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  • Writer's pictureRachel Chin

Take a load off, parents

I can’t even begin to describe the level of effort required to stay sane while my kids are in remote school. We gave up on headphones pretty early on when our boys hated how they felt and broke two pair within a week. In between the non-stop noise of multiple and simultaneous school and work conversations, videos and learning app jingles (I particularly loathe the one that makes a buzzing mosquito sound after every problem), is a non-stop bevy of questions and requests from my kids.

“Mom, how do you spell music?” I walk over and write it down for him because I know it’ll take longer for me to spell it out loud five times while he pecks it out on the keyboard. Just as I get back to whatever I was doing before the interruption, I hear, “Mom, I meant cookie! How do you spell cookie?”

“Mo-omm, are you bringing a snack soon?” Yes, of course, I will, but you just finished breakfast 15 minutes ago and morning meeting just started, so it’s gonna be a little bit.

“Mom, I don’t understand this math problem!” Did you read the instructions? Have you asked your teacher for help? Ok, stop wallowing in your blanket on the floor and let’s look at it together.

I look forward to my part-time job because it gives me an excuse to neglect my children. I say that as a joke, but I definitely do feel more justified telling my kids to “figure it out on your own, mom’s not available” when I’m on the clock. My kids actually think I work full-time, they just assume some work days are more intense than others. I don’t correct them. It’s easier this way.

When I’m not working for my day job, I feel compelled to assist with my kids’ every school need, along with housework and bills and cooking and laundry. The result is that I often feel scattered and overwhelmed and like I didn’t accomplish anything for the day. I also swing through about 47 levels of emotion per day, from sheer desperation while trying to get my kid focused on classwork to a spontaneous dance party when someone finally has an ‘aha’ moment of learning.

I hear similar stories from my friends and neighbors, so I know we are all struggling with this remote school thing. It helps to know that this daily labor of love and circumstance is not unique to me alone.

I am grateful to the people who have shared their remote school woes with me and who have listened to my own. What I love about the exchange of our tales is how much we LAUGH at our situations. To share our aggravations out loud (or in writing) puts things into a different perspective and allows us to gently make fun of ourselves and each other while simultaneously feeling less alone.

I’m trying to do more of what my dad used to say: “take a load off.” Sit down with a friend, via Zoom, over the backyard fence or wherever I feel safe, and swap a story or two.

Maybe my description of an exasperating day is exactly what someone else needs to hear, in order to feel validated in their own efforts. And sharing it will sure help take a much-needed load off of me, as well.


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