I feel so unproductive. 

I wake up at 6 a.m. and drag myself to the computer. I have to get on early because my kids and my mom need to use the computer, too. Our poor computer has never seen this much action! There are back-to-back Zoom meetings and projects that are due. Recently, my daughter requested and received a district-issued iPad. Receiving the iPad was a blessing, but has also been a great source of frustration. I am thankful for the opportunity to have her access her schoolwork so she can stay on task to complete her studies. However, the iPad does not come preloaded with the necessary apps she needs, and it will not allow her to download them. I have to find a way to bring more technology into our apartment. Why does it feel like working from home is not as convenient as I was once led to believe?!? 

I feel so unproductive. 

At a.m., school starts for two of my children. A couple months ago, they woke up at 5 a.m. to get ready for their 90-minute commute to school. Now, they wake up at 8:55 a.m. – five minutes before they have to log on. 

One of my children’s schools (charter) stresses proper attire – no PJs, no scarves, and you are NOT to be in bed during class. They are in class from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on most days. They have breaks during the day where my senior works independently or takes a nap.  

My other child is a sophomore and goes to an independent day school. Her school takes a different approach to online learning. She has scheduled days off, shorter periods of being online, more independent projects and an all-class book to read and discuss. She also finds time to nap during the day.   

I still feel unproductive. 

My four adult children are home from college which is a challenge. I’ve raised them to be independent, and now, they are trying to acclimate themselves to our house rules again. They left campus so quickly, and they left most of their belongings there. Two of them are in culinary school, and it is refreshing to see how their school is adapting to teaching them online. The bonus – a different culinary delight for lunch, dinner, and dessert. The downside – the extra calories from the culinary delights!  

And yet, I feel unproductive. 

In addition to being a mom of six, I am a licensed massage therapist who hasn’t touched anyone in two monthscurrently work two jobs, and I am a full-time college student. School was over two weeks after the city lockdown. I was fortunate enough to get through my studies successfully. In my role as a peer mentor, I was able to help some fellow students transition to fully online classes. But I know it wasn’t enough. There are so many more students who will be lost with classes going entirely online. They were struggling when they were able to come to campus to get help; now, they will have to navigate trying to find help, do their classes, and stay on track during the semester, all from the (dis)comfort of their homes. My school is doing their best to support, but I don’t think anything will be enough in these circumstances.  

I function best when I am productive. Right now, I don’t feel very productive.  Yes, I’m on Zoom calls, I do my administrative assistant duties, I cook, clean, and try to get some daily exercise in. I’ve even cleaned out my pen junk drawer – no more dead pens in this family! But that feels like “busy” work.   

I am making a Quarantine Quest  to complete three major tasks that I have been putting off due to “lack of time.” 

  1. Formulate my business entity
  2. Create my website
  3. Create my not-for-profit. 

I believe completing tasks that are important to me and have a direct link to future success-based goals will be the most productive way to ride out this quarantine.  Another goal in my Quarantine Quest is to continue my work with Ed Trust–NY by gathering parent voice about decisions surrounding how school should look as we return to “normal.” We parents should be included in the conversation about how education should look moving forward. We are the ones who have to deal with the shortcomings of the education system. Teachers say education is a partnership. Parents should be silent partners no longer. 

 Kimberley Downer is a parent in New York City who participates in The Education Trust–New York Parent Fellowship.