My kids’ school has been closed for a little over two weeks now because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Although our school had no confirmed cases, it was one of the first in our county to close. Even though I am grateful for our school’s smart decision to respond quickly, nothing in the world could have prepared me for sheltering in place with my 7-year-old and 10-year-old.
And Just Like That, All Mothers Became Homeschool Teachers
A few days after our school informed us that they would be implementing Distance Learning, a term I had never heard of before COVID-19 to be honest, I went to the school to collect my children’s’ belongings — while staying six feet away from any teacher or staff member. As I drove back home, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw my backseat filled with math workbooks, religion books, binders, and notebooks galore. That’s when it began to really sink in that I was going to be my children’s teacher indefinitely. I was about to embark on homeschooling, something I had never in my life thought I’d do, mostly because I had no desire to. That’s when I had my first panic attack.
I was about to embark on homeschooling, something I had never in my life thought I’d do, mostly because I had no desire to.
Being a teacher is a huge responsibility and requires a lot of time and patience, two things that many mothers are already short on. Both of my children are good students, but they require a lot of attention, guidance, and support, especially my 10-year-old. She has ADHD and has classroom accommodations put in place for her at school. Before this pandemic, she’d fight me on every homework assignment. Now, she fights me on every single school assignment, all day long. Trying to simultaneously teach second grade and fifth grade literally takes me the entire day. This is, no joke, a full-time job, and, by the end of the day, mothers like me are completely exhausted and in desperate need of a break from our kids.
But there are no breaks from our kids. Not anymore.
Being a Working Mom during the Pandemic
For mothers who are working from home while homeschooling their children, their stress levels are skyrocketing right now. They are essentially trying to perform two full-time jobs in the same space at the same time to the best of their ability. They are adjusting to working remotely and trying their best to not fall behind at work while juggling their life at home with their family. Not only are their boss, coworkers, and clients counting on them, their children are too, in many more ways than usual.
As stressful as it is, mothers who are able to work from home are lucky. For the many mothers whose places of employment have closed because of Coronavirus and are out of a steady paycheck, it’s so much worse. They now have so many more worries about their finances and their family.
Nothing beats the stress level of a mother who is an essential worker right now. Whether they are a nurse or a grocery store cashier, both are heroes in my book.
But nothing beats the stress level of a mother who is an essential worker right now. Whether they are a nurse or a grocery store cashier, both are heroes in my book. They are on the front lines for their entire country, risking their health and sacrificing their time with their family, who really needs them right now.
We're Taking Care of Our Parents and Our Children
On top of homeschooling, managing work, and completing regular household responsibilities, many mothers have other stress-inducing factors in their life right now. Many are worried about their parents, who are seniors and thus are at a higher risk of having more severe complications from COVID-19. In our very little spare time now, we are doing grocery shopping for our parents, running errands for them, and constantly checking in on them.
We are having to deal with the heartbreak of our children and us not being able to spend quality time with them anymore. Sunday dinners have been replaced with Zoom meetings, and those big bear hugs from Grandpa have been replaced with sending a hug emoji. We are living in a virtual world now, and I for one absolutely hate it. Although I talk to my mom every day, whether it’s via FaceTime, text, or a phone call, absolutely nothing comes close to her warm embrace.
Additionally, we have to be strong and hold it together for our children’s sake. If they see us panicking or crying, they will no doubt follow our lead. We have to be brave for our children and not let on that we are internally freaking out and going out of our minds with not knowing what will happen next.
I believe our children have the right to know why they can’t go to school, but it’s our job to filter the news and only let them know what they can handle.
We want to be informed about what is going on and we do this by listening to the news, but we have to be careful not to expose our children to too much of it. I believe our children have the right to know why they can’t go to school, have a birthday party, or visit Grandma and Grandpa, but it’s our job to filter the news for them and only let them know what we think they can handle.
There is no doubt about it — sheltering in place and social distancing are tough on every single person right now. We’re all doing our best to make this new way of living work for us and our families. This transition has been difficult and stressful for me, but all I can do is take it one day at a time. That’s all any of us can do.
During this time, I would advise everyone to give themselves some grace, especially if you’re a mother. You have never been through anything like this before and you’re doing your best. Someday when your kids are grown, they will look back on this time and remember how strong, brave, and determined their mother was. Remember that you’re their rock, their safe place, now their teacher, and forever their loving mother.
You got this.