By Lisha Dunlap, Sr. PR Assoc., Media & Influencer Relations.
As if dealing with a pandemic isn’t difficult enough for most of our nation, 2020 has presented a new challenge for families—homeschooling. While many are adjusting to working from home, most are also trying to figure out how to be a teacher, too. And if that just isn’t enough stress, there are those who are also functioning as working-adult-student-parents.
Whew. Let that sit for a moment.
Fortunately, these badasses are making it work. Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t frustrations and occasional break downs—it means they’re giving it their best and not giving up—so we’ve asked some of our UAT faculty and staff to let us know how they’re keeping up as parents slash employees slash educators slash students, and this is what they had to say.
Our daughter, being very young and an only child for the time being, requires fairly constant attention and guidance in her daily activities. Therefore, when our daughter's daycare suddenly closed, thankfully my husband was also approved to work from home so that we could navigate this challenge together. We quickly created a schedule where we alternate responsibilities throughout the day. One parent is a primary employee and the other is the primary parent/teacher for 2-3 hours at a time. This enables us to work at peak times for our work schedules and also keep our daughter's schedule as consistent as possible. Since she is capable of playing alone for short bursts, when a parent is primary to our daughter, we are still able to be attentive, responsive to messages, emails and calls for work to some degree. In the evenings after our daughter goes to bed, we make up work for an hour or two and I also do my schoolwork until as late as I can.
Navigating this has definitely been a challenge and I've had my ups and downs. My biggest advice if you're struggling is to reach out to your employer. UAT and my manager have been incredibly understanding as all other parents are going through these same challenges. I have been approved to work hours outside of our normal schedule and appreciate that my manager is able to trust that I will still get my work done in return for the leniency and flexibility. My manager also helps me navigate this by staying in communication with me on my progress, expectations, goals, agenda, deadlines and keeps me aligned with priorities. UAT also knows I am working toward my education goals and that by supporting me through with flexibility will enable me to be a less stressed, more productive, and more capable employee with new and enhanced skills.
Secondly, reach out to your professor if you are also a student. I am currently in challenging classes learning amazing new technology skills but they require focused time to work on projects and I happen to currently be shorter on time. After stressing about potentially not finishing my assignments on time, I had to have a heart-to-heart with myself and come to the realization that I needed to shift my expectations. I simply cannot do it all at, but I most certainly can continue forward. I reached out to my professors to explain and requested an extension on my larger assignments due this week. They responded stating that they would be more than happy to work with me during this time, and reminded me that many of us are experiencing this together. I am relieved and glad I made my well-being a priority so that I can be capable of taking on another day.
While we’re all navigating this challenging time, we still need to be the best we can be for ourselves, our employers, our families, and our education. Give yourself a break, do what you can when you can, ask for help when you need it, and try to make the most of each day.
Stace Dixon and her daughter, Charlotte.
In our house, we have used this as an opportunity to show how the real world works by being inclusive of our activities. For instance, while I was setting up the Zoom and Twitch software over the weekend for Game Jam presentations, my oldest connected, streamed, and help me test settings and setup of the environment. This exposed him to technology as well as how businesses and educational institutions are coping with remote working. He also monitored the twitch stream during the live event, being a part of the team that put on a successful event for other students.
Education is more than just the formal aspects of school; it is about adapting to what life throws at you. This is an opportunity to show your kids how to cope and adapt as your environment and working conditions change. You can model balance, work ethic, and healthy work habits that they would not see otherwise.
Other elements that can be brought in deal with empowering your kids. If you are getting into homeschooling or following a remote curriculum from your school, there is opportunity to allow your kids to make their own schedule, managing their time and resources to complete the work while keeping other aspects of their life in balance. One of the biggest elements kids can lose from missing the structure of school is a feeling of everything spinning out of control. Allowing them to take control of the situation and be a part of the solution to move forward in uncertain times will be a life lesson they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Turn this into a time that you spent more time with your kids, supported their needs, and guided them through. They will remember the positive aspects you provided and will be better off because of it.
Tyler Walling, Parent of 2 boys (kindergarten and 2nd grade), Student in the UAT Network Security Bachelor Program, Registrar/PDSO
Both my wife and I try and get up around 5:30 to get in a bit of uninterrupted work before the kids wake up around 6:30.
We try and keep them on some sort of schedule similar to school start time at 8:30. After breakfast and cartoons, we take them on a walk around the park or on a bike ride to get going.
When we get back, we start working on school assignments with one of us taking one kid apiece, so they get individual help while we are still able to work alongside them. After homework, we currently just “play it by ear” and see what the kids are wanting to do.
Things we’ve discovered along the way:
- Breaks for playtime are a must along the way for all of us
- Virtual tours of museums and state/national parks are a HUGE hit with the kids (and myself)
- Dance parties are fun and stress relieving
- Gardening isn’t that bad for a new hobby and the kids enjoy it
- Board games/card games
- Lego Masters TV show inspires us to build
I think the most important thing to take from this is to enjoy the time you do have with your family and make the most of it.
