When Suzan Kozman’s three children started distance learning, it looked like clearly marked work stations for each child on the kitchen island of their Tarzana home.
“It was super structured like out of a magazine, here’s everyone’s spot and that lasted about a week,” Kozman said.
Now the kids are scattered throughout the house and her schedules for each of them went by the wayside.
“I’m more concerned about me and my ability to parent through this, not necessarily their skills or their math skills or their reading skills,” she said.
Kozman says her biggest challenges are unrealistic expectations and she’s not alone.
“We really do need to understand that life is very different right now and you have to give yourself some flexibility and recognize that what you might have been able to accomplish three months ago in a day is just not possible now,” Dr. Valerie Crabtree, a psychologist and Chief of Psychosocial Services at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, said.
“Many adults right now are stressed and worried and kids really do pick up on that. And so it’s important for us to be able to have open conversations with our kids,” she said.
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To help with those conversations, St. Jude put together age-appropriate coronavirus resources on their website, including coloring books for little ones, activity sheets for teens and tweens, and advice for parents.
“I have good days and bad days and now it’s turned into good hours and bad hours,” Kozman said.
She relies on friends for support and realized her children need that too when she caught her middle child “zooming” with a friend when he should’ve been “zooming” science class.
“I took a breath and said, ‘Andrew, that’s not the time to do it. Please turn it off,’” Kozman said. “And I want you to talk to your friends so that stresses me out more than the learning side.”
Dr. Crabtree says striking that balance with your kids and being kind to yourself is crucial.
“As long as we’re doing our best and showing our children we love them, and want to keep them safe and healthy, that’s the best we can do,” Dr. Crabtree said.
Kozman admits there are days when school work doesn’t get done, but she’s learned to focus on what does go well.
“As long as I’m focusing on those positives, it puts my head in a better space to be the best mom, wife I can be,” Kozman said.