The Investigators: How virtual schooling could impact parents’ mental health

Investigators: BTS parents seeking help

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Melissa Meadows is a part-time yoga teacher and full-time parent to three Shelby County Schools students.

While her girls won’t need constant supervision when they go back to school virtually Aug. 31, they still need their mom.

“I have gotten those calls while I’m at work like, ‘Mom, the internet is not working I don’t know what to do,‘” she said. “That does cause stress for all of us.”

Meadows said she will stay home for the first couple of days of school to make sure her children feel comfortable and confident when they start virtual learning.

“I’m not the best technical support but I’m going to do the best I can,” Meadows said.

“I think this is a time where we’re doing the best that we can with the information that we have to make the decisions we hope are best for our family,” Paige Marcantel, director of the Universal Parenting Place at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, said.

The Parenting Place offers free counseling and classes for parents and families.

According to Marcantel, more parents reaching out for support as they deal with stress from the pandemic and the de facto home-schooling that comes with virtual classes.

“I think it’s important as the parent to model positivity,” Marcantel said. “We can do this. It’s not going to look as how school always looks. Mom and dad are going to make some mistakes and you’re going to make some mistakes as a kid and that’s OK.”

Meadows is encouraging her girls not to focus on the things they’re missing out on - like sports and time with friends.

“I have just tried to be as positive as I can be and it’s so hard some days to be positive,” she said.

“This is obviously very, very challenging,” Rikki Harris, CEO of Tennessee Voices, said. “We’re definitely seeing the need for support rising.”

“There are parents who are working and trying to manage their child’s school,” Harris said. “There are parents who have lost jobs and are under a great amount of stress to figure out the next steps for their family while managing school.”

Harris suggests parents stay in a routine, reach out for help and support, and work in shifts if possible.

“Maybe one child for a couple of hours in the morning, then the next child, and then maybe you even schedule a shift in for yourself if you need to do your own work or work around the home,” she said.

For Meadows, that means making time to practice yoga and spending quality time as a family.

“Exercise is a big part of life for all of us. We’ve done family walks, runs, it’s just good to get outside and get moving when we’ve spent so much time indoors,” Meadows said.

Mental health experts say exercise is also a great way to cope with stress. They also encourage parents to take time for yourself so you can take care of your children.

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