Parenting in a Pandemic

As students continue their online learning, parents experience unique challenges — and rewards — during shelter-in-place


Kyla Henige

Though digital learning has been stressful for many students, parents have also had a tough job during shelter-in-place. Many parents are balancing a job from home with the demands of parenting, and many have even lost their jobs.

Michelene Havard, Staff Writer

An MCHS parent wakes up early to coordinate a work schedule from home. They have to work around their teenage daughter who has digital learning days. However, they work as a team so that they do not get in each other’s way while they are working. Parents are effectively rearranging their daily lives to help their kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Due to the lockdown I have had to change many aspects of my life,” said parent Joseph Koch. “I check in daily with my kids to make sure eLearning is going [okay], as well as spend many hours of the night helping [my] kids try to navigate the eLearning system, which I would normally spend my time working around the house or on my hobbies.”

“I am glad schools are continuing education with the eLearning to finish out the year,’’ Koch continued. “But it is very difficult to watch kids try to teach themselves. So [although] I am glad the kids are out of school [which is] safer, I have concern over the materials that are being missed.”

“The hardest part of being a parent during this [crisis] is not knowing,’’ explained Koch. “[I don’t know] if I will be able to keep my children safe from this virus. And, [it’s hard] having to watch my high school senior and junior high graduates miss out on all the parts of school they have worked so hard for only to have them taken away.”

Many parents are trying to stay positive even when they know their kids are missing out on a lot. 

“As a parent, you always worry about the health, safety, and happiness of your children,” said MCHS parent Melissa Snyder, “With the shelter at home orders now given through May, we are trying hard to give our girls the reassurance and positivity they need. It’s hard to see them disappointed with so many things canceled or postponed. It’s been challenging to balance helping them through this while also showing them that this is a time to work together, help others, and embrace this opportunity to slow down and be together.”

Work is hard to come by and parents are doing everything they can to help their family, even if that means risking their health. 

“As for work during this time I am an essential worker as I own a Heating and Cooling company,” said Koch. “Trying to run my company during this time has proved a new set of challenges. My job requires me to go into different peoples houses every day, so I have had to find ways to be in someone’s home working but keep everyone safe at the same time. I have seen a massive reduction in the amount of work and many customers are rescheduling until things calm down.”

Some parents have an essential job, but they do not have to leave the comfort of their home. 

“I’m a speech and language pathologist working with District 15 in McHenry,” Snyder informed. “I work from home every day. I provide lessons and activities to my students as a part of their remote learning and attend meetings through Zoom or Google Meet. I’m grateful to be working and connecting with my students and colleagues during this time of school closures.”

“Of course I’m disappointed that school buildings are closed, but I understand and support the decision,” Snyder continued. “I’m impressed with the excellent communication from the schools, the continuation of quality eLearning, and I’m so grateful for the hard work and support from the teachers.  What’s most important right now is the health and safety of our community and showing support for our healthcare workers.”

Since Illinois has started shelter-in-place, parents are forced to change their daily routines.

“We are taking the stay at home orders seriously and do many things differently now,” Snyder explained. “We don’t visit with friends and family. We only check on the grandparents through texts, FaceTime, or dropping off groceries. We stay out of the stores as much as possible and use grocery pick-up or delivery. We are all either working from home or participating in e-learning.  We are checking on friends and family members more often and doing what we can to help and support one another. We are finding new ways to stay active since our sports and exercise routines have been postponed. We are a faith-filled family and have had to view our church services through livestream.”

With so much additional time at home, parents have the opportunity to relax or get the household spic and span.

“I find most of my extra time is spent trying to manage a household,” Koch said. “I try to plan bigger shopping trips so I have to go out less often, and have found myself shopping online more now.”

“On a good note,” Koch added. “This virus has caused some positive things to come up such as more family dinners together, more time to sit and spend with my kids, and a chance to watch old home movies. I have seen more people go out and enjoy nature areas and trails, kids playing in their yards, families spending time together that would otherwise not normally have happened.”

Both Koch and Snyder have been able to connect closer to their families during the pandemic.

“We’ve found new ways of helping others and connecting with family and friends,” says Snyder. “For example, we have a weekly Zoom meeting with our extended family. It’s been wonderful and comforting to see their faces and know they are doing well. We are donating and delivering food to those in need. It’s giving my girls the chance to support and help others in our community. I bake cookies and then we deliver them to family and friends we feel need our support and love. Finally, we’ve had the chance to slow down and catch up from our busy lifestyle and really appreciate one another.”

“I feel as if this virus disrupted all of our lives in some way,” said Koch. “And although people are keeping their distance from each other for safety, it seems to me that people are closer than ever before.”