Adapting as a family; rolling with the changes during COVID-19 pandemic

PULLMAN, Wash. — Social distancing can take a toll. Concerns surrounding COVID-19 have impacted how we interact with one another and the way we tackle our daily routines.

Washington State University students and faculty are feeling those changes Monday. It’s their first day of learning completely online.

For the Cooney family, they’re adapting to learning from home, as well as teaching from home. Both parents are instructors at WSU. Their world has changed a lot over the past couple weeks. Though, they remind us that learning doesn’t always happen in a classroom.  Even when we’re stuck in our own homes for the time being. There is always something to learn, to teach and to contribute.

Chris and Rebecca Cooney teach at the Murrow College at WSU. Together, they parent four kids. Two are in college and two are in high school. Just weeks ago, their household was a bit quieter. 15-year-old Eli was busy with Robotics Club at Pullman High School. However, those competitions have been cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns.

“It’s big loss for them, that’s basically their sport, that’s their major extracurricular,” Rebecca said.

17-year-old Zak had a packed schedule as well. He’s very involved in extracurricular activities at Pullman High School, and recently he was part of his school’s play.

“He is playing LeFou in ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and they only got to perform twice,” Rebecca said.

“Our son in high school also runs track, so he just had this full schedule, doing a lot of work, then suddenly, he’s just at home,” Chris said.

The two oldest kids in the family were out of the house and studying at college. One was at Western Washington University in Bellingham and one was at the University of Washington in Seattle. Now, they’re back home in Pullman because of COVID-19 concerns with their parents, who are now also teaching from home.

“Combination of fun and interesting going from being half-empty nesters to now being a very full nest,” Chris said.

It’s a full house that is full of knowledge, because the Cooneys want this to be a time of learning, not so much lounging.

“We’re finding this really important just to give everybody a purpose,” Rebecca said.

Their kids are getting to watch their parents work.

“To remember this time when I’m older, and remember the values that I’ve learned so that I can apply them to my adult life,” said Sawyer Moss, WWU student working from home.

And vice versa, because now Chris and Rebecca are learning more about their children with everyone at home.

“Its a tremendous opportunity, because now we’re getting to know these kids at a different stage in life,” Rebecca said.

Both Chris and Rebecca want to make sure their kids are challenged and are contributing.

“We have a rotating chart that we do chores around the house, we help out with groceries and we help with making meals,” Moss said.

They might not be in a classroom, but the Cooneys are making sure their kids never stop learning.

“That’s what we’re doing during this time. We’re trying to teach these things that you can’t do during a two-week Christmas break,” Rebecca said.

The Cooneys said teaching at home has been great for their family as well, because now their kids are starting to understand and respect what they do and teach everyday. That might be an idea for your family, if you’re also working from home. Show your kids some of the things you work on while you’re at the office and they’re at school. That way, your family can learn a little but more about each other.