These last few weeks, like many parents, I’ve been working at home while my two young children (ages four and one) are home with me. The first week, I had a plan: my four-year-old daughter and I made a new morning checklist together on a chalkboard and a daily schedule on a piece of printer paper that mirrored her preschool’s. I’d been inundated by “helpful” color-coded schedules from well-meaning family and friends that included things like circle time, question of the day, time to talk about the weather and the day of the week, just like her school did. And I thought, yes, I’ll work full-time and educate my kid, too, while she’s home with me!
And then, reality hit.
I teach writing at a local university, so I spent the first two weeks at home moving my face-to-face and hybrid courses fully online while my husband still had to occasionally go into the office for work. Then, after two weeks of “spring break,” my students returned for classes, and things got real. I had 128 assignments to grade. I had 90 students to check in on—some of whom had lost jobs, or their parents had, and they were unsure of how to deal with this whole online situation. And I had a million Blackboard folders to make.
I also had laundry to do. And food to stock up on. And my own health and sanity to maintain. So just a few days after I made that school-like schedule with my children, I abandoned it.
I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get the work done I needed to while trying to make my home into a school, even when my husband was also working from home and trying to do it along with me.
To the parents out there who are doing it—who have figured out how to home-school their kids and balance their jobs and household responsibilities and everything else—I salute you. You are a rockstar, and should keep on with your badass self.
But to those of you like me, who are too burnt out or overwhelmed to handle being your kids’ teacher on top of your full-time job—and have a choice about whether or not to do so—I think it’s okay for us to take a step back and let go a little. To use this time however we need to get through this.
And yes, I know it’s easy for me to make this argument as someone with young kids whose teachers aren’t sending required work home for them to do (though, to their credit, my daughter’s preschool is sending some pretty cool play-based stuff to do if we want it). My children aren’t learning crucial things in school right now like algebra or phonics. They aren’t taking the ACTs or MSAs. We have access to technology and food in the fridge and a few rolls of toilet paper left between us.
So yes, I get that it’s easy for me to say this, given my situation. And that we’re pretty lucky, considering.
But really, what I’m advocating for here is not for anyone to feel bad about how they’re getting through this weird time.
Rather, I just want us all to be kind to ourselves. And home-schooling, even for a few days, was making me, and my husband, not-so-kind.
So sure, keep the kids on something of a schedule. Get them outside and running around. (We’re doing “outdoor adventures” each morning where we try to find something new on our same old trail.) Read to them. Sing songs. Do crafts and bake together. Remember that children can—and do—learn through play.
But don’t stress yourself out over home schooling. We’ve got enough to worry about right now.