MINNEAPOLIS — These days the world can seem overwhelming at times, especially for people who care for kids — like parents, teachers and daycare providers.
So, we wanted to give them all a voice to share their stories and their struggles.
KARE 11’s Gordon Severson sat down with three local mothers and preschool providers to hear their take on the situation we currently find ourselves in.
Gordon: How would you describe the last couple of weeks?
Kathy Petersen (Mother of Three Kids): It’s been crazy. I’ve never looked at my phone so many times for emails and text messages from schools letting us know what today is going to bring.
Lyndsi Olinger (Preschool Teacher): It’s been more than stressful. It’s been mentally exhausting, mentally challenging.
Laura Johnsrud (Owner of Primrose Preschool in Rogers): It’s been overwhelming. It’s been brutal.
Gordon: What are some of the biggest challenges that you’re facing?
Lyndsi: Staff shortages. You know, it’s just us. We don’t have staff here and the classroom is shut down because of COVID. Our staff is out, our kids are out, and we’re trying to pick up the slack.
Laura: It’s devastating to see the impacts to our families. We’re watching families break down when we have to turn them away or tell them that they’re quarantined and it’s very difficult to have to do that.
Kathy: For me, it’s just balancing everything and making sure everyone’s needs are met and all the kids are happy.
Gordon: Is it overwhelming at times?
Kathy: One-hundred-percent it is overwhelming at times.
Laura: Absolutely overwhelming.
Lyndsi: Yeah, you even forget to do things like take care of yourself and grab a drink of water.
Gordon: Is there a lot of pressure to kind of be that rock?
Laura: You don’t sleep at night very much, so, it’s hard.
Lyndsi: You work here at school and then you have to go home and still be that rock and to remember to smile and be happy and hug your family.
Gordon: Do you feel yourself getting mentally worn down at times?
Kathy: I do. It has been increasingly important to make time for self care on a daily basis.
Lyndsi: Some days you want to quit and that’s really hard because you can’t quit.
Laura: It feels like 24-hour days at times.
Gordon: Is there almost a feeling of fear or anxiety picking up your phone? Because you’re just waiting for that message that says someone has been exposed, or they’re closing down school, or closing down daycare?
Laura: It’s like PTSD. It’s terrifying, it really is, because you know there’s no good news on the other side.
Kathy: For me it’s more like the emails. It’s like, "Oh, God, what am I going to see today?"
Lyndsi: When we see parents come in and they are crying in front of us and they’re looking at us saying, "I don’t know what to do. I just got off of maternity leave and now you’re telling me I have to go back home with my child and I’m back on leave again," and they don’t have any PTO, they don’t have any money coming in. It’s just so important for people to know that they’re not alone and we feel their frustration and we are in the same exact boat as them.
Gordon: Looking into the future, are you hopeful?
Lyndsi: We’ve gotta have hope that this is going to get better.
Kathy: We can hope for it. There’s nothing wrong, there’s no harm in hoping, but also being very real about the happenings and the goings on in the world right now.
Laura: You know, we wouldn’t be here every day doing what we do if we weren’t hopeful, and we didn’t see another side to this.
Gordon: What would you say to other parents who are going through the same thing right now?
Kathy: Reach out when you need to vent and try to keep your chin up and make time for self care.
Lyndsi: We understand everything you are going through. We validate all of those feelings. Please don’t give up on us. Don’t give up on your daycares and preschools.
Laura: We’re a community and we just have to hang in there together.
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