Moms battle emotions as schools open up

A boy just wants to have fun: Ashley Lynn Archer, with her son Austin, 6. at Chief Justice Milvain School in Calgary on Sept. 20. Archer is a single mom to one child, and recently returned to work. (Photo by Chantel Goldney/SAIT)

It has been seven months since parents had to adjust to working from home, or leaving work to parent and educate their children.

With schools open again parents are not just relieved, but also anxious.

“I am feeling relieved in the sense I can dedicate my full attention to my job again with no distractions,” said Leighanne Bishara, a mom working from home full-time.

“But I do actually miss having my son home with me.”

While Bishara is feeling relieved, moms like Ashley Lynn Archer are concerned for what will happen if her son comes home sick.

“I’m relieved that he gets to go back to school and have some normalcy in his life,” said Archer.

“But if he has to be quarantined because of some exposure while he’s been at school, and I have to stay home with him, it’s going to be devastating financially for me.”

Despite financial hardships parents who had to stay home also had to be the teacher while working at their own jobs.

“I heard a lot of people saying how much they enjoyed working from home as it enabled them a better work-life balance but I didn’t find that to be the case,” said Bishara.

“I was still working full-time hours and because his dad was deemed essential it was just myself home with him. So I had to figure out how to juggle my workload plus his school work which resulted in longer days.”

Moms like Archer also faced anxiety.

“It was pretty hard at first because I am not a very good teacher,” said Archer. “I’m the kind of person who I’ll see him struggling, and I’ll just do it for him because it gives me anxiety to watch.”

According to Alberta Health, 13 schools had been affected by COVID-19 here as  of early October. And while they were outside cases, parents are still keeping their children in school.

“We chose to send our son back to school because he is at a very impressionable age where it is pivotal for him to be learning as much as he can,” said Bishara.

“With his parents needing to focus their time on full time work or studies it was important he received the attention he needed to focus on his learning.”

Archer had considered online schooling, but ultimately changed her mind as her son would have been the only child left at daycare during the day.

“I did have him enrolled in online schooling, but he was the only one enrolled,” said Archer.

“He would have been the only one left at daycare when everybody else went to school. So we switched to just going to regular school.”

But life slowly returns to normal, and parents resume a normal schedule with the new laws in effect.

“I started back at work on Sept. 8, and have been working full time since,” said Archer. “And he’s back in daycare, and school now so kind of back to normal.”

Even as things resume back to normal during this time, parents such as Bishara continue to have concerns.

“I enjoy being able to focus but I do miss my son,” said Bishara. “And I do also worry about the pandemic a little bit with him being in school.”

Conquering the playground: Ashley Lynn Archer, with her son Austin, 6, in the park at Chief Justice Milvain School in Calgary on Sept. 20. Archer is a single mom to one child, and recently returned to work after being home for many months during the COVID-19 shutdown. (Photo by Chantel Goldney/SAIT)