that one, but isn’t this how a lot of us (dare I say all of us) are feeling right now? 

“Write blog article” has been on my to-do list for a while. I know it would be a fantastic way to get resources out to employees, especially those with children starting the school year. But the truth is, not even the most helpful resources can alleviate the emotional weight that comes along with being the parent of a school-aged child (or children!) during a global pandemic. Since virtual school started last week for the ICCSD (Iowa City Community School District), I saw social media posts ranging from photos of Pinterest-worthy home classroom set-ups, to pleas to all people to wear masks so their kids can go back to school. At work, I heard the following kickers: 

  • Can I go first on the agenda? I have to hop on a 4th grade math class in 20.
  • Can’t make the meeting today. Internet can only support three ZOOM meetings at a time, and I came in fourth. 
  • I fold. 

Does anyone else feel like we are living in the bizarro universe episode of Seinfeld? You know, a world where everything is the exact opposite – up is down, first is last, and logical is illogical. As bizarre as it is, it’s here, and we ARE going to make it through this stronger and more resilient that we ever thought possible. What we need now is grace in the current moments. The moments we can’t plan for, train for, or ignore. Last month, after the derecho, I hung a chalkboard in my basement office and wrote the following reminder.

“Today is about survival. Things can change in an instant.”  

  • Go slow
  • Don’t add new (to-dos, projects) 
  • Breathe 
  • Rest 
  • Be Grateful 
  • Practice Self-Care & Compassion 
  • Let go of the “shoulds” (you know, “I SHOULD clean my house,” “I SHOULD make my kids turn the tv off,” “I SHOULD cleanup my inbox”)

The list is the easy part, but the how…not as easy. Here is where I’ll share some great resources available to help support parents & caregivers during this time:

  • Child Care Resources: This does not have to mean sending your child to a full-time child-care center or hiring a nanny. Would it be helpful to have someone come in a couple of hours a day or once a week to help keep the kids occupied or on their Zoom calls so you can focus on one thing or *gasp* breathe? The “Back-up or occasional child care resources” section of this page links to the Private Home Postings page through the Pomerantz Career Center. Through the various organizations listed, you can find someone to aid as you would find most meaningful during this time. 

  • COVID-19 Leave Scenarios: Various paid leave options are available to support employees affected by school or child-care closures related to COVID-19. Explore the options available and talk to your supervisor or HR Rep to see if one of these options can supply the support you are looking for. 

  • Mental Health Resources: The webpage Mental Health at Iowa reads, Coping in the time of COVID-19 is an uncharted, life-changing task for everyone whether you are on-campus or not. Our lives have changed significantly because of the coronavirus pandemic. This is an unprecedented time and can feel, at times, like we have minimal control. And, as a result it can make caring for our own mental health and the mental health of those around us challenging. There are some fantastic resources offered throughout the university for employees to support their mental health during this time.

To all the parents and caregivers-remind yourself that each day is about survival. You don’t need to be the best parent, spouse, child, educator, employee, or friend. You need to breathe, practice self-compassion, and believe in your heart that you are not alone, and this will not be your reality forever. Your children will catch up academically and will always remember this strange time in their childhood where things were messy, but you were all messy together.

Diana Kremzar, Director of Family Services and full-time mother of two
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