I spent the first couple weeks of stay-at-home orders thinking: This will be tricky, but I’ve got it. After all, I homeschooled all four of my kids when they were younger, while I was working part-time. But I quickly discovered that overseeing virtual learning while working full-time is really nothing like homeschooling.

For one thing, I found it difficult to establish a routine. As a self-employed writer, my workload constantly changed, and my children’s schedules shifted too. Our district struggled for several weeks to streamline the school day. And don’t get me started about the technological problems. With four children in two different schools and at least 10 different teachers, my kids and I often had to access multiple online portals just to tackle a few subjects. Before the school came up with a better plan, my eldest son’s middle-school teachers contacted me or him daily on different portals, all with different usernames and passwords. One day, perhaps because of a glitch on the school’s end, my son’s math teacher texted me the same message more than a dozen times while I was working.

The amount of effort required to accomplish just a few minutes of school discouraged learning. And the assignments were not nearly as comprehensive as we were used to; they barely brushed over new concepts. I know this because the teachers told us so. They did the best they could and so did we, but the whole situation was infuriating. And, unlike homeschooling, where parents can come up with hands-on learning techniques and trips, we were constantly tied to a screen.