Are you concerned about sending your twins back to their school this fall? You aren’t alone. See why one mom says she won’t be sending her kids back yet.
If there is one thing that COVID-19 has taught me, it’s to be careful what you wish for. Way back in the pre-pandemic days of March, I was a busy work-from-home mom of twin Kindergartners. I’ll never forget that last week before the virus was identified in my state: I was stressed beyond belief because I had a PTO meeting, a doctor’s visit, a dental cleaning, and a salon appointment in the same week. My twins had swim class to get to, and soccer and gymnastics were about to start.
I had too much to do and too little time to do it. Little did I know that life was about to throw me –and the rest of the world—a curveball. I would soon have more time on my hands than I knew what to do with.
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Four months later, I’m an unemployed mom of twins entering first grade. Like so many other parents, I’m faced with new challenges and stressors as I try to navigate my family’s return to normal while COVID-19 looms overhead.
All in all, we have been very lucky – my husband David is a teacher. He worked from home until the school year officially ended, and unlike so many others, I didn’t lose my job until July. My boy-girl twins are young enough that for them, this whole ordeal has been nothing more than an exciting adventure. Most importantly, we are healthy. For this, I am immensely grateful.
Running low on self-care with everyone at home? See how some twin moms take care of themselves without leaving home here.
But it has been four long months, and let’s be honest: I WANT THESE CHILDREN OUT OF THE HOUSE. I want my children to be healthy and safe, and I want to do everything in my power to protect them, of course. And I WANT THESE CHILDREN OUT OF THE HOUSE.
We are approximately five weeks from the start of the new school year, and my husband and I are having the same debate as so many others: do we send the kids back to their school or keep them home?
A NICU Start Prevents me From Sending Them Back to Their School
The debate is particularly relevant to twin parents, I believe, because the nature of twin births led so many of us to begin parenthood in a state of constant vigilance. Preemie births, and all the health problems associated with them, tend to make a person rather cautious.
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My twins are six years old and I can still hear the alarms from monitors in the NICU in my sleep. Parents of twins understand perhaps a bit more keenly than others the necessity of handwashing and social isolation, because we’ve adhered to these recommendations since Day One. We had to.
Some of our children still have health conditions as a result of their premature births. Our memories of our helpless babies, attached to tubes and machines and fighting for survival, are our own version of war medals that we keep locked away in a drawer. Living through a pandemic led me to metaphorically take out those medals and reflect on the battles my children have won in their short lives. Because of this, I’m not ready to send my children into yet another war zone just yet. I’m just not ready to send my twins back to school.
Their Futures Keep me From Sending Them Back to Their School
One of the scariest things about this virus is that so little is known about it. Researchers and physicians still don’t understand much about it, and it seems like every week a new study appears in the news with an alarming discovery. We don’t yet know the lasting effects of this virus and what long-term impact it might have on the health of survivors.
Some years back, Post-Polio Syndrome was in the news. The NINDS determined that adults who survived polio as children were beginning to experience symptoms – some of them disabling – decades after they contracted the disease. Of course, no one knew this was even a possibility until just a few years ago.
What if COVID-19 turns out to be similar? What if I send my children back to school in the fall and they wind up with COVID-19? What if they contract symptoms that might just look like a harmless cold now. Will there be ramifications years from now that will impact their health?
Have you heard about the upside to this pandemic? Check out how one mom says she’s learned about the benefits of having twins during the pandemic.
Other People Keep me From Sending Them Back to Their School
When my twins first started preschool, I took a leap of faith that they would be safe and well-cared for by their teachers. Sending our kids to school in the midst of a pandemic requires an even bigger leap of faith. Will their classmates wear masks? Will they wear them correctly?
Are you concerned about getting your twins to wear a face mask? Check out our tips to get your kids to wear masks here!
Every week I see adults out in stores who begrudgingly wear a mask. Perhaps they’re young and healthy and feel a bit invincible. Maybe their reluctance is based on political beliefs. Whatever the reason, they exist and they may not be stressing the importance of proper mask-wearing into their children the way I hammer into mine. How do I know one of those kids won’t be in MY kids’ class if I send them back to their school?
When school buildings were closed, I already worked remotely, so I’m lucky that my family didn’t need to worry about childcare. Balancing a full-time job with virtual learning wasn’t easy, but at least I didn’t have to make the difficult decision about whether or not to go without pay in order to stay at home with my kids. Not all parents were that fortunate and not all parents have the luxury of taking time off when their children are ill.
Got a sick kid at home? Read our tips to comfort your sick twins.
What if one of my twins’ classmates wakes up sick, and their parent, facing a day without pay, takes the risk of sending that child to school? Go ahead and ask your local elementary school nurse how often they are told by students that their parent gave them “the pink stuff” because they didn’t feel good that morning. Right or wrong, it happens. A lot.
Since COVID-19 came in like a wrecking ball, my family has been exceedingly cautious. During the stay-at-home order, only my husband grocery shopped. We accepted food and package deliveries like vampires fearful of exposing ourselves to the sun. We avoided human contact like, well, the plague. Once the stay-at-home order was lifted, we celebrated with a social-distancing get-together in our driveway for close family. In a happy coincidence, the father of one of the twins’ classmates brought his daughter by for a visit.
When Expectations are Reasonable They Can go Back to Their
The twins were delighted, and frankly, so were we. However, many times that day we had to remind the kids not to hug, not to touch, and not to get within 6 feet of each other. They were caught up in the delight of playing together and quickly forgot the rules. Do I think one teacher can keep 30-some kids apart when nine adults couldn’t keep three children apart? Nope.
As the spouse of a teacher, I’ve accepted that part of our income will subsidize his classroom. I happily buy tissue, hand sanitizer, markers, and pencils for David’s class on a regular basis because school districts lack the funds needed for these necessities. Am I confident that these same districts will be able to afford the vast amounts of hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and the staff needed to constantly sanitize surfaces? Nope.
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Based on all of these factors, David and I have decided to choose a virtual option for our twins this fall. Am I sure of this decision? Nope. I vacillate constantly; I worry if our efforts to protect the twins will harm them academically, socially, and emotionally.
Like you, I’m trying to make an impossible decision with the limited information at hand. We have to feel comfortable whether we send our kids back to their school this year or not. Ultimately, keeping the twins at home this school year is a decision I can live with. Well, at least until the vaccine arrives and I CAN GET THESE CHILDREN OUT OF THE HOUSE.
Dawn Krzisnik is the bemused mother of 4-year-old boy/girl twins, Evelyn and Holden. She is married to David, a high school teacher and children’s book author. She lives in Michigan with her family and her Toy Manchester Terrier, Scout. Dawn works from home as a legal transcript proofreader. In previous lives she worked as a project manager and as a marriage, family, and child therapist for community mental health agencies. You can follow Dawn’s Facebook page, Twinsition.