Why My Kids’ Mental Health Mandates Going Back To School During Covid

Last Updated on January 14, 2022 by Sarah Gallagher

I’ve been honored to write a guest post for a wonderful website called MindSpeaks. They reached out asking for a piece on mental health – I decided to take the current situation at hand: my kids’ mental health during covid. This post is where I talk about the pro’s and con’s of sending your child back to school.

Kids’ Mental Health During Covid Is The Highest Priority

Oh my goodness, it’s been an extraordinarily difficult two years, with no end in sight! I originally wrote this post in 2021, yet here I am again at this difficult crossroads: should my kids attend classes in person this year? There are pros and cons to each point, and yet no matter what each parent chooses what is best for their family, there’s still the condemnation that they’re not being the best parent they can be. There’s no right answer. Making choice to allow your child to attend school should not be a life or death decision! Everything we do, every decision we make is made on the information known at the time – which changes on a literal daily basis!

Knowing that this is an ever evolving crisis, it’s likely we’re all going to have to make this decision more than once this school year.

As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk in the living room, listening to my daughter’s kindergarten Zoom class beside me as my daughter piles blankets over our ever-patient cat, and my son is showing me his drawing instead of participating in his grade 5 virtual gym class.
 

Solo Parenting During Isolation Is Hard

Last night after dinner, my kids were trying to get me to watch them play a computer game, but all I wanted was twenty minutes to myself. Twenty glorious minutes before getting them ready for bed. That’s all I wanted. But it was a struggle to get it.
 
I find virtual schooling mentally exhausting, both for me and my kids. So I will be sending them back when the schools open up again on Monday. Funny enough, I wrote about this exact thing last year when we were going through exactly the same thing. Which is why I was inspired to update this post and share it again.

Who Are The Danger Squad?

Parents’ Mental Dance

If you’re also weighing your options, remember that your kids’ mental health is as, if not more, important than their physical health.  There’s a great post from MindSpeaks that breaks down the key points for why I decided to let me kids get back into the classroom as soon as they opened up again. Maybe it can help you in your decision making.

Here’s a snippet, “There are a lot of things a parent has to consider when contemplating whether their children will return to public education. Once again, it’s a mental dance between the lesser of two risks. Let’s break them down into separate lists……..”

Go read the entire article here.

It really is a fantastic piece that I highly recommend you read. Comment below with what you got from it!

two kids trying to have a good time while isolating
two kids trying to have a good time while isolating

Your Mental Health Matters Too

Listen, I know this pandemic is exhausting and it’s so hard to find resilience when there’s no end in sight. Which is why it’s so very important to check in with yourself and ensure that YOU are mentally healthy too. Especially if you’re a solo parent, and ever more so if you’re also grieving. Being a widowed, solo parent is unbelievably isolating during a pandemic-enforced lock-down.

In 2021, the schools were locked down so my kids were online learning at home. For weeks. Months. It was so hard for all of us. Warrior was in JK, and just trying to get her to attend the first half an hour was always a fight. She’d rather run around in circles and jump off the couch. Not be on a screen for hours.

Knight was in an even worse state. He was in Grade 4, when academia really ramps up. The bar for learning all of a sudden skyrockets, and there’s so much to cover there isn’t enough time in class to cover it all. Which meant that he had homework every night. So…being online all day, trying to understand the teacher’s requirements, with all the other kids asking “Ms. S? What are we doing again?” over and over…it was exhausting. He couldn’t keep up, which for an emotionally sensitive boy with ADD and anxiety was torture. I needed to take a leave from work in order to sit beside him and help him recover from crying panic attacks, and then try to get him to do his work. The extra homework just exaggerated the problem as it felt like school never ended!

Being Isolated With Kids Nearly Broke Me

Trying to keep my patience, and my own emotions under control was trying (to say the least). Plus, once school was done, and homework was somewhat tackled, I only had maybe half an hour before I had to start making dinner and then bedtime routines. My day was a never-ending stress test with no break from responsibilities, no break from the kids, no break from being in the same four rooms day in and day out. For months.

It wasn’t until restrictions lifted enough for my mother to come over and take them for the afternoon that I had my first real break. Doing the math, I realized that I had been doing this alone, isolated, for 100 days. As I walked outside, alone, and sat in a park with a book in hand, the first time I could do absolutely nothing in forever, it struck me how close to a nervous breakdown I was. Truly. I’m surprised (and grateful) that I didn’t snap.

So this time around (deja-vu anyone?) I’m absolutely going to get my kids back into the classroom next week when they open up again. It’s only been two weeks here in the winter of 2022, but we’re already starting to feel it, and I refuse to be in the same mental state that I was last year.

Oxygen mask on first, solo parents. Your mental health matters too.

kids and parent sticking out their tongues

2 Replies to “Why My Kids’ Mental Health Mandates Going Back To School During Covid”

  1. I really liked this post. I had such a tough time deciding on whether or not I should send my son back to school or keep him virtual. They started off virtual for the first few weeks and then we had to make a decision for the rest of the semester. It kind of felt like neither was a good choice. We ended up sending him back because we could tell his mental health was suffering. He is so much happier being back at school. We can see the changes in him. I still worry, don’t get me wrong, but I think as moms, we will always worry no matter what decision we make!

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