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Zoom fatigue is real and our kids are feeling it

Educational screen time and virtual playdates are burning kids out—so if you need to turn the computer and let your kids disconnect today, don't feel bad, mama.

Zoom fatigue is real and our kids are feeling it

We used to worry about whether kids were having too much recreational screen time, but these days parents aren't as worried when the kids ask to watch Netflix, but we are worried when they don't want to log onto Zoom.

Educational screen time and virtual playdates are burning kids out—so if you need to turn the computer off and let your kids disconnect today, don't feel bad, mama.

Zoom fatigue is real

Experts say it's understandable that kids are just "over Zoom" as the Huffington Post put it. Just like adults, kids are feeling what experts are calling Zoom fatigue. It's a real phenomenon that experts like Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor at Insead who studies sustainable learning told the BBC.

"The video call is our reminder of the people we have lost temporarily," he explains. "What I'm finding is, we're all exhausted; It doesn't matter whether they are introverts or extroverts. We are experiencing the same disruption of the familiar context during the pandemic."


Whether you're an adult connecting with colleagues virtually or a kid seeing classmates and friends through little squares on a screen, you're susceptible to Zoom fatigue.

Give kids the space to be sad

If your kid just cannot Zoom today, that's understandable, and so is the sadness they are feeling. As education reporter Nick Morrison writes for Forbes, children "are likely to have feelings of despair, fear and helplessness" right now, and parents need to be aware of this loss.

Nermeen Dashoush, an assistant professor of early childhood education at Boston University and chief curriculum officer at MarcoPolo Learning tells the Huffington Post that parents should resist the urge to rescue kids from these feelings. "I do think that sometimes as parents we try too much to try and make things better for our kids," says Dashoush. "A lot of research says, though, that what really helps is trying to help kids identify their feelings."

Skip the Zoom chat if you need to

Giving your kiddo the space to feel their feelings might mean taking a day off from the Zoom chats and letting them express themselves in another way. Experts actually recommend frequent Zoom breaks for adults, and if adults need a break so do kids. This digital world is exhausting.

Libby Sander, PhD, is a mom of two and an assistant professor of Organizational Behaviour at Australia's Bond University. Along with her colleague Oliver Bauman, an assistant professor in Bond's School of Psychology, Sander outlined why Zoom is so exhausting in a piece for The Conversation.

"Our brains can only do so many things consciously at once, because we have limited working memory. In contrast, we can process much more information unconsciously, as we do with body language," Sander and Bauman write. "Meeting online increases our cognitive load because several of its features take up a lot of conscious capacity."

Bottom line: Zoom is exhausting, even if it's just being used for a "playdate" and overdoing video calls may not actually be helpful for kids who are missing their pals.

So if you're finding your child has back-to-back video calls during the day, it's worth working with their teachers to create a schedule that allows for more breaks.

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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