Mama, right now you are not experiencing "real" stay-at-home, homeschooling mom life. No. Because whatever we're doing right now, our "new normal" is SO much harder.
As a stay-at-home mom who dabbles in homeschooling (my oldest is only four at the moment), I know what that life is like. This is not it. Yes, being a stay-at-home mother can be difficult at times. So is homeschooling. But this is not that life. This is coronavirus life. This is isolation.
For all you working moms who are now at home with your children all day—this is not real stay-at-home life.
Before the coronavirus struck, being a stay-at-home mom meant spending time at playgrounds. It meant attending and hosting playdates. It meant visiting museums and other play places. It meant engaging with other moms and their kids. It was about community.
Hopefully you are enjoying this extra time with your family, but spending every waking minute with your partner and children is not typical of stay-at-home life. I don't think I've ever fully appreciated how much my son talks when he has no friends around. Now I'll never take those other kids for granted again.
For all those moms who are suddenly teaching their children at home—this is not real homeschooling.
Before the lockdown began, homeschooling often involved trips to the museum, library and to socialize with playgroups. No one was expected to mimic a classroom experience in our homes in our very limited free time. For a homeschooling mom, even if your own children were your only students, playdates gave children the chance to interact with their fellow classmates. And this is all before you consider the extracurricular activities in which many homeschooled children used to participate in—co-ops, gym or dance classes, sports, music, etc.
Homeschooling doesn't feel as excessively burdensome as most parents are currently finding quarantine-schooling. Most homeschooling parents actually enjoy teaching their children at home, if you can believe it.
I've seen so many posts on social media that focus on the stresses and difficulties of entertaining and educating our children during this time. I've seen mothers who have put together complex lesson plans for their kindergartners that involve freshly-baked bread, very intense art projects and science experiments purchased on Amazon.
Parents are terrified of letting their children down during this time. Afraid of failing them by failing to provide them with a proper education.
But here are a few helpful truths to keep in mind: You are doing so well, Mama. Life on lockdown is hard. We were not meant to live in isolation.
We were created to thrive in community. Our families are important, and this time together might be considered a gift when regular life often pulls us in all different directions, but we were meant to live in a larger community. Mothers were meant to bond with other mothers. Children were meant to play with other children. My kids like playing with me, but I know that they would much rather be playing with their friends.
Use this opportunity to teach your children how to be bored. Contrary to all those social media posts and YouTube videos out there, we are not responsible for entertaining our children every minute of this period of quarantine. Children are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves.
My kids have played with every toy in our house at this point and my daughter has probably "read" every book. I do spend some time playing with them, and we certainly do a lot of reading together, but I've also encouraged a lot of independent play. Babies and toddlers might need a bit of guidance in this department, but if my 4-year-old son approaches me because he's bored, I can respond by telling him to find something to play with, and usually, he will do just that.
Homeschooling should not be excessively burdensome. Yes, it will require a bit of planning, but it shouldn't be an all-consuming project. If you enjoy baking and crafts, then go for it, but don't feel like every lesson needs to be its own Pinterest board.
And don't think that you need to homeschool for eight hours every day as if your child was enrolled in their regular school. Teachers spend the better part of their day giving directions, repeating directions, trying to keep the faster students occupied and the slower students from falling too far behind and transitioning between lessons. When it's just you and your kids, you can get down to the lessons much more quickly.
You don't need to fill those extra hours with extra work. Let your kids play outside for a bit instead or go for a nature walk. Call it gym class or science class if you feel so inclined.
This quarantine is not an accurate portrayal of life as a stay-at-home mom or a mom who homeschools her children. Self-isolation, even if it's necessary for the time being, is not a natural state for any human being. We were not meant to be alone. We weren't even meant to live as an isolated nuclear family unit. We were meant to live in a community.
This coronavirus life is so much harder than life as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. It is so hard, and yet—here we all are, doing it, living it. And you know what? You're doing a fantastic job.
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