Additional Information

Site Information

View Cart
 Loading... Please wait...

New! Try our Frontier Blend Bone Broth Frontier Blend Broth

Reflections of an Overwhelmed Parent

Posted by Didi Gorman on

By Didi GormanDidi Gorman, Wise Choice Market's blog writer

Like many other parents these days, since the beginning of the lockdown I’ve been trying to establish some kind of a daily routine for the family: one that would allow me to keep working while, at the same time, ‘being there’ for the children in these trying times; and all this while attempting to keep on top of various projects that have been bottle-necked for a while now (preparing the garden for spring, changing the tires, rearranging the dressers with summer clothes, etc.).

How naïve on my part. How naïve to assume that super-mama can handle anything thrown in her path. Quarantine? School closures? Piles of laundry blocking the view? No problem at all. Super-mama to the rescue! Super-mama can teach, work, and preside over a family laundry activity in which each member happily does their part. In fact, she can handle all three tasks simultaneously. At least that is the theory.

But then, there is reality. And the reality is that I still work full-time, pandemic or not. I’m a writer working from home and that hasn’t changed with the advent of the lockdown. What HAS changed is that in addition to my regular work, my schedule now includes having to (very grudgingly, I admit) coerce the children into virtual studying (which is not suitable for everybody, I realize), as well as coming up with creative boredom-buster ideas.

Also, I see other parents posting pictures on social media of their families crafting lovely artwork together or baking together or spending so much quality time together and, I confess, I’m a little jealous. I don’t really get to do that as much as I would have wanted.

On the academic front, we keep getting emails from school telling us how important it is to keep our children’s brains in shape, and I couldn’t agree more. Four such emails have landed in my inbox so far this morning with so many suggested resources, worksheets, and links that it would require quite a bit of parental assistance to sort through it all, which only adds to my workload. (And no, two out of my three children will not sort through all this flood of information by themselves if I just left it to them, nor do they have their own email accounts, for that matter. It will have to go through me one way or another). To add to this, not all children enthusiastically embrace autonomous learning, so realistically, it’s quite likely I’ll need to help with the actual learning sessions too, assuming I first manage to read through all the instructions and check the suggested web sites.

But the dynamic at home suffers when a reluctant parent is obliged to supervise a reluctant child’s learning curriculum. (I’ll refrain from referring to it as ‘homeschooling’ given that I do not strictly speaking tutor my children.)

The reality is that my children have two full-time working parents. This means there’s only so much we can do. I just can’t afford to take time off work to supervise distance learning, nor can I take a break from my computer every time one of the children needs to use it for online studies.

The children are free to go on the internet and study if they wish (if the computer is available), but I will not force them into it, nor will I bully myself into the task of supervising three children’s curriculums. Sorry, no can do. If I now need to take this upon myself, I might as well forget about my work altogether.

No thanks. Let me be a mom. Not a teacher; not a tutor; not a supervisor, only a mom. I love being a mom.

Does this sound like I’m complaining or being ungrateful for the school system’s efforts to keep education alive and kicking?

Well, yes, I guess I am complaining, but the reason for my frustration is not school, but COVID, for putting us in this impossible situation. We all try to find our bearings and make the best of the situation in this crazy reality we’ve been thrown into; parents, teachers, schools, children, everybody.

Does this reluctance on my part to become a full-on administrator of my children’s online education as well as an entertainer for the length of the lockdown make me a bad mom who selfishly focuses on her job in these difficult times instead of caring for her family? I hope not. More likely an overwhelmed mom who’s torn between too many duties, who desperately tries to juggle between all the demands on her time and energy, feeling guilty and inadequate because her work and her children’s education are now at odds and are both severely compromised for reasons beyond her control and despite all her efforts.

But even with all this reasoning, I feel guilty still. What adds to the inevitable guilt is that I love my job. It gives me a sense of stability, an anchor of sorts, in this abnormal reality.

So while my children read books, watch TV or cook, draw, text their friends or play in the yard, go for a walk or snap pictures of whatever they find in the garden – none of which requires parental presence, and all of which is spontaneous – I work. They even go online from time to time to do some homework, impromptu and when they happen to feel like it, and mostly when I don’t insist. What does this tell me?

That perhaps we need to just let it be. Perhaps ‘riding it out’ without trying to assume the role of a super-parent – who can simultaneously work AND teach AND bake AND change tires, and do it all perfectly – is a better and more realistic path towards everybody’s well-being.

Stay safe, stay sane.