“I have to remember to have more patience even when I feel like I don’t have any left”
By Ebony Wynn
The population at Queensborough Community College isn’t just filled with your average students from high school. The campus also holds many students who are parents currently going through a pandemic and are forced to continue their education online. How are they managing work, online school and having to teach their children our new remote way of learning?
“Know that it will be challenging,” says Farah Miller in the New York Times article “Advice form Home-schooling. Parents for Remote Learning.” “The most wonderful thing is that you’re home with your kids all the time. And the worst thing is that you’re home, with your kids, all the time.”
“Distance learning only works when parents are at least somewhat involved. Very few people know so much about educating children remotely,” wrote Besha Rodell from Australia in another New York Times column. expressing her anxiety dealing with her teenage son attending school remotely and feeling “burdened to police his time.”
Parents who are students at Queensborough Community College are no exception. Diego Espinoza, age 33, attends QCC and has a 10-year-old son who he now must teach, all while working and furthering his education online.
“My major struggle during this pandemic is working while my wife is in the process of becoming a U.S Citizen,” Diego said. “The pandemic slowed down our process, making it tough for her to find employment. I am the only one working and the cost of living is expensive, two incomes are almost required to sustain a living in NYC.”
Diego’s wife has a visa, but no one will hire a “non-citizen.”
“It’s actually helped me do my classes from home online, which I was unsure QCC provided. I get to work, help my wife at home so that she has more time to spend helping my son with his schoolwork and now I don’t have to waste so much time traveling to school. It’s easier for my personal life.”
Remote learning may have made Diego’s personal life easier but for single father Laron King, 28, says this whole pandemic situation is “overwhelming.” His major struggle is finding employment that allows him to also play teacher to his six-year-old daughter during a pandemic where no one is hiring.
“I have to remember to have more patience even when I feel like I don’t have any left or energy to muster up” stated Laron. “I tend to put my daughter’s schooling and needs before my own. She’s basically learning everything for the first time and requires a lot more attention and assistance”
For many QCC parents , the concern lies with their ability to keep everything moving and functional without neglecting their kids or their own responsibilities. In one survey of working parents, “54% say they feel guilty because they can’t fully care for their children, while 43% feel guilty caring for family instead of using that time to focus on their work responsibilities,” as reported by CNBC of a survey by Catalyst, a global nonprofit that aims to support women in the workplace. “I’m constantly failing at one or the other. I’m either doing a bad job at work or a bad job of parenting,” states Elizabeth Wiggs in CNBC’S report. “It’s hard to maintain a sense of your personal value and self-worth when the two pillars of my identity- my career and being a parent feel like they have just massive cracks running through their foundation. ‘it’s almost’ like an identity crisis.”
QCC student Laron King says he doesn’t know what he would do if he was also working, going to school and teaching his daughter. He expressed that our new way of learning has affected his relationship with his daughter, not being able to spend the same quality time. Focusing on her education means less free time, leaving the only free time he has to complete his own assignments.
“I am no longer the fun dad I used to be. I’m more tired than usual and my daughter has noticed and has a new nick name for me… sleepy monster.”
Everyone is facing their own challenges during this pandemic but for parents and those at QCC one challenge they face is employment. For some it means either not working, cutting back hours or sharing the responsibility with a spouse or grandparent. According to the same survey by Catalyst, 48% of parents are planning to cut back on work this fall if their children do not go back to school full-time. This percentage also includes those who are going back to work part-time, as well as the parents that are deciding to quit their jobs, even if it’s temporary.
Sacrifices are what help balance most of the newfound responsibilities parents are facing. Even through a pandemic everyone needs a break and although cautious for our health and with not much to do socially, what can parents of QCC do to de-stress or recommend other parents to do who are also facing these difficult times?
“To be honest, my way of destressing as of recent is to sleep,” Laron says. “It helps clear my mind and rejuvenates me to continue another day-” Laughing, he adds, “We cannot take on the world with no fuel.”
Diego said spending time with family is the best thing you can do while being precautious and suggest doing indoor activities like cooking or if you have the space cook outdoors, camp in your own back yard but think of creative ways to have fun at home until things become normalized.