The overwhelm of working, parenting and at home learning

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We can do this virtual remote learning, right?

I’m talking to you working moms of young kids. RIGHT?! I’m still trying to figure it all out and not lose my mind over everything and still do my job. Not gonna lie though, I’m pretty stressed and worried alot. But I’m grateful for an employer and a leadership team who are understanding and supportive of their employees in such unprecedented times.

We are all going through this facing different challenges with virtual at-home learning. I literally heard one of our top leaders (a veteran and a woman) say in a call the other day “I empower you to do what you need to help your kids”…or something that like that. Empowered. Yes, I do feel empowered. Thankfully. Not everyone I know outside of our company feels this way. Most, but not all.

Virtual learning and how to navigate this new world

Here in Arizona, we started remote online learning for public schools in the last 2-3 weeks. Where we are in Flagstaff, we just wrapped up our third week of school. For our 6-year-old (first grader), we chose to group with 3 other kids in a small learning pod. My son and his friend are in one class and the other two kids are in another class, but the same school. The new term of 2020…learning pods!

Thankful for my tribe of mom friends with flexible work schedules and a recent NAU grad (local university) we hired who is willing to work and guide our kids through the day. Because no, first-graders can’t do this on their own. And being on zoom and having class through an iPad is hard. It’s hard and I don’t like it and neither does my kiddo. And I’m sure the teachers don’t either (but PS, I’m seeing some amazingness happen with them, BRAVO teachers!) But it’s what we have to deal with. What a strange time we are living in.

And then my 6th grader, 11 years old, working independently in his room every day. He has 8 classes at his public charter arts and leadership school to manage and to be honest, it’s alot to deal with in this new world. He has four 40 min zoom classes a morning from 8:40-11:45, ultimately attending each of his 8 classes 2 or 3 times a week, dependent on the week. After an hour break, he gets the afternoons to work on his own on assignments that in a pre-Covid world, he would be doing in class. I like the way they are doing this.

He’s managing surprisingly well but I’m so sad for him, missing out on the great energy on his particular campus (foundationally built on the arts so music, theater, art, etc. so you can just imagine the creativity oooozing there) and the transition into 6th grade (which is already difficult in person). And fortunately, or not, he’s not terribly tech savvy. So just think about that learning curve as well. We have a lot of frustrating days together.

Canvas, Zoom and Email, Oh My!

There’s a lot of new technology my 6th grader is navigating and learning, and he needs help. I hear “Moooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmm HELP!!” often throughout my day. It interrupts phone calls and when I’m in the zone working on something or writing an email. And it’s also easier to ask mom in the next room for help than email his teacher and wait, when he’s stuck or needs help. So there’s that. Some days it takes me 3x as long to get something for work done. I’m working later because of it. It’s all pretty exhausting. But I want him to succeed.

Fortunately, my first grader is gone with his pod at another house 4 days a week. He’s only here for Friday mornings. And with my VERY demanding job, whereas I can be on conference calls anywhere from 4-6 hours a day on average, I am mostly unavailable, so the pod is the way to go for us. Friday mornings I try to sit with him at the kitchen table and work and if I’m on calls, my mom will sit with him. And that’s about all I can handle.

Is it fall break yet? Asking for a friend…

If I’m being really honest, I cannot wait until the kids are back on campus. But who knows when that will be. I hope Arizona keeps up the good work of mask-wearing in public, social distancing, and restricting who they are around. It’s working. I see it in the case numbers here, where we are seemingly back down to where we were in April (according to the AZ Dept of Health COVID website). However, I’m nervous about the flu season and the additional challenges that might bring and how it may keep our kids doing school virtually at home for longer than we’d like.

This has been the longest and hardest and most emotionally challenging 6 months of my life as a working mom with two young kids. I know, it’s just a chapter, a season of life, and it will end. But it cannot end soon enough. I look forward, like everyone else, to getting back to a life without all of these worries, restrictions, and stress.

And a real vacation!! I love camping, ALOT, trust me, and kayaking. We’ve done our fair share this summer at the lake – our happy place. But I’m missing out on our annual family vacations, like driving to San Diego or Mexico and sitting on the beach for a week, eating all the food and doing all the fun things with reckless abandon. Well not reckless, but you know what I mean. And my work travel. I actually miss traveling for work which I did pretty often. Pre-COVID living. Still, such a weird thing to say. Travel wasn’t something we felt comfortable doing during all of this although I know people who have been. o each their own. My company banned us from travel for the year so there was no decision to be made there. I’ll take the break though anyway.

It really does take a village

Working moms of young kids…what’s your workday look and feel like these days? Share in the comments. Vent. Share pics. Share ideas. Share it all. Because this is hard. “They” say it takes a village. I’ve heard that expression alot over the course of being a mom, and it’s never been more true. Hang in there! We CAN do this…together. And we will.

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Heather Pierce
Born and raised in NJ, Heather left with fire on her heels to attend ASU in Tempe, AZ in 1995, where she obtained a degree in art history, while minoring in both anthropology and French. While at ASU she met her husband Jake and began their loud, crazy, fun filled life together. She’s a full time corporate marketing consultant, freelance writer, is on the board for and chairs the fundraising and marketing committee for Flagstaff Arts & Leadership ACademy, and most importantly, a very hands on and fun mom to two wild boys Zane, age 9, and Van, age 4. They’ve made Flagstaff their forever home since 2010 and Is actively involved in our mountain community, lives for live music, good food and wine, reading books about real life people, and a lover of the outdoors.

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