When we first started distance learning back in March, I thought to myself, “I’ve got this.” I’m pretty computer savvy, I make online teaching resources and teach fifth grade full time, and I consider myself to be an organized person. I figured the teacher/parent balance would be easy.
I was completely wrong.
Distance learning while being a teacher and a mom is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
The Difference Between Teaching Students and My Own Children
I have two boys, ages 5 and 6. My six year old is finishing kindergarten this year and five year old will start kindergarten in the fall. I didn’t think it would be hard to teach my own boys at home when we started distance learning, but what I’ve learned is that my children are much better listeners at school.
Getting my kindergartner to complete assignments online started as a battle. Listening to online videos, playing online games, and listening to my directions are just not as engaging as being in his kindergarten classroom. I even tried to take the video lessons and teach them myself. The response? “That’s not how my teacher does it.”
Over the course of the first few weeks, I realized it wasn’t worth the constant battle. I decided I would rather spend quality time with my kids reading and engaging activities that would enable us to enjoy each other’s company. That being said, the other day my son, Jake, FaceTimed with one of his kindergarten friends. The friend asked how his schoolwork was going.
Jake responded, “Well, we’re not really doing it that often!”
I couldn’t help but laugh, but then the reality set in when I pondered his statement …
Bring on the Mom Guilt
When I finally got past the point of feeling okay with my children completing what I thought was essential and what would cause less stress, I started feeling guilty. I spent a lot of time creating my Google Classroom for my fifth graders, responding to parent messages, and hosting Google Meet sessions. I started feeling guilt that I spent too much time on my classroom and not enough time with my boys.
Finding a balance while distance learning as a teacher and mom is very difficult. The irony of this whole situation was that I had finally found my “groove” in my teacher/parent balance. But, being thrown into a distance learning/safer at home life totally threw me for a loop. I thought it would enable us to spend more time together as a family, but I found myself spending even more time working on schoolwork. As soon as I figured out that it was okay for me to not “sweat the small stuff” for my son’s kindergarten work, that’s when I realized that my fifth graders’ parents are probably feeling the same way. It was time to scale back on what I assigned to them, too.
We’ve Never Done This Before
I know we’re all learning as we go. And we all want what is best for our students and our own children. I received messages from my child’s teacher checking in with us because she noticed our work wasn’t being “turned in” on Google Classroom.
I received messages from colleagues asking why I was allowing students to skip assignments.
But I also received messages from parents thanking me for giving their children less work and more time. And I am also enjoying being happy and engaged with my own two boys at home doing activities that cause less stress.
I know I am stressed, so I am trying to do what I can to make others less stressed. We are all overwhelmed. If our children don’t meet EVERY SINGLE STANDARD while distance learning during a PANDEMIC … it is okay.
We have never done this before, and I think the most important thing to remember as a teacher mom during distance learning is that our kids are looking to us to see how we react, how we cope, and how we support their emotional needs through it all.
If you are a parent, how are you balancing the teacher/parent balance? Join us in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE to discuss.