This one's for the parents...

Hi Everyone,

Over these last couple of months, I have spoken with a lot of parents.  Many more than I usually do, which has actually been an real upside for me during this time.  While working from home, I have also been helping my own kids (grade 3 and grade 5) with their schoolwork.  When I listened to parents talk about how their kids were doing, how they themselves were doing, I often found myself nodding along in agreement.  This has not been easy on both parents and kids!  I have had to remind myself to take my own advice on many occasions.  My heart is with so many of you who have had extra challenges added to your circumstances during this already difficult time.  All of you parents have been heavy on my heart and I wanted to share some encouragement today as we head into the summer months.

To the Parents and Care-Givers,

Thank you for all you have done these last weeks.  While yes, we as school teachers and staff were suddenly thrust into doing our jobs in an entirely new were you.  This is not at all what you signed up for and there wasn't a whole lot of choice, warning or preparation involved. 

And not only have you been looking out for their learning on top of all the usual parenting responsibilities, you have also been taking care of their mental well-being during a very difficult time.  Even the most adaptable of kids have struggled in one way or another. Your kids' emotions have been all over the map. Kids have had trouble falling asleep.  Kids have been worried, bored, angry and sad. 

I have admired you.  Many times I'd get off the phone having gained something I can take to use with my own family.  You have been creative and determined to find ways to help your kids feel more regulated and happy.  Despite your own frustrations (and waning patience), you have continued to persevere.

I am guessing there have been moments when you compared yourselves to other parents who appeared to be doing it better than you, moments when your own emotions got the best of you, moments you felt all your efforts were just not working.   But I also believe your kids have had moments of extra connection with you, which I know they cherish deeply.   Our kids are indirectly learning important skills for resilience that they will carry through their lives.  You have shown them they can handle difficult things and tolerate uncomfortable feelings.  You have helped them develop their creativity in finding new ways to pass their time.  You have helped them solve problems with handling new academic concepts, and adapting to new ways of using technology.  Maybe you have also learned a thing or two from them in this department!  I know I have.  You have helped them learn to communicate in new ways with their grandparents, relatives, and friends. 

While we are all eager to resume some sense of "normal" once again, I do encourage you to take some time to reflect and possibly write down some memories from these past weeks.  Focus on all you HAVE done, rather than what you wish had been done better.  Focus on the new things you've learned about your kids. Focus on what you've learned about yourself.  If you can, focus on a good memory or two you will take from this time.

Thank you for all you have done, and are doing, to help your kids and to work with us as schools.  We have missed your kids terribly and look forward to when we can once again gather in our school communities. 

I think I might miss these two office-mates of mine!