Parents asked to do “three jobs at the same time” during COVID-19 isolation

Elka Wood 6 April 2020 43

Parenting can be isolating enough without physical isolation. Photo: Supplied.

With COVID-19 regulations enforced and daycares and schools reducing their capacity or closing, parents are finding themselves with a triple-whammy situation – being expected to work from home, parent full-time and deliver lessons to school-age kids.

“It’s literally doing three jobs at the same time: working, parenting and trying to teach,” says Bemboka mum Paula Mathewson.

While many people are enjoying taking a break from busy routines and making the most of much-needed time to connect with their kids, some parents are (understandably) only just holding it together and report feeling anxious about being home.

Part of the problem could be that the parenting styles and techniques we have developed for modern life are not suited to the situation we now find ourselves in.

We hear all the time from our parents’ generation that kids were expected to play unsupervised for most of the day so mum could keep the household running. But as parents shifted towards full-time work, the amount of time we spend with our kids is often limited to a few hours a day so we make the most of that time – playing with them, saying yes and prioritising their needs.

As a result, many kids don’t discover boundaries until they reach school age. Skills which require consistency, such as learning to use the toilet, are often learnt at daycare.

While the modern system kind of works, any parent can tell you of times they felt trapped and alone. The physical isolation we’re experiencing now only amplifies these feelings.

A mum at my kid’s school in Bega, Sofia Elek, put it into words: “Don’t forget the parents for who this situation further entrenches feelings of worthlessness. Yet more hours in which to fail.”

The burden is especially great for single-adult households. Vicki Goldsmith, who lives in Bega with her three teenage kids, says she doesn’t feel good about leaving them alone when she goes to work.

“I don’t like them being unsupervised because they end up on screens all day,” she says. “But it’s also an opportunity for them to self-regulate and practice responsibility.”

We didn’t evolve to parent alone and many of us are feeling the loss of contact with grandparents and community assets such as playgroups, libraries, playgrounds and, especially, the institutions we hand our kids over to, that enable us to take a breath, complete a task and do some much-needed physical and mental self-care.

Merimbula mother Keziah Muthsam is finding the experience is giving her a new appreciation for her children’s teachers.

“It’s a lot more difficult than I ever imagined,” she says. “With four kids, one in year 3, one in year 2 and one in kinder, plus a two-year-old and working, I have never felt so overwhelmed.”

Many parents have told me they feel at a loss when a child refuses to do schoolwork, and that they don’t have the authority to ensure the work gets done, even though their teachers say they comply at school.

Parents who see their kids for a few hours every day are going to parent differently to those doing it full-time.

Being a playmate is not sustainable all day, especially while trying to work and run a household. Neither is serving your kids every meal and cleaning up afterwards, unless they are infants.

Obviously, there is going to be some fallout with the current situation. Parents, go easy on yourselves as you reset your boundaries with your kids. It’s emotionally impossible to parent the way we have been for three hours a day, for 24 hours a day.

To survive this time, we might need to channel the 1950s and expect that kids will pitch in on household tasks and tell them, “Go outside and don’t come back until dinnertime.”

They might be upset, resistant and tell us numerous times that it is unfair and that they are bored. But hold steady, you are doing a great job.

Remember you are not alone so talk to a fellow parent every day (from a distance, of course).

Our kids are more resilient than we think – as are we!

Original Article published by Elka Wood on About Regional.

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43 Responses to Parents asked to do “three jobs at the same time” during COVID-19 isolation
Trish Arthur O'Sullivan Trish Arthur O'Sullivan 12:16 pm 08 Apr 20

Years ago this is exactly what happened and we didn’t even get child endowment because the government couldn’t afford it. How times have changed.

David Blundell David Blundell 8:10 am 07 Apr 20

Really it's called been a parent get over it

Simon O'Brien Simon O'Brien 7:20 am 07 Apr 20

Oh you mean like how some expect teachers to teach and parent at the same time? 🤣👏🏼

Melinda Gonczarek Melinda Gonczarek 7:07 am 07 Apr 20

Yep! It’s an enormous ask - thank goodness for upcoming school holidays so working parents can have a chance to catch our breath before the juggle begins again semester 2.

Vickie Quinn Vickie Quinn 9:39 pm 06 Apr 20

Omg get over it...dont take it too are alive!!!

Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 6:10 pm 06 Apr 20

It's great that parents can now get the same experiences as teachers of their kids get! 😉😷😂

    Kir Rin Kir Rin 7:09 pm 06 Apr 20

    Phil Hopkins not really. For the teachers it IS their job and they’re in a structured environment.

    We’re trying to do this untrained, different year levels at the same time all while also trying to do our full time day jobs.

    Paula Papandrea Paula Papandrea 7:17 pm 06 Apr 20

    No where near the same thing!

    Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 8:04 pm 06 Apr 20

    Kirrin Birrin I understand but this is a wake up for parents that expect teachers to do everything and step aside from what should be normal parenting duties. Teachers are expected to be pseudo parents ..... their not!

    Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 8:05 pm 06 Apr 20

    Paula Papandrea I understand but this is a wake up for parents that expect teachers to do everything and step aside from what should be normal parenting duties. Teachers are expected to be pseudo parents ..... their not!

    Paula Papandrea Paula Papandrea 8:14 pm 06 Apr 20

    i disagree, in no way do I need a wake up call. I do not have any unreasonable expectations of teachers. I don’t expect teachers to parent.

    Even if I did, it does not equate to the difficulty parents are facing trying to ‘school at home’ their children who are incapable of working the IT platforms for themselves and teach themselves, whilst mum or dad is trying to hold down their own job and assist their children 6 hours a day.

    Oh, did I mention parent on top of that?

    It’s hardly the same thing.

    Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 8:21 pm 06 Apr 20

    Paula Papandrea oh, and teachers aren't parents too? My post is aimed at parents that take NO interest at all in their kids schooling or the bad behaviour their kids exhibit.... thanks for being a great parent!

    Paula Papandrea Paula Papandrea 8:23 pm 06 Apr 20

    Phil Hopkins ok well perhaps there are parents that are that way.

    I feel really sorry for parents who still need to do this with their own children while teaching at the same time! Logistical nightmare!

    Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 8:24 pm 06 Apr 20

    Paula Papandrea Yep......mad times Take care!

Lee Reicheneder Lee Reicheneder 4:51 pm 06 Apr 20

I've home educated for years minus a 6 month school period where I only had 1 child of 4 enrolled in school when they went pupil free. I can say even when I home educated all children I have never felt anywhere near the levels of stress that I feel with the change to 'school at home' for my son along with the expectations. It's ridiculous I'm sorry to say the kids can learn at home easily through many things and ways without putting everyone through these school at home expectations and the stress levels that parents now have to go through. Not to mention the pressure it's putting on children. My poor school aged child hates it so far. I barely have time to concentrate on my other 2 children who actually are registered home educating children that I need to record progress for and sit a review regarding their education to continue registration.... All because my focus is on the ridiculous expectations for just one child 😳. All I can think is that gosh my other 2 school aged children are registered home education children because I don't think I can manage these school expectations sent home for 3 different year levels. I do not know how they have made it so full on and stressful when it is so easy to home educate successfully without this much stress or work and nobody suffers or gets left behind.

    Zoë Clews Tibbitts Zoë Clews Tibbitts 5:18 pm 06 Apr 20

    Not to mention working full time from home at the same time

    Lee Reicheneder Lee Reicheneder 5:21 pm 06 Apr 20

    Zoë Clews Tibbitts trying to work around my business too which I'm trying to keep running with my now limitations unsure if I can even financially continue it atm as my primary income maker from it is no longer possible for me. So I hear you. It's HARD. I can't imagine employment as it's hard enough when you can at least work your own hours

    Zoë Clews Tibbitts Zoë Clews Tibbitts 5:22 pm 06 Apr 20

    It feels impossible, some things have to give. Take care and good luck 🧡

    Lee Reicheneder Lee Reicheneder 5:22 pm 06 Apr 20

    You too Zoe

    Paula Papandrea Paula Papandrea 7:16 pm 06 Apr 20

    Kylie it’s not just us 😊

Taffy Llewellyn Taffy Llewellyn 4:40 pm 06 Apr 20

You mean to say parents have to actually be parents? Big shock horror

    Chris Jones Chris Jones 8:01 pm 08 Apr 20

    Parenting is one thing. Teaching at the same time and also trying to do your own job so you can get paid and actually provide a roof and food for your kids is another.