Tyler Walling's two boys.
Ashley Fuentes, Parent of a 3-Year-Old Daughter, Sr. Student Services Coordinator
For me, communicating boundaries and limits with my 3-year-old, Violet, is key. She needs and wants attention, so I give it to her in the morning, during lunch time and after work instead of throughout the day like I normally would. She doesn’t always cooperate, but we are learning together. Work is a priority for me, just like school should be for each student. Create a schedule, and stick to it. Make it fun for your kids and families so that we are truly all in this together!
- Designate a work/study area. Keep the area neat and ensure that you have a solid connection. Log in a few minutes before the start of a scheduled session.
- Keep a routine and be consistent. Inform any family members/roommates of the times when you have live class sessions. Let them know that your door will be closed, if applicable, or you will need some quiet time for a little while so that you can focus.
- Take breaks. Stand up and walk around once an hour or so, especially if you have back to back live sessions.
- Ask questions and take an active role in class if you can attend live. Watch the recordings in their entirety if you cannot attend live. Communicate more than ever before using Microsoft Teams, emails, phone calls, or text messages.
This quote from Walter Anderson speaks to me:
“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have—life itself.”
Ashley Fuentes and her daughter, Violet.
Brandi Beals, Parent of 4 daughters (Junior at a STEM high school, 7th grader at an arts school for ballet, preschooler and a 1-year-old), Manager of Student and Academic Services
When taking breaks or mini walks, involve the kids. Do something fun so they do not feel the stress and anxiety of what is currently happening.
Do not try to homeschool kids, they feel the stress and anxiety that causes the parents and actually makes things worse.
I will often sit side-by-side with my 4-year-old throughout the day. I will create lined paper for her and give her letters, numbers or words to practice writing. I will work while she does her work. When she is done, we review it together. After that, she gets to play as a reward.
When in meetings, the kids will often want to say “hi”. They look at my computer, see everyone, smiles, then walks away to do their own thing. Involving them with what I am doing helps them realize it is not interesting to them, they give me the time I need and then focus on them when I am done.
Remember, everyone is dealing with the pandemic in different ways. My struggles are not more or less significant than anyone else, they are different and unique to me.
Brandi Beals' four daughters.
Herb Mathers, Parent of 1 daughter (1st Grade), Digital and Inbound Marketing Manager
We are in this together. Be quick to help others and don’t be too prideful to ask for help. Here are some recommendations from my daughter’s school:
- Provide structure for your children during this difficult time.
- Have them get up and get ready for “school.” Have your child wear what he or she would wear to school normally.
- Have structured blocks for your children to do their learning at the same time every-day.
- Involve your children in setting the learning schedule. Our daughter picked her class order.
- Replicate some of the activities from the classroom in your daily structure i.e., Pledge of Allegiance, Poetry Recitation, Number of the Day, etc.
- Understand that kids are grieving because they did not get a chance to say good-bye to teachers and friends. They never received any closure prior to this major life change.
- Arrange virtual playdates, reading groups and/or virtual group science experiments with other parents.
In the morning my wife does writing exercises with her to be able to recognize numbers and letters.
My daughter usually has gymnastics 2 times a week, so I have converted the garage into a little gymnastics studio for her to play for a few hours. I have also converted my daughter’s bike into a stationary bike so she can ride her bike at home. We usually go for a walk around 6-7 as the sun starts to set.
Mark Smith's daughter, Mariana.
If you’ve gotten anything from this (other than the exceptional advice), is that every parent—and every routine—is completely different. Our lives are all unique, and right now, every situation is, so pull what you can from others to help yourself, but ultimately you will find your own groove. As for me, I’m a parent of a 3rd grade boy, with a husband in school, and the Sr. PR Assoc., Media & Influencer Relations at University of Advancing Technology. Every day has its own challenges, but it also has a lot of good in it, too. I’ve cried. I’ve made jokes. I’ve read books, inspirational quotes, and anything I can get my hands on now that Amazon has stopped nonessential delivery. I’ve run, I’ve walked, and I’ve tried to find a quiet place for yoga. I’ve had my son work very hard on schoolwork some days, and little on others. I’ve even tried crafts.
But what haven’t I done? Quit. Or even considered it. Bad days are okay, and as Pinterest would say, a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life. At UAT, we know being an adult student with a million other home, work, and parental responsibilities is hard, but we believe in you, because YOU CAN DO IT. Remind yourself of that as many times a day as you need to, and know that we are here for you. Student Services is just a call away for a good pep talk, and your instructors are ready and willing to help you make this work. Show us what you’re made of.
Now go hug your kid. A good hug fixes lots of things.
For more information on our advancing degree programs and our SyncFlex program that allows you to pursue your degree virtually, call one of our Admissions Advisors at 877.828.4335 or email email@example.com.
Written by Lisha Dunlap
Sr. PR Assoc., Media & Influencer Relations at University of Advancing Technology