A Mother’s Juggling Act: Managing Remote Learning with Three Kids

“It will be hard this year,” said Afaf. You may remember Afaf and her family from this feature and given the challenges parents are facing as the start of school approaches, we thought we’d check in with this mother of three about her plans for juggling schedules and needs as Ameera, Ahmed, and Elmahdi enter preschool, fifth grade, and seventh grade.

“My oldest son is independent and knows how to use his iPad, but he says he prefers going to school. He wants to go back so he can focus better,” she said. “But, he’s high risk and will need to learn from home as much as possible.”

Adding to her concerns, Afaf recognized Elmahdi’s special needs not being met as well over remote learning in the spring. He has an Individual Learning Plan, which was not being followed as closely. In addition, he was attending physical therapy at school, but the virtual experience is far from ideal. He could use his walker more at school where there is sufficient space. She wonders what the fall will bring for him.

Even though they will not physically leave the house, the stress of getting ready for school remains. The kids need to wake up, eat, and be ready on the computer—a familiar, stressful process for everyone involved without the children’s motivation to see their friends. March was a difficult month for them—Elmahdi and Ahmed accidentally missed classes as the whole family adjusted to the new, virtual schedule.

“They still did so well,” Afaf said, proud of her children’s resilience during this transition. “Elmahdi received straight A’s and Ahmed received many compliments.”

While Afaf’s husband works, the responsibilities of taking care of her children have multiplied since they began staying home. “Right now, I’m a mom, teacher, nurse, maid, therapist,” she said. “I am exhausted.”

She hopes that the kids will have virtual class on different days so it is possible for her to help them. Ameera, only in pre-kindergarten, struggles to stay still as young children often do, and sometimes gets bored and requires supervision. Both Ameera and Ahmed need frequent support using technology and often have questions about the content of their schoolwork.

“I don’t know how I’m going to do this,” Afaf said, full of uncertainty. “The schools need to make this doable for parents with more than one kid.”