As an early childhood social worker, I speak to parents daily about the trials and tribulations of raising children during a pandemic. I hear firsthand stories about the creative ways parents are attempting to engage their children in activities that do not involve screen time, unique ways parents are trying to keep grandparents involved and connected, and resourceful strategies parents use to help their children succeed with remote learning. While I too have done all of these things and continue to worry deeply about our children, I am also concerned about us as parents losing pieces of ourselves while trying to make sure our children remain whole.
For the past 10 months, I have heard "Mom" more times in one hour than I could have ever imagined. I have listened to them say, "I'm bored" more times that I care to count, despite the stocked playroom shelves of games, puzzles, and toys. The interruptions keep coming at me while I am trying to work-requests to help decode a new reading word or solve a math problem-are all contributing to my diminishing patience and positive attitude. As parents, we are trying to juggle a lot. We have been confronted with very serious decisions to make about our children's health and safety, all which have been emotionally draining and are most definitely taking a toll on our overall well-being.
Parents need to remember they are people too and everyone deserves the careful and intentional support that we have been giving to our children. Making time for respite, education, inspiration, and having a community of other parents with whom we can connect is important so we, as parents, can turn with a smile to one more "Mom or Dad!".
That is why a team of parents and educators at JCC Chicago have put together a Parent Survival Guide series of FREE programs created by parents for parents. Courses have been customized to be inclusive of all. We want to create a safe space for parents to share, listen, and learn. These programs are intended to give you a much-needed break and time dedicated to your own mental health.
We know we are all weathering the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. If you are looking for support as a single or coupled parent or guardian, there is a community and safe space for you. There are also expert speakers intended to help you nurture your relationship with your partner, yoga sessions to remind you to breathe, art classes for grandparents and grandchildren to do together, and drop-in story times for kids so you can step away and take a break.
While I am continuously reminded of how incredibly resilient we are as a society, I also know we couldn't get through these times without relying on our village, without one another. We are all in the process of becoming-becoming better parents, partners, friends, colleagues, and so much more. Join JCC Chicago on this journey, and others looking for support and connection.
Register for any, or all of these FREE programs at
Becoming a Soulful Parent
Sunday, January 10 at 2pm CST
Circle Time with Rena for Preschoolers
Sundays January 10 - February 28 at 10am CST
Single Parent Drop-In Support Group
Wednesdays, January 13 - February 10 at 8:30pm CST
Judgement-Free Zone Parent Support Group
Wednesdays, January 13 - February 10 at 8pm
Couples' Connection: How to Cultivate a Fulfilling Relationship Through Covid and Beyond
Saturday, January 30 at 9pm CST
Grand Artists for Grandparents & Grandchildren
Sunday, January 31 at 2pm CST
Sundays, February 7-28 at 9am CST
JCC Chicago is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.
Rachel Schwartz, LCSW, is the Director of Social Services for Early Childhood at JCC Chicago.