Ahahahahaha if only it were that simple. I think child abandonment is frowned upon. And for the Karens who are starting to get up off their sofa to critique my parenting Imma tell you to go ahead and sit back down. I’m kidding. But I also can’t pretend that being Mrs. Mom 2-3 days per week is a walk in the park. Yes.. I knew I was signing up for a big ole’ responsibility when I decided to have a child. But what I didn’t sign up for was THIS. This whole.. hey there’s a pandemic going on and you can’t be in school so your responsibilities on a daily basis now include:
- Not catching the ‘Rona
- Not letting your child catch the ‘Rona
- Washing masks so everyone in the house has clean ones to wear when they leave the house
- Working full time
- Being a teacher 2-3 days per week
- Doing the dishes
- Putting those dishes away
- Ordering groceries
- Doing the laundry, which also includes folding and putting away (I mean..not in our house but..it’s the dream)
- Taking care of the world’s naughtiest dog
- Showering, with or without washing your hair because that should be a bullet point all by itself
- Washing your hair
Oh and somehow finding time to still exercise and put on makeup to actually look presentable every now and then. It’s a f*cking nightmare. And if that weren’t bad enough, every single person in your friend’s list on social media at some point in time is going to tell you that you’re doing the Whole. Thing. Wrong. Yep. How’s that for encouragement?
So what makes virtual learning so hard? Everything. You’re stuck trying to be a teacher.. and I’m not sure about you but I didn’t go to college to teach and I have the patience the size of an ant. So that, paired with my incredibly strong-willed child, who is 8 years old going on 18 who thinks he knows everything except how to find the root cause of a story, and Heaven forbid he listen to mom because she can’t possibly know, either.
I have lost my cool more times than I care to admit these past couple weeks. And I feel bad for Coop – even though he’s the driving force of my frustrations, I also get that it’s not quite his fault. But when I try to help him, he doesn’t listen to me. He gets even more frustrated which makes me more frustrated and then we end up having a screaming match and I’m sure the neighbors can hear us and I’m just waiting for that knock on the door from someone doing a well check.
Part of the problem is he’s navigating through multiple software programs that I’m not familiar with, and he doesn’t understand critical thinking nor the fact that he doesn’t need 10 tabs of the SAME PROGRAM open at the same time. He starts an assignment in tab one, doesn’t finish – moves on to a second software for assignment two, does half, goes back to assignment one but opens a new tab, gets bored, goes to assignment three, changes his mind and goes back to assignment two – opens a new tab.. and it’s enough to make me want to move to California except NOTHING is open in California right now so I might as well just stay put or go to Florida instead. But God, I love that little kid so much.
So. The whole thing is hard.
And while I definitely don’t have a solution for how to make things better, I did recently take to none other than Facebook (because let’s be real, we all love sharing our opinions about things on FB) to find out what the masses are doing to stay sane during this horrific time. Here’s the advice I received:
Growth Mindset Tips for Parents During At-Home Learning
Be Okay With Letting Them Make Choices
You have a list of the work your kids need to do – so let them decide what they want to start with. Giving them a sense of control over a pretty uncontrollable situation will help them. I’m not sure how it helps them, but it probably will and it sounds good, so hey.. I’m all about that.
Be Okay Asking for Help
Don’t try to be supermom. Have someone else help. Whether it’s grandma who comes one day a week and takes over the teaching duties (hint hint, family members..I’m looking at you) , or even if you hire someone to come in and act as a teacher or tutor so you can focus on work that needs to get done. Learn what you’re good at and have someone else help with the rest. It takes a village sometimes, and there’s no shame in asking for help.
It’s Okay to be Structured; Not That Way? Create Structure
Sticking to a routine or schedule can be incredibly helpful when they’re young and having to navigate something new. Keep your day as structured as possible, and if you can, make your schedule similar to the schedule they would follow at school. Have designated times for lunch, “recess,” and breaks. Set timers for specific projects so they know they have a certain amount of time to get assignments done.
Schedule 2 hours of Alone Time Each Week
Don’t neglect yourself. Alone time, or time spent doing something YOU enjoy is huge. Get out of the house and away from your family, trust me. That time spent by yourself is crucial to your mental health, and we all need to break free and just breathe every now and then. Go to the gym, go to the movies (if you’re allowed to), go walk around Target (but don’t forget your mask), just do something to show yourself a little love each week.
Shots, Shots, Shots
I mean… whatever floats your boat. I’m currently going through a period in my life where I don’t really drink, but I don’t judge those who do. And according to my FB post, quite a few of you do. HA! For some, a glass of wine is just what’s needed at the end of a stressful day. For others, it’s a comfy bed and reality tv. I think the overall takeaway from this is do something that makes you relax. If it’s having a margarita, have that margarita (maybe just not at 8 am). If it’s escaping to a quiet bathroom and taking a hot bath while reading a book and lighting some candles, do that. If it’s laying in bed at night scrolling through pictures of the Real Housewives with 80s hair styles on Instagram and sending them to your friend Gabi, cool. But find something that helps you relax and relieves some of that daily stress you’re carrying around on your shoulders and in your deepening forehead wrinkles.
Cry it Out – Both of You
There’s nothing more therapeutic than a good old fashioned cry session. When it gets hard, it’s okay to cry. And it’s okay to let your kids see you cry. Let them cry, too. When you’re little and you’re trying to learn how to deal with your emotions sometimes the only thing to do is cry. Heck, when you’re 35 and trying to learn how to deal with your emotions sometimes the only thing to do is cry. Let it out, and let them know it’s okay to feel all the things they’re feeling.
Embrace the Great Outdoors
As often as you can. If you can do your learning outside, go remote. If you can do something educational away from the computer; like going for a hike or visiting a museum, do those things. Even if you just want to sit outside and throw a ball around for a little bit, or go for a bike ride, the sunshine and fresh air will do ya’ll some good.
Recognize When It’s Time to Step Away
From school work, from your to-do list, and from each other. Recognizing when emotions are high and there doesn’t seem to be a readily available solutions, sometimes you just need to walk away for a few minutes and regroup. Learn those signs and learn when to apply a time out. Come back when you’re both more calm and ready to sit down again and tackle the problem.
For patience, for guidance, for strength. For a winning lottery ticket. I mean…hey. There’s no limit on the power of prayer.
I know I’ve been complaining a lot lately – I’m not a perfect person, but in all honesty I realize I have so much to be thankful for. Our country is in complete disarray and if the worst part of my day is having to explain sentence structure to an 8 year old then I’ve got it pretty good. But.. I also recognize that it’s okay to feel annoyed, tired, overwhelmed, and ready to just get back to normal.. even if things may not really be back to the normal we’ve been used to. All I know is I’ll never scrimp on the teacher’s appreciation gift ever again.
It’s super easy to get burned out when you’re teaching your kids at home, or even when you’re working from home. For more tips on how to stay organized and avoid burnout, check out this post.