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Want to stay sane during virtual schooling? One (tired) mom's solution

What is a parent to do when your

What is a parent to do when your head feels like it is going to explode from constant commotion? Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Natalia Varlamova

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How many more days will there be of this — all my kids on their devices learning from home? How many days has it been? I’m not a counter, but it’s now well after Thanksgiving, and this has been going on since March. I’m exhausted.

I’m not tired because my children need all that much from me.

I’m fortunate: I have three teenagers who can log on themselves. (Well, they do come to me to check some work and help with projects and papers around the clock.)

Our Wi-Fi works. (We’ve had a few problems, such as all three device chargers breaking and never receiving support from the county school system, but we were able to buy our own.)

We have enough space in our house that each child can find a separate room. (I feel for those parents who are crammed into a small space with multiple young children.)

No, I’m tired from never being alone for one minute and having constant noise and activity around me. (I’m a stay-at-home mom, but this was not included in the job description.) I’m tired from cleaning around, under and after children. I’m tired from the meltdowns and complaints of too much work and not enough time with friends. (OK, so sometimes the complaints and meltdowns come from me.)

How many more days will I have to endure saxophone playing for band class? (I have yet to find effective earplugs that block the sound.) Pounding on the floor from physical education class? (Why can’t the child go outside? Oh, not a good enough connection, they say.) Lunch time too early at 11 a.m., with everyone in the kitchen at the same time fighting over food, utensils and cooking space?

Last month I went down to our basement to take a Zumba class. Standing there were my two sons arguing.

"I have dance class," one asserted.

"But I have gym class," the other purported. (He keeps his camera turned off, and I’ve found him goofing off instead of following the teacher’s instructions.)

"I have Zumba class!" I exclaimed.

We all stood looking at each other.

"Fine," I conceded. "You stay here for dance class, you go in the garage for physical education, and I’ll go out back for Zumba," I directed. I had to move my van out of the garage. (But, as I said before, thank goodness we have the space.) I did lose my Zumba connection once or twice, but I was able to complete the class using the small iPad screen. And let’s face it: I need the exercise.

What is a parent to do when your head feels like it is going to explode from constant commotion? I don’t recommend drugs or alcohol, even though that has occurred to me. I don’t like yoga, and I don’t meditate. (Yes, I know it is highly recommended.) There’s nowhere to run off too, although I’ve considered driving around the corner and sitting in the car. (Has anyone done that? I wonder.) I’ve tried taking long, luxurious baths, only to have a child knock on the bathroom door the minute my toe hits the water.

That only leaves me with one option: walking. Let me use part of the mail carrier’s slogan — "Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night" will keep me from a 30-minute jaunt in the neighborhood. At least it’s a healthy alternative. It keeps me away from the kitchen so I don’t overeat and gain those "quarantine 15" everyone talks about. Besides, I don’t want to be in the kitchen anyway. I just end up picking up a sponge, mop or broom.

So if you happen to see me walking (and you, too, are out in subzero temperatures), please say hello. Feel free to tell me your story. Do you have kids? Do you have enough space? Do you need to escape? Do you also crave solitude? Can you hear yourself think?

Diane Gensler lives in Owings Mills, Maryland. She is the author of "Forgive Us Our Trespasses: A Memoir of a Jewish Teacher in a Catholic School". This piece was written for The Baltimore Sun.

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