Parents all over America are freaking out about homeschooling their children and keeping them “academically active” during the quarantine. I have been among them, trying to play the role of teacher, mother and work-from-home business owner. The thought of being home all day with the kids while working paralyzed me mentally, so in order to regain some control over the situation, I immediately created a schedule. I was using online groups as a resource to learn about streamable content that was educational, such as the Cincinnati Zoo’s live streams to teach kids about animals (so grateful for that) and Mo Willems lunch doodles drawing hour (thanks Kennedy Center).
By the end of the first week, I was mentally drained and cranky. How was I going to keep this up, while also not driving my kids crazy? I knew that I needed to change my mindset on what “good and responsible parenting during the quarantine” meant because if I didn’t, my emotional and mental health would decrease greatly. In addition, I was diagnosed with PTSD in the summer of 2016 after remembering childhood trauma; being around my children can be triggering and cause panic attacks. Since 2016, I have been working on staying in the moment, breath work and meditation to be present with my children and husband, while also being gentle with myself by acknowledging that I am not a perfect parent (and that’s okay). The coronavirus pandemic has reminded me that these practices are more important now than ever.
At the end of homeschooling week one, I read a Facebook update in group for parents navigating this new normal that saved me. A mother said that she has been homeschooling her children for years now and we should not be making our kids do five-to-six hours of school work at home as an attempt to re-create their school environment–it just won’t work. Two hours of textbook school work a day is fine, she said. It was in that moment that I finally started to relax. I shifted my mindset to release my burden, fear and frustration. I also thanked God for a Nintendo Switch role playing game called Mario’s World that is my six-year-old daughter’s and five-year-old son’s new obsession. At first, I felt guilty about letting them play it during the school week. When my son asked to play it, I responded, “Do you play video games at school?” and he responded, “But I’m not at school!” Good point. I was outwitted and rightly so. They play it every day now and I don’t feel guilty.
Guess what? There are a lot of educational components reinforced in Mario’s World, such as reading, navigating a map, team work, problem solving and managing conflict. They play as a team, one person is the red cap and the other is Mario, which means they have to agree on the next steps in the game–this also means they fight about it and have to ultimately agree on next steps to move forward. They are actually beating levels! I was shocked. Their game playing also gave me a much-needed break to get some of my work done or do self-care.
In chapter seven of American Buddhist nun Padma Chödrön’s book “The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness,” she states, “Life is a miracle, and a lot of time we feel only resentment about how it’s all working out for us…The more you can be completely now [through mindfulness], the more you realize that you are in the center of the world, standing in the middle of a sacred circle.” During this time of uncertainty, one of the best things I can do is bring calm and stability to my children’s lives through our sacred circle at home, so that we can learn how to thrive when there are challenges, see the good in the uncomfortable and be flexible when surprises are thrown our way.
Nubia DuVall Wilson is a survivor of child sexual abuse igniting social impact through storytelling on her website nubiaduvall.com. She is a content creator for numerous outlets and is a two-time published author. She is also the founder of Cielo Consulting, a boutique public relations and marketing agency based in the New York City metro area. Follow her on Instagram @EncounterswithNubia and on Twitter @NubiaWilson