Menu

We don't doubt the importance of school and learning—whatsoever. I think most parents are feeling extra grateful for the teachers, aides and other school staff members in their children's lives these days.

But we also don't doubt the amount of emotional, physical and mental labor that is placed on mothers around the world right now due to the coronavirus pandemic. With many workplaces closed, no childcare, no school, no activities, mothers are being asked to not only continue maintaining their workload, but also to teach their child(ren), set up and maintain their Google classroom/FaceTime call schedule/Zoom meeting calendars, as well as cook, clean, do laundry, order groceries or go grocery shopping and attempt to care for ourselves on top of all that.

FEATURED VIDEO

Even if we are quarantined with partners to help at home—which not everyone is—the work and worry load piled on us right now is not normal, not okay and frankly, not all doable.

We're finding that some things have to go, or fall by the wayside to keep our families afloat.

This week, Sarah Parcak, mother, Egyptologist, professor and author of Archaeology From Space, announced that for her family, it was keeping up with her son's virtual classroom. She spoke the truth many moms are feeling—that survival and the well-being of their family members are paramount right now. And for many of us, that does not include keeping up with classwork.

She tweeted:

"We just wrote a hard email. I told our son's (lovely, kind, caring) teacher that, no, we will not be participating in her "virtual classroom", and that he was done with the 1st grade. We cannot cope with this insanity. Survival and protecting his well-being come first.

"Don't any of you dare offer help or resources. We both work full time, I also help run my non profit AND manage a complex project in Egypt AND am running a Covid-19 tracking platform. So, his happiness trumps crappy math worksheet management.

"ie, managing his education is a bridge too far right now. I also cook, manage cleaning, have a garden etc (husband does 50% of housework BTW, we are a team). The thought of homeschooling makes me want to barf. It's a f*cking joke.

"He reads a lot. Plays outside a lot. We read to him a lot and talk to him a lot. He gets history lessons. There is an app where he can choose books to be read to him. We watch a fun movie every night. He plays playmobile with my husband (mega imagination)

"Our goal is to have our son come out of this happy and not be long term emotionally scarred (lord knows life will do that anyways).

"PS You do what's right for your family and mental health. Obviously kids 10+ can cope better with independent work (sometimes). The littles cannot.

"I give you permission to Let It All Go. It doesn't matter. School doesn't matter right now. All your kids will remember is how they were loved. Promise."

Parents from all over the interwebs chimed in both agreeing and disagreeing with Parcak. Reasons for opting out of the virtual classroom (or maybe just relieving the pressure of it and doing what they can) ranged from not having a printer available to them in order to print the many worksheets, working full-time and not being able to manage all of the classwork with them, having children with special needs, having children in different grade and skill levels, not having access to laptops and other resources—the reasons ran the gamut.

Some parents are focusing mostly on life skills.


While other families are enjoying the focused time they are able to get their kids involved in the virtual classroom.

But many families don't have access to laptops or desktop computers, which is unfair and problematic.

And many teachers are saying take note, Moms and Dads—the pressure is on them, too.

Countless teachers and counselors chimed in to let parents know that they understand and they support them in doing what's best for their families.




After reading messages accusing Parcak of not appreciating teachers, she took to Twitter again to clarify the fact that she is very appreciative of them, stating in fact that she "cannot do what they do."

Same, Sarah. Same.

I think it's safe to say that none of us really know what we're doing right now. We're sort of flying by the seat of our pants, and that's kind of all we can do.

We're doing the best we can in a really weird, busy and scary time—parents, teachers and most especially, our kiddos, too.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

FEATURED VIDEO

The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

FEATURED VIDEO

Keep reading Show less
Life