Managing Home Life When There Is Nowhere Else to Go

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Who would have thought that we would be living in a time where families have no choice but to sit around the same table together all day long, day in and day out, completing work, school, and meals together...with no downtime? There is no question that we are all learning a lot about each other. We are learning how each of us works differently: some of us need silence while they work, while others like music playing. Most importantly, as a parent, I have been given the opportunity to see where my children struggle, and it has allowed me to find ways to provide them with the support that they need.

On top of helping my kids navigate their school struggles, without having their teachers around to help them, there are also family struggles. As my kids adjust to living with their step-siblings, conflicts are bound to arise. In the “real world,” they would never have this much time together. With all the programs they will one day be enrolled in again, they will be more like ships passing in the night. Here is how we are trying to handle it all.

Home at School

Before I owned my own business, I was a teacher — an elementary school teacher. While I may be educationally equipped to homeschool my children, I am not emotionally equipped to homeschool them. Needless to say, it has been a challenge for us all. As my children’s mom, I see so much of myself in my son. His struggles in school are similar to the struggles I had. Watching and trying to teach him is very difficult, both academically and emotionally. It’s hard to watch him as he struggles to understand certain concepts, and it’s frustrating as his “teacher” to not have the resources I need to get him through the struggles. There have been so many ups and downs. When I find an activity that he succeeds at, we celebrate together, and seeing him feel good about himself is amazing. With that said, when the downs come as we enter a new unit in math, it’s as if we are starting all over again. To support him, I made the decision to bring in outside reinforcements. I found him a one-on-one tutor online — a teacher who specializes in math, so that he can get the support he needs. As his mom, it is my job to ensure that he gets that support — even when we are in a state of emergency.

Home in a New Home

Every family, especially divorced families, have handled quarantine in their own way. Some have moved in with one partner’s parents to help one another, others have moved back in with their ex-partner so that their kids can be with both their parents. My current partner and I decided to cohabitate when the quarantine started, and that has brought its own challenges. Moving in together has meant that, as parents, we need to manage four kids and our kids need to manage having two new siblings. Like anything, there are positives and negatives, but there has been a lot to deal with mentally.

When the girls want to play together, we see jealousy in the boys, who were used to having their sisters all to themselves. When all four of them play together, it can be a challenge for everyone to listen to each others’ opinions, which can lead to a sibling war! There is lots to manage at all times of the day. As a family, we acknowledge everyone’s feelings, and have worked hard to create a space that works for everyone. That means small renovations, new furniture, and new decor here and there, so that everyone feels like they have a space to which they can go to collect their thoughts and work through their feelings. At the end of the day, the kids are able to recognize how lucky they are to have three siblings instead of one, especially in a time where siblings are the only playmates kids have.

My Home

While the kids are struggling with missing their friends, missing their programs, and missing school and camp, I, too, am missing the break from the kids that I used to have. As parents, we all are. It’s not natural for us to wear even more hats than we already do. I am looking forward to the end of school, so that I can put the “teacher” hat up on a hook for a while. It’s a challenge to be as productive work-wise — it’s almost impossible to find five minutes of alone time, and it’s overwhelming to find the time to do it all.

Mentally, it’s been a challenge. I have learned a lot about myself. I need to get outside, whether it be for a cup of coffee on the front porch or a walk, I need to be outside to stay sane. I have learned that it is okay to not be able to do it all, all the time. I have learned that I need time at the end of the day to connect with my partner, especially when I am with the kids for what feels like 24/7. I have had to find ways to give myself a break. Some days, that means living in a house that looks like chaos, other days it means doing no school work so that I can meet my own deadlines. Whatever it may be, I’ve had to give myself permission and cut myself some slack, as we are all living through unprecedented times and we can’t always do it all.

We are all doing our part to get through this time and we know that there will be many more ups and downs. I am making sure to give us all a little grace as we move forward in the coming months. You should, too.

Tags: Education, Navigating the Pandemic, Overcoming Adversity, Siblings

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Written By

Jenna Greenspoon

Jenna is a mom to 4. She is passionate about writing and making life a bit easier for moms everywhere by sharing her tips and tricks! See Full Bio

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