As a mother of two, cartoonist Adrienne Hedger understands the trials and tribulations of distance learning during a pandemic.
In her Hedger Humor comics, the Southern California-based artist captures familiar moments with honesty and wit. Her teenage daughters, Kate and Claire, have been doing remote learning since March. So far, the fall semester has gone more smoothly than the spring, Hedger told HuffPost.
“In spring, everyone was caught off guard, and it felt like, ‘Let’s just get through this.’ Teachers were posting assignments and doing their best, but there were no set times when classes met online,” she said. “It was a confusing, stressful time. Things are a lot better now. There is a set schedule and all the classes meet in videoconferences.”
One of the downsides of distance learning is that kids miss out on the social aspect of attending school in person — something Hedger’s daughters are longing for these days.
“My kids wistfully think back to the pre-virus time, when they could go to school and see their friends, meet new people, attend school events, and so on,” she said. “They desperately miss all that. Now school is just learning and homework on repeat.”
Plus, staying focused on lessons at home is no easy task given all of the distractions within reach.
“Kate told me that it’s hard to concentrate at home because she looks longingly over at her bed and thinks about taking a nap, or she wants to head down to the kitchen to find a snack,” Hedger said. “She said she keeps thinking, ‘If we were in a classroom, this would be SO much easier.’”
And as students know all too well, the screen fatigue is real.
“I never thought I’d live to see the day when my kids said, ‘We’ve had too much screentime.’ But here we are,” Hedger said.
In the early days of the pandemic, the Hedgers also encountered some technical difficulties that made virtual learning a struggle. Mom stepped in as the resident IT person.
“At the very beginning, we had a rough time because our internet kept failing, Claire had a bunch of weird login issues, and there were random tech problems,” Hedger said. “I became tech support for all the issues, and my assistant was Google.”
If Hedger could offer some advice to other parents in the throes of virtual learning with their kiddos, it would be to relish those little moments of humor when you find them. Some days you may not be in the mood to laugh, but when you are, lean into it.
“I started a group text with my kids and named it ‘Hedger Campus Students’ and I’ll send them alerts about things they need to do, including ‘cleaning up the school cafeteria’ — aka our kitchen,” she said. “If you can manage to inject a little silliness or levity into the day, it can reduce some of the stress.”
Plus, she’s trying to use this opportunity to show her daughters how to deal with life’s challenges.
“Beyond math and reading, our kids are learning how to cope with change and uncertainty,” Hedger said. “If they see us at least trying to look for the humor now and then, I think that sets a good example.”
And above all, Hedger said, we should extend extra grace and understanding to ourselves and others during this overwhelming period.
“One way or another, we’ll make it through this,” she said. “And someday we’ll be interviewed by a grandchild, and we’ll give them excellent material to write a fascinating school report. One that’s hopefully presented to a class full of kids, all in person!”
See more of Hedger’s cartoons below. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook or visit her website to check out more of her work.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.