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Parenting in a pandemic, finding support

December 7
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Family of four sitting by Christmas treeBy Tara Evans, Dane County after school parent

My favorite thing about being a parent is watching my kids learn and grow, and grow into such wonderful human beings. I just look at them and think, “Gosh, did I do that? I sure did!” 

When my husband Ben and I decided to have kids, it was a very deliberate thoughtful conversation. Are we ready to do this? Do we want to do this? Are we the right people to do this? Not once did the idea of a pandemic enter the conversation. 

Parenting in a pandemic
The pandemic has been hard. Both my husband and I work full time. We are fortunate enough to have jobs where we can work from home, but we are working. You feel lousy as a mom to tell them to play video games or entertain themselves. But that’s really what it was like when we were all home. 

The healthcare provider in me cringed to send my kids to school during a pandemic. But the mom in me was cheering because it is so good for them on so many different levels. It’s hard to reconcile those two feelings. 

Support outside school hours
We had a time when there was a bully at school and my son didn’t want to go to school. His teacher was able to talk to him and figure out what was going on. And that day, the social worker, teacher, and Wisconsin Youth Company all got together to come up with a plan. I felt so supported! 

What a good feeling to know you have all that support around your child.  I’m so grateful to Wisconsin Youth Company and everything they’ve provided. 

When I think about school, I think about academics, but there is so much beyond that. The age range of 7-10 is all about learning to cope with big emotions that aren’t the primary goal of school. That’s the part that I could use help with as a parent. Learning to be kind, to listen and be respectful — those are the areas that after school helps with. 

I still work from home, but I have my kids go to After School because we’ve had enough home time. They’re interacting with friends, they’re doing homework; it provides them with so much more. 

Safe spaces during the workday
When I’m home, I don’t have the time or ability to focus my attention on them. When they’re at After School, it helps the balance a little bit. It’s nice to know that when I’m at work, I can focus on work and when I’m at home I can focus on home. I don’t have to merge the two worlds like I did at the beginning of the pandemic. 

After school provides safe space for my children to be themselves. I think if they feel like they can be who they are, then they will be successful. If they feel safe and feel supported, then they can grow into who they are. 

I just want my children to be happy and healthy. My hope for them is that they live in a world that is tolerant, open, respectful, and kind. It feels so far away, but maybe my kids can be the ones to help make the change.