Balancing a career and parenting will be a challenge this fall

August 4, 2020

More questions than answers as the fall school season returns, but venting is not productive so it’s time to make an action plan.

Dear Readers:

I cannot imagine how hard these times are for those who have school-aged children. This must be incredibly stressful. The issue of the pandemic and opening schools is so complex. I am so glad that I do not have to make these kinds of tough, complicated decisions. Keep in mind that whether you are the decision-maker, parent, or teacher, this is hard for everyone.

I am writing this article making a concerted efforted to not be political and to not take sides as to what is the right thing to do. Each school district is unique and has different issues to contend with. But we are all dealing with it one way or another. This will affect your ability to do your job in the dental world, because your patients and your co-workers are all struggling with this.

Here is the big picture. We do not know what is going to happen next. You have teachers and parents fearful that opening the schools will unleash more illness and death as children pick up the virus and spread it. My daughter is a teacher. She feels very strongly about the challenge she is facing in the classroom. Her school is going to have one week in the classroom and then 2 weeks at home virtual.

There are problems with kids not being able to sit still long enough. They tend to be multitasking and watching Tik Tok or Facebook when they should be paying attention. When in the school, my daughter will be recorded as the students in her class will not be allowed to switch classes. That means that her students will be watching a recording of the lesson by their English teacher but will not be able to ask questions. Instead, they can ask my daughter, the math teacher, their questions. This is going to be a difficult year for learning, but they are trying to figure this out.

Older teachers are fearful for their own health. They may have underlying conditions such as diabetes which puts them more at risk. Teaching in a mask in an unairconditioned room will be grueling in the hot months. They are afraid that they may bring the virus home to family that they are caregiving for. These are serious concerns that can be life and death.

But the other side is that most parents cannot work if they have the kids at home. The kids are on the bandwidth either with Zoom school calls, streaming videos, gaming, etc.… Let us hope we do not have any power outages, because that would be a true disaster. I know parents who are flipping their schedules so that one can work while the other helps the kids with schoolwork or entertains them since camp is not happening this summer.

My daughter pointed out that school is not daycare. Yes, parents need to get back to work, but you should not look to the school to watch the kids so that people can work. But face it…childcare is going to be an overwhelming problem this year. If your 2nd grader goes to school for one week and then is home the next two weeks, how are you going to see patients in the office?

Not having answers, I do have some predictions. As the numbers go up, we will eventually have stay-at-home orders again. This is frightening. But a good possibility. Schools may shut down if the numbers continue to grow.

As much as this sounds like doom and gloom, you need to look at this issue. There is the opportunity for creativity. Teachers will have to come up with new ways to educate kids. You as a parent will also have to be creative. In some ways, we are reverting to days where we gardened, read, sat outside, shot baskets, went on walks, etc…. People are cooking more. Are you teaching your kids measurements as you bake cookies? If not, why not?

What about developing a babysitting co-op with your co-workers who live near you. It means practicing CDC guidelines and trusting these families to stay safe. But think about it. Swapping babysitting to manage your job or job sharing is probably coming.

You must make a choice. Either you live in fear or you start taking some control over your life. What I am proposing is that you start planning. Get some friends/colleagues together on Zoom and have a brainstorming session on what you are going to do. Venting is not productive, so make an action plan.

It is heartbreaking that you worry whether schools will safe this fall. But be a person of action. I challenge you to get started. You can do this. You will need others to help figure this out. You are not alone. We are in this together.

Please email me at diana2@discussdirectives.com and let me know what creative solutions you have come up with as we move forward.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Sincerely,

Lisa Newburger, LISW-S

Parent/mother/spouse/daughter