SP Brogues SP Brogues 2:54 pm 06 Apr 20

Jo Paddison Tracey Hillier hang in there ladies and don’t beat yourself up. You are doing a great job xxx

Danielle Young Danielle Young 1:41 pm 06 Apr 20

No parent can be expected to do everything, it's simply not possible. As long as your kids are happy, safe and doing something don't stress about lessons. Make a cake, go for a walk, learn how to use the washing machine. Positive mental health is far more important :)

Holly Wood Holly Wood 1:08 pm 06 Apr 20

Yes my son is in Yr3 and has a full days lesson plan and it is CRAZY some days. They also aren’t allowed to be in their pjs. I don’t even have time to get out of my pjs, or help my son with his year 10 lessons.

    Jenni Zimoch Jenni Zimoch 1:24 pm 06 Apr 20

    Holly Wood tell the school you'll get done what you can and no more.

    They only do about 3 hours work a day, what with breaks and getting kids to settle down, and explaining the work, and getting their attention..and more breaks, PE..

    Holly Wood Holly Wood 1:27 pm 06 Apr 20

    Jenni Zimoch today I am just letting him go through what he wants to with the links provided. I’m not going to sit and explain the complex activities to him today... it is too overwhelming for both of us.

    Brenda Rae Brenda Rae 4:09 pm 06 Apr 20

    Holly Wood don’t be too hard on yourself , teachers can focus on the class and aren’t doing another full time job simultaneously. They will be just fine

    Kriso Hadskini Kriso Hadskini 8:13 pm 06 Apr 20

    Jenni Zimoch Exactly!

Bronwyn Rebecca Parsons Bronwyn Rebecca Parsons 12:44 pm 06 Apr 20

Working, Homeschooling and chasing a 3 year old around but the way I look at it, is things could be way way worse.

Kriso Hadskini Kriso Hadskini 12:44 pm 06 Apr 20

I do think that parents are taking the homeschooling way too deep though. It is well known you can get through a day's worth of work in 1 or 2 hours. If there is too much work, give the school feedback. I have done that with my childs school and I think they are listening. As an ex teacher, it is really hard to teach into a void...also there will be panic for teachers about proving value= heaps of content. Just do what feels right in that arena and hopefully that will make your work life a bit better.

    Angela Tsang Angela Tsang 7:30 pm 06 Apr 20

    Kriso if only in ours! Feedback provided before it began. I’m not the only parent to be feeling this I know. Actually I had a meltdown over this & juggling work only few days ago. Almost 2 wks of this new norm & am wondering how the F is it going to be in term 2. I’m tired, really tired.

    Kriso Hadskini Kriso Hadskini 8:12 pm 06 Apr 20

    Angela Tsang Because you take the rules too seriously Ange, let some of it go, it will be better for B if u r happy. Unhappy mum=unhappy son.

    Erin Miller Erin Miller 8:58 pm 06 Apr 20

    Our school has said to stick to the timetable as if they were at school. It's unrealistic in a home environment.

    Jackie Fuller Jackie Fuller 11:45 am 07 Apr 20

    Erin Miller ours too!.

Natalie Porter Natalie Porter 12:39 pm 06 Apr 20

Home schooling this very different to what parents are expected to do at the moment.

    Rhi Campbell Rhi Campbell 1:18 pm 06 Apr 20

    Natalie Ferris that doesn't mean this situation is easy. A homeschooling parent is generally a stay-at-home parent with no other job.

    Natalie Porter Natalie Porter 1:52 pm 06 Apr 20

    Rhi Campbell I think you have taken my comment the wrong way.

    Jackie Fuller Jackie Fuller 11:47 am 07 Apr 20

    Rhi Campbell she isn't saying it against us 🤷‍♀️

Tiffany Gleeson Tiffany Gleeson 12:39 pm 06 Apr 20

And on top of work, general duties, work, a 3 year old and a 5 year old who is now homeschooled, I'm a full time uni student. Talk about expert multitasking zombie extrodineer!

Stacy Gildenston Stacy Gildenston 12:35 pm 06 Apr 20

When everyone homeschools nobody homeschools.

Tara Murray Tara Murray 12:33 pm 06 Apr 20

Yep and having a 1yo to also entertain is very challenging

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