Parenting through COVID

Parenting beach view

Parenting through COVID: an exercise in change management

Hooray, we have a plan for my daughters who are entering Kindergarten and 3rd Grade (5 and 8 years old)! They’ll be in school in the morning with an additional hour of remote learning at home in the afternoon. Great! I can work with that and business can be done; I can serve my clients. The girls and I went school supply shopping and it was so exciting! Masks and hand sanitizer and all, still excited!

But wait… the next Board of Education meeting 7 days later and yet another change in the plan (the 3rd change, I think; I’ve lost count). 100% Remote Learning to start for the first 6 weeks at least. WHAT?! WHY?! Kindergarten and 3rd Grade?! HOW is that going to work?!

I can’t even count the number of times I have sunk into the “valley of despair” in the last 5 months, but this last time was a valley of quick sand. Helping people through changes is what I do — and I’m really good at it. I have helped leaders say and do the right things to support their employees to shift behaviors so an adoption to something new is a success. I have assessed and predicted areas of resistance and fear and anger, and guided people through those emotions to get to the other side. I can look at my situation through a change management lens (because I actually see all the world this way), but I cannot change manage myself!

… Or can I? The day after the announcement to full time remote, I went to a dark place. You know that change curve where it dips in the middle? Where confusion, fear, resentment dwell? Yeah, I was there.

Funny, because I just let myself be there. It was dark, and ugly, and my family didn’t like me very much for a couple days. I guess somewhere in me I understood that I’d get out of it, and that I couldn’t force those feelings down. Because I know (and I coach my clients) that the valley eventually rises to a place of understanding and acceptance. And with the right care, empathy, explaining (the WHY is so important!) and teaching new things, you could rise from the valley quicker or not go so deep, but you cannot rush it.

After a couple days, I found a way to shift and a plan to manage the reality of remote learning. Ha, look at that – on my way up the curve… at least until the next drop down to a new valley of despair. But, I know I can rise from that one, too.

The change management process works. This will make me a better practitioner. I have a fresh reminder of  the extreme desperation of feeling a total loss of control and empowerment that being thrown into a change can do to a person.

If you and your team are feeling this (and I’d argue there’s no one on the planet who’s not having to deal with a change right now), I get it and I can help.


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