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Parenting has always been an essential job. Nothing has changed. It doesn’t take a global pandemic to remind us of that.

However, if these sequestering walls could speak, they’d reveal feelings of parental inadequacy that leads to frustration, anger, and tears. Thank you, COVID-19.

Sure, it would be easy to hide in the bathroom and avoid parental responsibilities. I mean, who’s kidding who? Our parents never had to deal with this. There’s no parenting handbook for survivors of global isolation—although watching reruns of zombie apocalypse movies could be quite helpful. (wink)

But instead of sitting back and watching our children binge-watch TikTok videos for six hours a day, why not use this time effectively? As opposed to parking ourselves in different parts of the house and ignoring each other during this crazy-stressful time, why not focus on opportunities to get to know each other better—that’s an idea worth exploring. How about dedicating one night a week to family game night or cooking favorite recipes. And eventually—once cities’ restrictions are lifted—spend time hiking, biking, walking, or anything that makes our hearts beat faster.

The concept of distance learning may be stressful and unfamiliar territory to many parents, especially those who’ve never been educators—but there is hope. Yes, 2020 has managed to jostle us out of our comfort zones and present a new sense of “normal.” More and more parents are finding they can handle anything—imagine that? Perhaps while waiting in line for a six-pack of toilet paper, they’ve been taking advantage of freebie superhero injections at the drive-thru vaccine clinic.

Once school is back in session—yup, it’s comin’—parents will be shaking their heads in disbelief, unsure of what the new norm will be. Homeschooling children may be a harsh realization, but the alternative may soon be equally alarming—like sending masked children to schools without the freedom to socialize or sit together at lunchtime. It’s a painful reality; but instead of fighting it, we just need to catch a breath and pray for a healing world.

Some of our forefathers were homeschooled. As children, they sat by candlelight in the presence of a warm fireplace while their moms read to them. Sure, they had to get up early and help with chores, like milking cows and collecting chicken eggs; but after all of that was behind them, they were probably excited to spend time together as a family soaking up knowledge. Why? Perhaps they were moved by listening to the sound of classical literature or poetic verses, but maybe it was more about time spent with their mothers; and if she was happy, they were happy too.

Using our smiling muscles will help parents and children to get through this pandemic. Our children are watching us, so we need to be examples of strength during times of uncertainty. If we’re constantly stressed out of our minds, then what message are we sending to our kiddos about dealing with life? As parents, if we need to stop asking ourselves, “Do I measure up? How can I possibly teach my child to write an essay with supporting sentences and a conclusion, if I can’t write myself?” Remember that we’ve been through many more challenging experiences than this.

Negative thoughts in equals negative thoughts out. Positive thoughts in equals positive thoughts out. Pandemic, schpamdemic. Let’s do this!

Gina Wileman is a published author (My Twisted Life In Middle School: Best Friends & Bullies) and the owner of EUREKA! Tutoring (EurekaTutoring-SMILES.com), where she offers in-studio and virtual tutoring sessions for students (grades K-12). She homeschooled her son for ten years (2003-2013) and was a networking group facilitator of hikes, field trips, classes, plays, and club events for homeschool families in southern California. Gina loves teaching and mentoring students, writing books and blogs, listening to personal-growth podcasts, furthering her spiritual development, and creating allergy-friendly recipes. Mostly, she cherishes time spent with her husband, son, and two shih-tzu pups.