I Don’t Want to Be My Child’s Assistant Teacher Anymore

Mar 15, 2021

I don’t want to be my child’s assistant teacher anymore!

I am their mother and I really enjoy that role.  As their mother, I tell them to pick up the clothes that are laying on the floor.  I tell them to clean their playroom.  I tell them to set the dinner table.  During this past year, I have also found myself saying things like, “Make sure you participate.” I have also said, “It’s not snack time yet.  Come back later.”  I have said, “Do you have the supplies you need for your science class?”  

I don’t want to do this anymore!

I am NOT my child’s teacher that’s for sure.  I am grateful to my kids’ teachers.  We have some really wonderful teachers!! They are responsible for planning the content, engaging the students and making sure they teach the curriculum.  I don’t have to do any of that.  But what I find myself doing is a whole lot of “classroom management and support”.  And I’m tired of it.  I’m lucky that I have the kind of work that is flexible.  I can structure my day so that I am available to my children at the times they need me and balance that with seeing my clients virtually.  Lately, I feel like I am at their beckon call all day, every day.  And yes, I can talk to them about our expectations of one another and partner with them to set some boundaries.  But there is still the struggle that I have when I see that they are in the playroom playing and are late for class or when I see that they are not really attending to the teacher.  This struggle is one of “Do I say something?  Is this my job?  If they were in school, I wouldn’t have to say anything”?  I am the type of person who ends up saying something (and there’s no right way).  

But what I find is that I’m tired of saying anything at all and I think my kids are tired of hearing me say something too.  It’s not that my kids are being rude or disrespectful (sometimes they are, but this is not what I’m talking about).  What I’m talking about is a change in our relationship. I get it.  We’re in a pandemic and this is what I have to do. There are parts of it I enjoy, but sadly I am feeling those parts less and less.  My kids are also tired of this.  They show up to call on time every day.  They participate and get their work done.  That being said, their energy to attend and stay focused is not the same as it was in September.  It’s a tough balance between holding our kids accountable and responsible for school and having the flexibility to reflect the challenge of virtual school.  I just don’t want to continue in both the parent role and the teacher-type role.  Some people may say they go hand-in-hand, but I see how taking on this new role can negatively impact our relationship.  

So what do I tell my clients when they come to me with the same struggles? 
Because I know I’m not alone!

I have to offer myself compassion.  I can be tired and fed up and that’s ok.  My kids can be tired and fed up and that’s ok too.  What can I do to re-energize myself?  What can I do to shake things up? What is in my control that I can change?  Are there some boundaries that I need to reaffirm? What are the things that I can let go of and just let be?  What feels good?  What do I need to do to bring more of that into my life? It’s easy to get caught up in the daily stress.  We are all doing as well as we can given what we have. 

In the middle of writing this, the school day ended.  It is a rainy day and we don’t have any afterschool activities.  So I thought it would be fun to drive to pick up a super yummy after school snack….and for those of you who are local to Montclair, I went to Mattarello’s Bakery. 

OH YUM!!  

We giggled on the way there, we giggled on the way back and then all three of us indulged in this delicious treat!  Just something to do to shake things up!

This is not meant to minimize our challenges or to say that bombolones solve everything. It’s just to say that we can slow down, we can take it day by day. If I had to think about how I’m going to continue doing this until we are back in-person full time I might meltdown. If I focus on just getting though this week, I’ll have an easier time.

And so, I’m doing just that.