Distance learning. Work from home. Nursing school. A mom of 3 juggles it all.

By Tara Drinks

For many parents and caregivers, juggling distance learning and working full-time hasn’t been easy. Add “getting a nursing degree” to the list and it becomes even more challenging. Just ask Michelle Wright.

Michelle, an HR manager, and her husband Derrick live in New Jersey with their three children: Nina, 14; Ian, 10; and Aaron, 7. Both Ian and Aaron have been struggling in school — especially during distance learning.

Since March, when schools shut down, Michelle has been working from home and helping her kids with distance learning. And in the new school year, she added her own nursing degree coursework.

Here, Michelle Wright tells her story to writer Tara Drinks.


I’d like to believe I have a better handle on things this school year. That is, in my roles as mom, teacher, tech support, and student.

I noticed early on that Ian and Aaron work much better in a designated area. So, I set up workstations in my office. And my new assistant, “Alexa,” is doing a great job at keeping all of us on track with her reminders. 

My kids aren’t the only students this time around. I’m enrolled in an online program and studying to become a licensed practical nurse.

Juggling work, being a mom, and now a student, has not been easy. Most days I feel overwhelmed. And every day I feel as if there’s not enough time. I’m starting to see how all of this is impacting my kids’ studies. And if I can be honest, I’m beginning to worry.

Ian is in the fifth grade and has had an IEP for math and language arts for about three years now. In school, he received one-on-one time to help strengthen his skills. 

Now that he’s home, he receives support in a separate Google Meet with his teacher. But that’s not the same — especially now that teachers are juggling remote learning and having students physically in the classroom a few days a week. 

I haven’t been doing the best job supporting Ian like I should. I’m reminded of this whenever it’s time for him to read aloud or write an essay.

Sometimes, he becomes so frustrated that he begins to cry. And that breaks my heart because I want to help him, but I don’t know the best way I can. I often have these same thoughts when trying to help Aaron.

Aaron is in the second grade and is a whiz at math. But he struggles with spelling. Sounding out words can be tricky for him as well. Aaron doesn’t like to make mistakes, so he spends a lot of time trying to perfect whatever he’s writing or spelling.

I once caught Aaron trying to cheat on his spelling test. And I had to place some of the blame on myself because I didn’t get a chance to study with him beforehand. It was a big learning moment for both of us.

I had to apologize to him for making him feel like he needed to cheat to get a good grade. Now we study his words for five minutes every night before bed. 

My kids have different learning styles. What may work for one child may not work best for another. So, for now, I’m working on a new plan for us to follow. It’ll include setting aside time for me to work with each child.

As challenging as this time has been, I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That light is that we are all healthy and well. I’m grateful for that, and it reassures me that we can get through this — one day at a time. 


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    About the author

    About the author

    Tara Drinks is an associate editor at Understood.