I don’t know if I should send my child back to school—and it’s crushing me with anxiety

Each option feels like I am sacrificing something important.

I don’t know if I should send my child back to school—and it’s crushing me with anxiety

Motherhood comes with a boatload of decisions. I knew that when I signed up for the job. Typically I rely on science, recommendations from experts, advice from trusted friends, relatives and the best online mom group ever. Now, in the age of COVID-19, I'm making decisions I'd never thought I'd need to make with little direction. And, on top of it all, I know I'm not alone.

Currently, I'm choosing what my upcoming first-grader's education will look like.

Do I send him to school in person?

Do I keep him home and attempt to help him with e-learning?

What about choosing to homeschool independently?

Should we try an established virtual-only school?

Making this decision is the epitome of being between a rock and a hard place.

I always thought decisions regarding his education would be simple—whether to send him to public or private school and maybe which electives to participate in. Now, I'm balancing his mental, emotional and physical well-being. Now, I'm weighing educational opportunities against the risk of sickness. The weight of making this decision is crushing.

I'm privileged that I have a choice to make. I work full-time for a progressive company, which allows me to choose what's best for my family. That includes being able to continue to work remotely. My boss is understanding, providing me with the flexibility to meet the demands of being a professional and a mother. Also, our local school district is doing an amazing job at giving us choices. They're doing everything in their power to ensure all the children in the district receive an education.

Personally, I immediately ruled out homeschooling because I'm not meant to be a teacher. To put it very bluntly: I do not have the patience. I also ruled out full virtual schools because they require daily parent interaction. Even with all the flexibility, I cannot realistically work while also teaching.

So, I'm left with two choices: Traditional school or e-learning.

Our e-learning option has three major flaws: limited education, limited social interaction and time constraints. The district will only cover math, English, and language arts through the program. They will provide free learning materials for other subjects, but it will not be a comprehensive education. E-learning also presents a limit to socialization. Young children learn and grow through play and he'll miss all of that. Then there is the issue of time. Like homeschooling and virtual schools, e-learning with a first grader requires a lot of reliance from an adult.

I can send my son to the babysitter's house, where she also has an upcoming first-grader doing the exact same work. I know her family is being safe and she will offer supplemental work for classes not covered by the school. The downfall here is that socialization doesn't grow beyond the sitter's children.

Alternatively, I could send him to his old day care, where they're trying out a new classroom, providing a licensed teacher to assist up to 10 kids with online work. I'd have someone to help him with school, he'd get social interaction, but would be exposed to more children, though much less than an entire elementary school. Both options come at a financial cost and sacrifice. And the cost to his education would mean losing the opportunity to join a gifted language arts program he was invited to participate in.

The other option is in-person school. It would provide comprehensive education and socialization, but it would not be the same. There will not be big groups on the playground. Classroom group work will be limited. Even lunch isn't going to be very social with distant seating or classroom lunches. Most of all, it comes at a cost too—his exposure to other children and, potentially the virus..

Our district has buses with three kids to a seat. Classrooms hold close to 30 kids. The school board has required masks for all students and staff, in line with the local mandate, but it may not be enough with this amount of close interaction. Beyond the limiting time in hallways, encouraging more car-riders, and staggering lunches, there is not a lot more the school can do. The exposure risk feels high.

While my immediate family is low-risk, what about my mother-in-law? She is one of the few people we've allowed in our circle of people, but she is high-risk. What about the sitter's family, who will still be exposed to his little brother daily?

Each option feels like I am sacrificing something important. It feels monumental for his education as first grade is an important foundational year, especially after losing half a year of kindergarten. But health and peace of mind are equally weighing. I'm not making the decision alone, but it plagues me daily, crushing me with anxiety. How do I get him the best education while keeping everyone healthy and happy? Factoring everything in, we still don't have a decision, and school is back in session very, very soon.

I know I'm not alone when I say, I don't know what to do, and that is something that keeps me up at night right now. Parenting is full of decision-making that we are not always certain on, I just hope I make the right decision for my son.

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.


Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.


Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.


Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.


boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.


Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.


Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.


Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this


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