Saskatchewan·Point of View

Despite the chaos, stress and glitter, I know I'll miss my kids being home when this is over

I’m trying to find gratitude in an impossible situation.

Finding gratitude while parenting through the overwhelming uncertainty and fear

Martha Neovard pulled her kids out of schools before they closed last week. Four of five family members have chronic health issues that puts them at risk if they were to catch COVID-19. (Submitted by Martha Neovard)

When I first became a mother, I learned I had to make some choices. Cloth diapers or disposable? Jogging or mall stroller? Public school or home-school?

In my social circle I have many friends who home-school their children. They have cool field trips, fun social clubs and happy, thriving kids.

But home-schooling was never for me. Until it had to be this month.

Before I had kids, I had no idea how loud they are. With three children, I have reached peak parental decibels.  Every single person with teens and grown children told me, "enjoy this time, you'll miss this later," but I could never hear what they were saying.

I kid. Sort of. 

Parenting three children under five is a beautiful, exhausting feat of pure perseverance. For 10 years I have eagerly awaited the year all my children would be in school, when I would have actual hours of silence to do my work. This was the year.

Now the past two weeks have flipped the whole world on its head.

The Neovard sisters working away at the kitchen table in full superhero makeup they designed and wrote back-stories for. (Submitted by Martha Neovard)

Four out of five of our family have chronic health issues that put us at risk if we were to catch COVID-19. So last week, before the province announced the schools would be closing, we'd already decided to pull our kids out.

We were going to be home-schoolers.

On the first home-school day I was shaken awake at 7 a.m. by multiple small feet pounding loudly into my room.

I felt small hands patting my face and tried to feign sleep. They peeled back one of my eyelids and pressed a piece of paper to my forehead, then two more. They'd each drawn up their own strict schedule for the school day, starting at 8 a.m.

They meant business.

That first day, my sweet darlings turned into drill sergeants. We were running late and I got a thorough scolding each time we lost a minute in the day. 

The agenda drawn on the chalkboard. (Submitted by Martha Neovard )

I put my oldest on a laptop I was okay with her crashing (she has a talent for crashing computers) and set her to working on math. I gave my seven-year-old a video and craft assignment on clouds. I told my five-year-old to draw a dinosaur, and to explain her picture in French.

Fifteen minutes into Day 1 of homeschooling I learned that my French accent is shoddy and my syntax is appalling. I couldn't say a word in French without being corrected politely. Each time I asked Google to prove me right and Google rudely sided with my children.

I gave up speaking French.

By 11:15 a.m. they had completed the six hours of work I'd planned for. By 11:20 a.m., my 10-year-old had indeed crashed the laptop, my five-year-old was fighting the dog for pencil crayons, and my seven-year-old had compiled an alphabetical list of all the ways her school teacher is better at teaching.

"Did I teach you how to alphabetize lists?" I asked hopefully.

"No," she said, looking at me with pity. "My teacher did."

Isabel's Nimbus cloud project. (Submitted by Martha Neovard )

The rest of the day, they implored me for schoolwork. I couldn't even pee in peace. They burst through every locked door like tiny Kool-Aid men, demanding knowledge I don't have. (I have a growing list of questions to ask Google in secret).

WATCH: Regina's Nikko Snyder on adapting to self-isolation as a family with kids:

Nikko Snyder talks about adapting to self-isolation as a family with kids. 3:16

It's now Day 4 and every surface in my house is covered in a fine sheen of glitter. Even my precious Lysol wipes don't take it off.

We also don't own glitter. We have been socially isolated for five days now. Where did the glitter come from???

Yesterday I lost my five-year-old for a full two hours. I still have no idea where she was hiding but she looks suspiciously well fed and I am concerned she may have been sheltering with our pandemic supply of potatoes.

 Are raw potatoes okay for children? I'll add that to my secret "ask Google" list.

An apparent chair of shame or knowledge, created by the kids. (Submitted by Martha Neovard)

There is paper scattered everywhere. Cotton batting is glued to my dining room table. This morning I whimpered helplessly as an entire container of yogurt fell out of the fridge and sprayed the length of the kitchen.

I have randomly developed hives on my arms. I don't know what I'm allergic to, but I suspect it's math.

I feel like a first-time mom all over again. I'm sleep deprived, dishevelled, and bewildered by the abrupt changes in my world. There is an unidentifiable stain on my shirt, and I'm simultaneously overflowing with love and desperate for solitude.

I've cried at least six times this week.

The stress and the uncertainty and the fear are overwhelming, but I'm trying to remember to just breathe and know my kids will be okay, even if I can't teach them anything. I'm trying to find gratitude in an impossible situation.

I am grateful that we're all together and healthy.

I am grateful that both my husband and I have flexible jobs that can be done from home and that allow us to be with our children during so much turbulence.

I am grateful to be able to spend so much time with my kids again.

Because despite the chaos, the noise, and the glitter, I know when this is all over, I will miss this.


This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

Interested in writing for us? We accept pitches for opinion and point-of-view pieces from Saskatchewan residents who want to share their thoughts on the news of the day, issues affecting their community or who have a compelling personal story to share. No need to be a professional writer!

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About the Author

Martha Neovard resides in Regina with her three daughters, two dogs and one husband. She works as a childbirth and infant feeding educator in southern Saskatchewan and enjoys opera music, irony and creative writing.

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