As I write this, let it be known that I’m sitting on my kitchen stool wearing flannel Christmas print pajamas and hoping to manifest the “You got this!” quote enamelled on my mug of merlot while I think about the day that was – and what else I still have to do.
It’s the first time today that I’ve had a moment to myself, and I’m sure every parent right now can empathize with how I feel.
As a single mom of a 12-year-old going on 16, and dog mom to a new puppy, let me just say – this has been a month. While I’m confident in the many hats I’ve practiced wearing for the past 12 years (mom, taxi, nurse, head chef – the list goes on), over the past few weeks there’s been a myriad of new roles introduced that I’m admittedly still learning how to juggle: seventh-grade teacher, executive math tutor, chief science officer, and director of puzzles to name only a few.
While the job of being a mom is all-encompassing, many of the new roles I’ve had to take on have been challenging – not only because I’m not necessarily used to them, but because I have to maintain them in addition to a full workday as the founder of a demanding business.
It’s difficult to know how to adequately fill some of these new ‘roles’ we’ve been given while we self isolate at home in a way that keeps our kid(s) engaged, all while being mindful of the amount of screen time we’re comfortable with.
I’m so fortunate I was recommended by a friend to explore the free streaming service CBC Gem, and its new library of family-friendly documentaries. They’re under an hour each, centered on a variety of entertaining, interesting and engaging content for kids I feel at ease letting my son watch while I work. They’re curious topics that he is genuinely interested in, and I’m content knowing that he’s spending 45 minutes (or so) learning beyond his school’s virtual classroom. A win-win in my books.
My son has already made it through a few of the titles, and no doubt he’ll be continuing to watch. I’m also sharing two standout favourites suitable for his age group to help parents who’ve found themselves in a similar situation to mine.
An exploration of pugs, with a focus on three rescue pugs and their adoptive families.
This was his first pick as we scrolled through the library! He was immediately interested in the unique topic of rescue pugs as his grandma (my mom) has a half-pug rescue dog of her own. While he knew about rescue animals before watching, I loved the emphasis the episode put on the importance of adopting pets in need. I could see the wheels in his head turning as he started to consider where our house pets come from, their life before they arrive at home and the role our dog plays in the family.
After the episode, I tasked him with creating a short PowerPoint about his grandma’s half-pug rescue. He found it fun to interview his grandma about her dog, and it taught him to explore the episode content within a real-life context.
Follows 200 Burlington students in a marching band as they practice and prepare for a big event.
While music isn’t one of his primary interests, I loved how this episode focused on the broader idea of extracurricular activities and the immense dedication that goes into one.
My son’s an avid hockey player, and while the title of this show didn’t initially seem related, there were a number of great lessons about applying oneself, showing commitment to an activity, and the value of teamwork. Several of the teens profiled in the episode were only slightly older than him, which made it even easier to identify with them.
Afterward, we sat together and talked about one thing he learned from each of the teenagers on the show, and how he could apply these traits to hockey when the season resumes.
For any parent reading this while similarly working hard to self-affirm and manifest all of the positivity in these unprecedented times, I highly recommend exploring CBC Gem and finding a few documentaries for your kids to explore and learn from.
Oh, and take an extra minute to remind yourself – you’ve got this.