Updated at 12:17 p.m. ET on July 27, 2020.
“I can’t keep doing this.” I hear that over and over from my friends with kids. Holding a job, parenting, and teaching all at once during the pandemic is a juggling act that no one was prepared to undertake, and it has brought working parents to the breaking point.
Many of us are now riddled with anxiety over whether we’ll send our kids back to school, even part-time, or keep them home. The idea that I might have to continue to work while facilitating another subpar semester of virtual learning is almost too much to bear. Even though COVID-19 cases have spiked where I live in Texas, I want to send my children back to school in the fall. I don’t want to have to repeat the spring, for my kids’ sake and my own. Schools simply need to find a way to make reopening safe.
I spent the first couple weeks of stay-at-home orders thinking: This will be tricky, but I’ve got it. After all, I homeschooled all four of my kids when they were younger, while I was working part-time. But I quickly discovered that overseeing virtual learning while working full-time is really nothing like homeschooling.
For one thing, I found it difficult to establish a routine. As a self-employed writer, my workload constantly changed, and my children’s schedules shifted too. Our district struggled for several weeks to streamline the school day. And don’t get me started about the technological problems. With four children in two different schools and at least 10 different teachers, my kids and I often had to access multiple online portals just to tackle a few subjects. Before the school came up with a better plan, my eldest son’s middle-school teachers contacted me or him daily on different portals, all with different usernames and passwords. One day, perhaps because of a glitch on the school’s end, my son’s math teacher texted me the same message more than a dozen times while I was working.