Parenting in a Pandemic SOS – Lessons from a School Psychologist Mama

As a school psychologist, I thought I’d pretty much crush helping my kids with distance learning and balancing work too.

After all, I have 20 years of experience, a Ph.D., have written several books on parenting, and created an entire online course and community full of research on time management, productivity hacks, and work/life balance.

I was armed with all the research about creating structure, building out proactive strategies for coping, and having scripts at the ready for self-compassion. I even wrote about it here for Greater Good Science Center Magazine, in How to Make Homeschool Less Stressful on Everyone.

But then…Friday.

I had a report to finish, an important training on “The Science of Happiness for School Psychologist” I was presenting for a school district, 3 parent Zoom meetings, and one student meeting. And I have a 1st and 4th grader at home who need support with distance learning. And I have no home office, so I work out of my car in my garage. And it was 80 degrees by 8am.

No problem!

I have written schedules, have a sign on the garage door that reads, “Mama is Zooming! Ask your dad!” and I’ve primed and readied my family that I’m working pretty much all day and can’t help with the login for RazKids or Quaver, or Epic, or Prodigy, or SeeSaw, or Google Classroom, or the classroom Zoom, or the library Zoom, or Zingbat (that last one is made up, but you get the idea).

Things started out ok. I managed to console a crying parent over Zoom, gave a pep-talk to a high schooler to not throw in the distance learning towel (for today), and coordinated distance learning accommodations with a school on behalf of a kiddo with Dyslexia.

And I may have lost a pound too, sweating in my gar-office.

My own girls were happily and quietly working on their computers with their new headphones on (on Zingbat, I presume) at the breakfast bar. I’m amazed at how Zoom fluent my young kids are already…toggling between breakout rooms, muting and unmuting themselves appropriately, and pinning their teacher in gallery view. Also, finding ways to “pass notes” by holding up white board signs that say “Hey Madeline! Want a socially distanced play date?” Kids are awesome and always find a way to connect. 🙂

Then, we did a dance break together as a family on Go Noodle in which we jumped over a pickle. Because, adults need brain breaks too.

And about mid-day, I was ready to do my fancy virtual presentation for a school district. I warned the whole family, that this was recorded and a big deal so they had to stay out of the garage for one hour.

I do believe you know where this story is headed.

About 30 minutes into my presentation about how to infuse principles of positive psychology in the school day, I see my 6 year old come in the garage. She puts her hands on the passenger side window and I desperately try to pretend that this is not happening.

Maybe she’ll see I’m on Zoom and go ask her dad for what she needs?

Nope.

She circles the car like a land shark for a few minutes as I stealthily switch slides, talk, move my screen strategically to avoid recording all this, and surreptitiously text my husband to come get our daughter.

Then she opens the garage and leaves. And then sets off the freakin’ car alarm.

I am officially panicking.

Every perfectionistic muscle in my body is tensing up.

Where in the frickin’-frack is my husband to rescue me? Then I remember, he also had an appointment at the same time.

And here I have a choice.

I decide to practice what I was literally just preaching: Giving myself grace in a global pandemic by adding the phrase “…In a global pandemic” to any self-criticism.*

I take a deep breath. I say to all the school psychologists on Zoom, “Right now I’m totally distracted by my daughter, who has escaped and is wandering around. I have to pause this training and tend to her…in a global pandemic.”

I mute myself, ask what she needs (apparently she needed a Beanie Boo from the car RIGHT THEN???) and I usher her back inside.

Returning to my meeting, I thank everyone for their patience.

Inside, I’m DYING that I had to interrupt my fancy presentation to all the school psychologists.

But I take another deep breath and say, “This is what life is like for parents right now. It’s freakin’ hard. We are all doing our best…in a global pandemic.”

I’m holding back some tears as I continue my presentation….cumulative tears of 6 months of trying to toggle between work and my kids and attempting to hold it all together for myself, my clients, and my family every day.

And then the chat starts rolling in. Things like…

OMG this is the best presentation ever…so REAL.

I’m a parent too and THIS IS MY LIFE.

I can totally relate. My kid is banging on my door right now.

And I take an exhale and keep going.

Parents…it’s okay. I give you full permission to not be holding it together right now.

It’s okay if your work/life balance is a hot mess. Maybe that’s not the goal right now. Maybe the goal is presence.


Or maybe the goal is to give yourself permission to do the best you can every day and drop the expectations of what you can do under optimal circumstances. These are far from optimal circumstances.

My advice?

Relax your standards to a level appropriate for a global pandemic and give yourself the same grace you’d give a close friend.

And get support.

As a school psychologist working with families since COVID-19, and living it all first hand, I know how intense it has been for parents.

And I want parents to get some relief.

This is why I’m thrilled to announce a FREE resource for parents that I’ve created…

You see, about a month ago, I received a call from Commune, a global online wellness community asking if I would collaborate on a course for parents.

So. Much. YES.

Within a week, I was road-trippin’ to LA with the fam to record it. I knew parents (me included!) needed support for when we all returned to distance learning.

We need to support one another and find ways to get some peace of mind.

And the result?

My new course on Commune, Peace of Mind Parenting.

It’s full of proactive, effective and easy-to-learn parenting strategies and it’s totally FREE from Sept 14 to 18. This 5-day online course gives parents tools and techniques to stay calm while raising kids in this crazy, uncertain world.

Check out this 2-minute video to see what it’s all about:

Sign up here to get the course for free. It starts Sept 14th, 2020.

If you’re a parent who wants to join me in this journey, I’ll be there right alongside you!

We could all use support to get peace of mind and connection with our kids…yes, even school psychologists.

LEARN MORE HERE

*A zillion thanks to Nataly Kogan of happier.com for this GEM of a phrase. She’s a freakin’ genius.

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Comments on Parenting in a Pandemic SOS – Lessons from a School Psychologist Mama

  1. Debi Mayes says:

    I love this. I too became a much better school psychologist when I became a mom:)))))

    1. Rebecca says:

      Best training ever! 🙂

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