Since COVID-19 has started, there has been a drastic change in the education system–teachers have had to alter the ways they instruct their classes, not to mention some teachers have had to raise their children while teaching at the same time. The life of a teacher and a parent can be especially hectic right now between having to adjust to a new teaching style and explaining to your children what is going on in the world. There is no handbook on how to be a perfect teacher nor a perfect parent; let alone be both at the same time during a pandemic.
There are about 240 teachers that work at DGS, some of which are parents. With such a large number of teachers, everyone is left to question, “how do they do it?” Kristyn Campos, social studies teacher and mother of two, explains what a day in her life looks like.
“A typical day is chaotic. I get up and get the kids ready for their day [preparing] clothes, breakfast and packing bags, and then say goodbye to them. My husband takes one child to school and my mom helps us by picking up my kindergartener. I log on to get ready to teach as they are finishing up breakfast and getting ready to leave,” Campos said.
She continues, stating, “After school I then have to go pick up both of my children. We hang out and play until dinner and then we begin bedtime. When my kids go to bed, I go back to work… Additionally, I work on graduate school work at night.”
Campos explains her struggles when it comes to parenting during this time.
“[I struggle with] giving my kids enough of my attention; I work all of the time. I have to make myself put my computer and phone away [from checking emails] when I pick them up until they go to bed,” Campos said.
Another complication lies with the “turn on and off” factor when it comes to being a parent. Transitioning from one’s teacher role to their parent role can exhaust a person. Someone else who deals with this unique situation is PE teacher Nathan Terry, a father of three.
“I am both [roles] all of the time. Most of that is because I feel, especially this year, that there is always something that needs to be planned or tweaked. Steady patterns and lessons don’t exist right now so I am constantly planning things for the first time,” Terry said.
Terry attests that making an effort to spend quality time with his family is of paramount importance.
“There are definitely some great times in the day when I just get a chance to goof around with the girls and play. Those times are worth needing to stay up a little later to get caught up,” Terry said.
From a parent perspective, adults are left wishing there was a guide to how to parent during a pandemic. Now having to teach children about what is going on in the world is a new adjustment. English and acting teacher Nathanial Haywood, a father of three, reflects on how he chooses to talk to his children about this pandemic.
“[I tell them that] the virus is ongoing in society and that we have to do our part to remain safe and keep our friends and neighbors safe. Wearing masks, maintaining distance and not gathering in groups is difficult but it is necessary to get rid of the virus and it shows that we care about others and not just ourselves,” Haywood said.
Teachers play a large role in students’ lives and are expected to have everything figured out. Currently teachers may not have enough time to think about how to best support themselves before they can support their students or children.
It is often easy for teachers to tell others how important self care is yet hard for them to take care of themselves. They are taught to center their energy on others and can lose themselves in the mix of this. Haywood reveals how he schedules time for himself.
“Mostly, I don’t. I have a weekly gathering of friends on Zoom on Thursday nights that I try to make it to as much as possible, but otherwise there’s not much time,” Haywood said.
As said by the CDC, “To continue being a good caregiver, you need to take care of yourself. One way you can do that is to make sure you have consistent breaks from your caregiving responsibilities. This is called respite. Short breaks can be a key part of maintaining your own health.”
Not making time for yourself can start to have an impact on your body, as said by Psychology Today.
“Neglecting personal care can cause increases in anxiety, distractibility, anger and fatigue. You may also experience decreases in sleep, relationship satisfaction, self-esteem, empathy and compassion.”
It is important to be aware of the everyday stressors your teacher may go through. Understanding the constant push and pull lifestyle of a caregiver can help to assist them. Everyone is experiencing hardship during this time and these unique stories are some of many to understand.
Teachers, there are many ways to practice self care during this pandemic. Visit the following websites for more information:
“Why Teacher Self-Care Matters and How to Practice Self-Care in Your School”
“Practicing Self-Care During the Coronavirus: 5 Tips for Teachers”
“Prioritizing Self-Care While Working From Home”