Time to shop for new clothes, new shoes, fresh spiral notebooks just begging to be doodled on……I love back to school shopping! And I have loved back to school time my entire life. Until now. This year, “back to school” meant more anxiety, doubt, and worry than I’ve ever experienced before.
This year, I was the one going back to school.
I recently made the decision to pursue my Master’s degree. I have been teaching 4th-6th grade students for 16 years, and while I still really love what I do, I think a change is in the air and for me to really pursue a slightly different path—I need that degree. So, I started with a class over the summer, and my back to school time was at the beginning of my usual summer vacation with my kids…that meant a beginning of when mom needed to do homework.
I was always a “school” kid.
Reading, writing, and math came pretty easily to me. I was well-behaved and a bit of a teacher’s pet. This was true all through school even through college! But as I entered the classroom in June as a student for the first time in about 15 years, I was overcome with self-doubt and insecurity. I was already behind due to some confusion about logins and emails. My computer wasn’t set up with the stuff I needed. Nobody cared about my fresh new notebook because nobody wrote on actual paper! I literally sat there fighting back tears because suddenly, this seemed like the worst idea ever.
Then I got home and had to do the first assignment…and still be mom. And that’s where the real fun began.
My kids are now 10, 9, and 7. They are pretty independent and can do a lot of things for themselves. That is, unless mom has something she needs to do. Then, all independence disappears, and they can barely figure out how to breathe without help from me. Ok, that may be a bit hyperbolic of me, but seriously! Every time I would sit down to work on my homework, it would last about 6 minutes until Child A needed help finding something, Child B desperately needed something too high for her to reach, or Child C needed to fight with Children A & B over who was the last one to unload the dishwasher because she is SURE it is not her turn!
I may have gone a little Dolores Umbridge on them. I tried making proclamations…because mom needs to do homework.
Proclamation#1: When Mom Needs to Do Homework, it is Kids’ Reading Time.
My kids love to read, but apparently only when it is in their beds at night when they are supposed to go to sleep. Kids’ Reading Time didn’t work.
Proclamation #2: When Mom Needs to Do Homework, Kids Must Play Outside or With the Neighbors.
It rained. The neighbors weren’t home.
Proclamation #3: When Mom Needs to Do Homework, Ask Dad.
Hahahahahahahaha! Now, I am not putting down dad. He was there, willing, and fabulous. But we all know the kids only go to dad first when they know mom is going to say no. And if mom is distracted by work, she’ll probably say, “Yes, whatever, just leave me alone for 5 minutes, for Pete’s sake!” So that didn’t work.
Proclamation #4: When Mom Needs to do Homework, Work When They are Asleep.
Sounds great in theory, and it probably works for most people. For me, I have created three mini-me clones. On one hand, that’s great! They are nice, fun, witty people; just like their momma! On the other, they stay up late and sleep late in the summer because . . . just like their momma.
Work when they sleep didn’t work for me.
What Worked for Mom to do Homework
What did end up working for me for the summer class was just squeezing every minute of time when they were occupied with something as work time for myself. I stayed up later and woke up (a little bit) earlier. And I survived that first class. It was only 4 weeks, so it went by like a flash!
Now, as back to school for the kiddos is upon us, anxiety is creeping back in.
I’m taking one class this fall, but I will be teaching full time, too. The kids being back in school will add so much more to our schedule. Teaching, grading, soccer, dance, kids’ homework, and my own?? My stomach is knotting up just thinking about it! We will have to stick to a good schedule (which I am not super at), and I may have to ask for help more than I already do (which I am also not super at). Whatever it takes, I solemnly swear not to turn into Dolores Umbridge again!