Back in May, one of Hollywood’s most relatable mamas, Kristen Bell, announced that she was done with distance learning because it was making her daughters (5-year-old Delta and 7-year-old Lincoln) miserable. So Bell ripped up the homeschool schedule and did what was best for her family.
Homeschool didn’t work for Bell’s kids so she is relieved that real school is back in session… but she is exhausted. She recently posted a selfie with her pup, Frank, noting that: “It’s only day 2 of school and Frank and I are exhausted.”
That’s because even if your kids are doing in-person school this year, it’s gonna be a little different and a little more demanding of parents. Take Bell’s family for example. They live in California, where some school districts are reopening physically and others aren’t. Bell didn’t get into specifics about whether her kids are going to physical school, doing distance learning or following a hybrid model, but either way it’s hard. Every possibility is hard right now.
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According to Bradford Wiles, a child development specialist at Kansas State University, it’s really important for parents like Bell (and even more important for those who have fewer resources than she does) to admit how incredibly hard this back-to-school season is and ask for help when you need it.
“What I really want parents to recognize is that it’s a challenge and they need to be able to take care of themselves and forgive themselves for things they can’t control or stay on top of,” Wiles explains.
“Essentially, we just pile on these different roles and responsibilities and no one person can handle all those things,” Wiles says. “It’s just not healthy. There’s a reason we sent kids to school before the pandemic and part of that is that it’s really burdensome for adults to be tied to their homes during the day.”
Wiles adds that right now, kids are also kind of exhausted and don’t know what to expect so any way you can make a routine (without stressing yourself out) will be helpful, no matter what your school district is doing.
“The best thing I can say for parents and primary caregivers is that regardless of whether you are doing a remote learning model, a homeschooling model or a hybrid model, the best thing you can do for your children is to establish and maintain routines. That will help them in all the domains of learning because it gives them an idea of what to expect.”
And society, partners and employers are also going to have to expect something for a while: Exhausted mamas. If even Kristen Bell is tired, what chance do the rest of us have? You’ve got this, but remember to give yourself a little extra grace, mama.