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I Have Four Kids and I Am Failing at Remote Learning

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Before my feet even hit the floor each morning, I’ve already failed. Crowned with the impossible task of being “teacher mom” to my four kids, there is simply not enough of me to go around. Logistically, no matter how many schedules I write, organizational tools I try, or attempts to color code my children’s schedules, I cannot meet the educational needs of my four kids. I am not OK with that fact. It is a helpless feeling. Four kids, four unique schedules, three separate schools and three IEPs, I am drowning and no one is coming to save me.

Prior to COVID-19, social distancing and mask mandates, my role as mom and manager of our home was already overflowing with responsibilities. Transporting kids to therapy, counseling, special education preschool, advocating for their needs and running our household was my full-time job. Now, my job also includes being a full-time teacher.

It is not uncommon for us to finish remote learning after 7:30 p.m. Two of my children are in high school and everything counts. Attendance counts, assignments count, quizzes count, and choosing to let something go is choosing to have a zero in the grade book. I am managing about 30 different Zoom meetings each week. I feel like a summer camp director with my clipboard and daily schedule checking off the boxes as things get accomplished. Then, at the end of the day, I’m feeling like a failure when we barely make it through half of what needs to be done.

I bounce like a ping-pong ball, from one child, to another child, to another child. I go back and forth all day putting out fires, fixing technology issues, printing pages, reading textbooks, supervising homework and district assessments. I am so driven to help my children, I am teaching myself Algebra 2 in the evenings, so I can teach my oldest son the next day. He’s a mess. I am a mess. We are all a mess. I’ve cried more times than I can count, and we are only on day 15 of remote learning! I keep thinking, “I am not going to survive this.” I am just one mama, and I can’t do it all. Here’s the catch though… I am a trained, state-certified teacher, and this is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

I know I am not the only one dealing with the incredible stress of remote learning. Each one of us is fighting different battles. COVID-19 has presented many challenges to everyone. I am not only dealing with the mindboggling task of educating my children, but also struggling with my mental health. As a woman who battles with both anxiety and depression, these past seven months have been very taxing for me. Since beginning remote learning on September 2, my anxiety has increased along with feelings of depression, dread and feeling stuck. Now spending most my days inside remote learning, loneliness has set in. I am fighting to keep my head above water, and desperately longing for someone to throw me a lifeline.

Despite how grueling each day is, I keep showing up. The four little people who call me “Mom” need me to keep going. So I do. I don’t have an impressive blueprint for how I am going to navigate remote learning. My plan is simple. I will keep trying, even when this means I know I will fail. I will keep talking. I will keep sharing our story and experience. I will continue talking with my therapist on a weekly basis because I’ve gotten to the point where I know I need support from a professional. I will ask for help and communicate my needs, and I will accept any and all offers of help. If a friend offers to bring us dinner my answer is “yes.” If my mom wants to come over and fold all my laundry and do my dishes, my answer is “yes.” I will give myself grace and accept the fact that sometimes I will drop the ball during remote learning. Instead of worrying about my mistake, I will let it go. I will keep walking forward, focusing on one day at a time. One moment at a time. One foot in front of the other.

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This story originally appeared on Carissa’s blog.

Originally published: November 4, 2020
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