By: Lyndsey Ducharme, MFF Fellow & Mom of Twins
Well It happened. They cancelled school until at least May 4th, and let’s be honest, who is holding their breath that they are going back this year. Talk about a game changer. This turns my world upside down.
Our family has been very lucky in this crazy time. We are a healthy family, and my husband is considered essential, which means he is still working. We do have concerns about our rental income and what next week will look like. He is essential today, but who knows next week. Things are changing daily, even hourly right now, for the entire world. I am a stay-at-home mom, and the words “stay home” are right in the title. My husband, Shea, and I decided I would stay home this year, even with them in school, so that I could have time for me to figure out what was next for me, and we figured the first year would come with a few challenges. Well, good thing that was always the plan. Beyond planning my shopping trips more, my day-to-day life hasn’t changed-still doing the stay-at-home mom thing, just with fewer options. Here is the part that turns my life upside down: I am now the boys’ kindergarten teacher.
Don’t get me wrong: the Manchester School District has done a fantastic job with communication and education. We were given a packet filled with worksheets, there are new videos online for them to watch all the time, and we speak with their teacher daily. That doesn’t change the fact that I am the one teaching them, and what that will end up costing us in the long run.
Remote learning is new to most parents, and it certainly is for me. I love doing activities with my little dudes, but this is a different level. It’s all very overwhelming. My head was spinning for a week. After the sheer panic of being responsible for their education passed, my next thought was what would need for supplies. Supplies cost money! I love crafts! It is my therapy, and in some ways it is for my kids too. I had a lot of stuff already, but it will all run out. During the “Shelter in Place,” it’s not exactly like I can run to the craft or dollar store when we don’t have everything we need for a project. I have been having to get very creative lately with what we have and what I can steal (I mean borrow) from my mom. We are doing great, but it’s only been two weeks. I ordered more supplies this weekend. In some ways, I probably saved money because I bought in bulk and didn’t just wander the store to impulse buy. In other ways, though, it cost me A LOT more money than normal, as I am a dollar store fan!!! But because of COVID-19, I ordered everything online from other places.
The cost of time is something I didn’t really think about when the COVID-19 epidemic started. My kids are losing the time they would have in school-time with their teachers and friends. My boys won’t finish their first year at school, while other kids won’t get to finish their senior year in school. Friendships could end up lost. My boys were just starting to really get comfortable with the idea of school, and now it’s gone and replaced with all this chatter about COVID-19. Talk about a cost, a cost of security, especially for the kids that depended on school for a safe, warm place to be, and food is huge.
In some ways, remote learning costs me time with my husband. It’s not a large cost because I have figured out a good system, but usually two nights a week I plan out our school week. I usually do at this at night when we would be spending time together. We don’t get a lot of time together, so planning school steals from that. It’s not a large cost, but it’s there. Shea and I figure out a plan to make it work for both of us. He is a big help with remote learning. He may not be here during the day, but he helps me plan and helps where he can.
Remote learning and COVID-19 are the new normal, so these costs are most likely not going away. The good news is like most things in life, it’s all in how you look at it. Does this time create some very difficult challenges? Yes, yes it does! Does this time keep you stuck in your house? Yes, yes it does. But…does this time create lots of room for creativity and family time? Yes, yes it does. Does this time allow you to be part of history? A time your kids will tell their kids about? Yes, yes it does! Does this time allow time for a new financial plan to be built? Yes, yes it does! Let’s not focus on just the negative because I don’t know about you, but time with my family, being creative, facing new challenges, and being part of history all sounds very positive.