Parenting while studying: the realities of a college student with a child during the shelter-in-place order

Allison Harris

The changes UMKC students have faced from Kansas City’s current shelter-in-place order have been hard to deal with. Many students are without campus, housing or food from the dining hall, or have lost jobs and are unable to pay their rent. 

Some are having to deal with all these changes and more—students with their own children are now having to be full-time parents under self-isolation measures, on top of their own schoolwork and job responsibilities. 

Sunshine Aiono, a UMKC freshman and parent of a 12 year old, is currently in this position.

“Some days are much easier than others,” Aion said of her new school-at-home situation. “I think the workload is the same. I am relying heavily on zoom meetings, SI sessions and making more of an effort to stay informed through email.” 

On top of an already difficult transition to online learning, Aiono is settling into helping her daughter with her online schoolwork as well. 

“She has several different teachers [and] subjects just as I do,” Aiono said. “Each teacher is trying to come up with a routine and lesson plan that is accessible to the students. As a parent in school, I am trying to learn her routine as well as my own.”

Aiono described the way she has leaned into learning alongside her daughter as a challenge, but one she is approaching with thoughtfulness and the mental health of her family in mind. 

“I try not to get overwhelmed by looking at everything all at once and try to get a little better each day,” Aiono said. “I am teaching her the same approach I took in adjusting to online schooling as a template for her.” 

Aiono said the change has even brought her and her daughter closer in a way she didn’t expect—they are in the same boat now, and often tackle school together. Aiono said one of the things that has helped them both be successful is “…learning to accept her limitations and my own. [And] creating a safe space for us both to say “I don’t know,” and coming up with the resources to find the answers.”

It may be difficult for students to approach a transition to online learning with a positive attitude, but with Aiono’s love for her daughter and optimistic point of view, she said she has “learned more about [her] daughter in the last few weeks.” 

“I am constantly adjusting my approach from day to day, based on what is a priority and her mental health,” Aiono said. “Balance is an ongoing process, and I do my best to stay mindful.” 

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