Meet April Flores, a sometimes blogger for BC, former teacher and SAHM to two wee ones. We brought April back into our “Diary of a Parent” mix because she has been thinking a lot about homeschooling and we know many other parents are, too. Here’s what she says.
On Tuesday, March 11, I picked up my son Danny from preschool, and without discussing it with my wife Jen, decided that our son would no longer attend school due to the possible exposure to COVID-19.
Hours later, I emailed his teachers informing them of my decision and even mentioned possible withdrawal for the remainder of the school year. I also told one of his teachers that I could not volunteer the following day for the same reason. The next day I informed close family friends that I could not watch their kids as I’ve been doing the past two years. I was scheduled to watch their kids for a good portion of the remainder of the week since one parent was out of town and the other was working.
When Jen returned home from work, I let her know about all of my decisions. They weren’t easy decisions and I knew the impact and inconvenience they’d have on several people that I love. I felt selfish and like I had suddenly and rashly put my foot down. Jen, however, supported me. I wasn’t sure how long Danny would be out of school or how long it would be before I could help watch my friends’ kids again. All I knew was that I wanted to keep our family safe, and that’s still my goal, especially since Jen’s mom and I are considered high-risk individuals.
I was born with a congenital heart disease, ventricular septal defect, and Jen’s mom is in her upper 70s. We’ve lived with her for almost two years so 40 percent of our household is high risk.
Jen was a Johns Hopkins Hospital adult ICU nurse for twelve years and is now a nurse manager. She knows firsthand what can happen if I or her mother contracts COVID-19. Years ago we filled out advanced directives and we rehashed our wishes concerning end of life decisions. Though we have kept healthy thus far, this is where we are and what has consumed our lives and decision making.
As cases increased, so did Jen’s workload. Not only does she report to the hospital almost daily, but she also does all of our grocery shopping and errands now, too. This is a significant change in our home since I’m a stay-at-home parent. I have not been in any other building besides our home since March 12 and no one has entered our home since then either.
Thankfully I’ve been able to enjoy the outdoors; we often go for bike rides, walks or hikes. If we don’t make it past our neighborhood, we at least get outside to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. Those two things have kept me stable and hopeful. Being outside also provides some sense of normalcy for our kids, too. Masks have become normal for us. The only time we don’t wear masks outside is if we’re the only people out. Otherwise, we’re all in masks, including our soon to be 2-year-old wild child Leah.
We have our new normal. Our routine is now: slowly wake up, eat breakfast, do cosmic kids yoga, complete some “schoolwork”, play/go on an outdoor adventure, return for lunch, do more school work/nap for the babe, play outside, eat dinner then get ready for bed.
Danny watches a lot more television than he used to, so much that I recently scaled his screen time back to one hour a day as opposed to morning and afternoon time. Prior to the lockdown, he was only allowed screen time on the weekends.
Another drastic part of our new normal is that I have not kissed my wife for 72 days—72 days! We’re really not taking any chances. When she returns home from the hospital, she showers in the basement (where most of her belongings are now) then she comes up and joins us for dinner. We also no longer share food or drinks. All of this might seem extreme, but it’s what we think is best for our family and despite all of the insane changes, I feel like we’re doing OK. Probably because we have each other and our daily dose of fresh air and sunshine.
Actually, it’s definitely because we have each other and we want to keep it that way.
We cancelled our summer vacations, people that were supposed to visit us cancelled their trips, schools cancelled for the remainder of the year, shops closed and life as we knew it came to a screeching halt. Fast forward two months, and society is daring to re-enter the world of the living. Shops, parks, and restaurants are open with many restrictions in place. People have to decide whether or not to venture out. I know our game plan, we’re not travelling until there’s a vaccine.
I likely won’t be in a public setting until January 2021, but I’m not going to lie, I want to try something. I want to play pickleball even if it’s just with the same four people over and over again. In my heart, the one I’m protecting, I know I can’t though. I can’t take that risk. Which is probably why a couple of weeks ago, Jen told me she thinks I should homeschool Danny for kindergarten next year. I have no problem doing this, but it makes me ache for our kids, parents and the world. Parents are overwhelmed, kids are doing the exact opposite of what they’ve been taught their entire lives—stay away from others, don’t share, don’t touch anyone and we’re just trying to survive another day.
None of this is easy, but like everyone else, I’m just trying to make it work somehow. If that means I have to homeschool Danny next year, I’ll do it. It won’t be perfect. I’m not an early childhood educator. I’ve been at home and have worked with infants, toddlers and little kids the past five years, but that doesn’t make me an expert. I just pretend to know what I’m doing and proceed confidently, which is what I’ll do in the fall.
Let’s be honest though, chances are likely that schools won’t even open in the fall.
I said it, I put it out there. I know that’s not what people want to hear. Let’s think about though. These are things we don’t want to imagine, prepare for, or do, but we’re all doing our best to make things work for our families.
The one thing we can all agree on is that COVID-19 has disrupted our lives, but it doesn’t have to destroy them. We can and will get through this pandemic one slow day at a time. Find your light and take it in daily. Then recharge, and do it all over again, and again and again.
If you feel like your light is about to extinguish, have it rekindled by someone else. We are not alone. You are not alone. We can provide light to one another even while COVID looms. Don’t be afraid to shine during this time of darkness.
One spark is all that is needed to help someone get through another day.
Read April’s essay about being a stay-at-home parent in our latest issue.