COVID-19 has brought struggles and successes to parents worldwide. An Eastern Kentucky University student and professor discuss parenting challenges and opportunities brought by the coronavirus.

“This pandemic has been tough on me mentally and emotionally,” said Abra Endsley, public relations senior lecturer. “It has been a struggle for me to stay positive and see the bright side, and that is important to me because it is reflected in my kids.”

The pandemic has caused many parents to work from home and children to participate in school virtually. Parents felt an extra responsibility to not only adjust to a new work environment but to also have their children excel in school online. 

“I have two children, a ten-year-old and a 13-year-old,” Endsley said. “Not only am I a mom, now I am part tutor, lunch cook, and all kinds of things have entered my daily duties since COVID-19. It has become a lot more of a full-time job instead of my full-time job. The win has been the extra time that I have gotten to spend with them one-on-one.”

Many parents are concerned that their children will be behind in education from everything they did not experience in-person over the last year.

“When talking about elementary age kids, you don’t know what they have at home, if they have anybody to help them and if they understand,” Endsley said. “There are so many things that aren’t easily adapted with the younger students. I cannot imagine what the teachers have had to go through. I just respect and appreciate them so much.”

Many parents and children are struggling socially due to regulations and safety measures set in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

“I have one baby who is six months old. The most important thing has been finding a really close-knit group of friends who have babies around the same age of mine,” said Katelyn Reed, a senior English and pre-law major from Berea, KY. “We have been able to safely have little hangouts where I am able to get mom time and have other mom friends that are safe in practicing COVID-19 guidelines love on my baby and give me a break.”

Parents have experienced additional stress when putting into practice the mindset that they are the biggest advocate in keeping their children safe and healthy. Student and professor parents are adjusting to safety guidelines when returning back to in person classes on campus, with the thought to keep themselves and their families safe from the pandemic.

“I am a new mom, and the hardest part for me was having to ingrain in my brain that I am the first line of defense for my baby,” Reed said. “If there is something that parents think does not feel safe or something that we are not comfortable with, it is our job to step up and say something.”

The coronavirus has brought parents learning opportunities and experiences that might not have occurred otherwise. Even though the pandemic has brought stress and new daily routines, most families have been able to spend more time together.

“When you go into labor right now, you can only have one other person in the room. There was probably one point in labor where I wished my parents were there, but all in all, I think that time for the parents and the baby was really important,” Reed said. “There was a lot less pressure with people trying to be in your face because everyone is very aware of the pandemic, and it allowed us a lot more downtime to spend with our baby.”

Both Reed and Endsley recognized that parenting during a pandemic has not been easy but expressed joys through opportunities that would not have normally occurred. 

“Look for the good in every day, even if it is not what you expected the day to be,” Endsley said. “Do not be stringent with your schedules, yourself and expectations. Try to enjoy the little moments that the pandemic has provided for us.”

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