A lot of us have to make some tough choices about what to do about our children’s care right now
Let’s go through the factors parents should be considering when making a decision about the possibilities of sending your children back into care, or beginning homeschool or virtual school, or whatever your options are. I’m not going to tell you what to do because that’s not the role of a coach. I’m here to support you through considering your own options and make a decision you feel at the very least at peace with.
Consider the following factors:
– How prevalent is the virus in your area right now? What’s the risk of transmission?
– Viability. Viability covers finances but it also covers logistics.
– Health and safety. What measures are being put in place, if any?
– Mental health. Which of the many options is going to keep us sane? Which options are developmentally appropriate?
How prevalent is the virus in your area right now?
You’re going to want to look at active cases published by your public health authority. How many active cases and how many are resolved?
Assume those numbers are likely a bit higher than what the data shows, to account for cases that are not reported. Why is this important? This gives you a good idea of how common the virus is in your area. The more dense your population, the higher your incidents are going to be. This also gives you a bit of a bead on how easy it would be to be exposed to said virus.
Grab the scripts for crazy-making behaviour and know exactly what to say next time your toddler, preschooler, or kindergartener isn't listening.
Look at the viability of your options.
“How could we make this work?” Start by looking at your finances, the time you have available in the day, schedules, work flexibility, etc. And consider these for everyone you have available on your “team”. Those of you with kiddos with special needs will be familiar with having a team, but those who don’t, likely aren’t.
The people who are on your team are people who play a supporting role for you and your family. My husband and I have my parents on our team. Both of my parents are retired and they have offered to do some teaching for us. My sister-in-law is a teacher; she’s able to provide support in the form of guiding me on what subjects I need to teach my first grader. She can suggest resources for my kindergartener, as a logistical support. Our babysitter is also part of our team, as a more physical support to come over and care for my kids.
Who makes up your team is going to be very unique. Write down who is on your team – and what kind of support they can give you.
Consider your finances.
How does this option create or deplete finances? Can you afford it?
Now look at logistics – can you make this work with the hours you have in your day? Who is going to pick up and drop off the kids? Do you have the flexibility in your work to do these things at these times? Time is a HUGE factor and I think many people have come to realize that it’s a very precious commodity. How much time is this going to take and do I have that time available? How can I make that time available?
Health and Safety Procedures/Precautions
What precautions are being put in place at your child’s daycare and school, or even at your workplace? And are you comfortable with that given the prevalence you’ve identified? If not, is there a way you can take personal precautions, or does it completely eliminate this option because it’s completely untenable? These options are tough to identify and have the potential to ruin an otherwise really viable option, but it’s also one of the few things we have the most control over. And if you don’t know the answer to this, start asking questions!
Make mental health a priority.
Can you manage this option without feeling like you’re walking a tightrope? How long do you estimate that you can sustain this option comfortably? What precautions could you put in place to make this option more sustainable? What support from your team would you need to make this option sustainable? Can they provide that? What would be the backup option if this preferred option were no longer viable due to strain?
And for our kids – which options are developmentally appropriate? What measures are reasonable? How will the staff be handling it? Our children’s mental health is important too and we need to consider if for instance: our daycare is suggesting each child stay in a 6×6 box all day – what will the effect of that be? Or if you have an infant – what will spending 10 hours a day with adults who have half their faces covered could do for their development? I’m not going to get into my specific concerns about what these care situations are going to do for children’s development, but it’s worth thinking about.
If you have specific scenarios you’re weighing, consider taking it to the Posse to talk it out.
There’s no right way to do this, but I really encourage you to actually write down what you’re thinking. Often we can’t see viable options until we have it down in black and white in front of us. It also makes it a bit easier to collaborate with our spouses or co-parents.
One of my big open questions for homeschooling was: who will teach Logan math? I’m not good at math. Numbers make no sense to me beyond basic addition and subtraction. So if we choose to keep our boys home and homeschool them, I can’t be the person in charge of teaching math. My Dad has offered to teach math, which is great – but we only see them a few times a month. So under viability: I had that my Dad can teach math but will he do it over Zoom? Will we visit every weekend? How can we make this work? My husband added that he’d help with teaching math. We can talk more about that when it’s time to choose a lane and stick to it, but that makes homeschooling more viable for us!
So what should you do? I don’t know. Only you can make that decision. I don’t even know what we’re doing yet. Every day new questions come up, the viability and mental health columns are constantly changing. Personally I have to consider the military and the demands it’s putting on my family in all those columns. There are so many things to consider.
Something to keep in mind though, is that you are not chained to any one decision. If any of the large factors you’ve make a decision on, change, you can change your mind and switch tracks. And that’s probably a good line item to put down too – how easily can I implement this or change course from this? For those with kids in school – look into their policies and how hard it would be to pull them out if you put them in right now. Or if you have a child in daycare, how much notice do you need to give them that you’ve changed your mind? Will your spot be held?
I hope that was helpful and gave you some ideas for how to make a decision you can feel at peace with. If you want to chat about it more, let’s continue this conversation in the Parenting Posse.
Stay away from “What factors are you considering for X?” or “How are you making Y work?” vs “Are you sending your kid back or not?” Be more specific, and try not to base your decisions for your child based off of what other people who live ALL OVER THE WORLD are doing or not doing. Keep your questions focused on options and perspectives vs decisions.