I get it. It’s been over a month since you’ve been home with your family. If you’re lucky you’re still working. If you’re super lucky you’re working from home. And if you’re like 30 million other American’s right now, you’re unfortunately unemployed. The stress, anxiety, and uncertainty of it all is starting to get to you. But I’d like to highlight some things to help you cope.
First, I would like to give my most sincere empathy to those families who are struggling financially, and with family members who have fallen ill. This is the most severe economic and health crisis of my generation. With millions out of work and struggling to pay bills and feed their families, having to support ill family members from afar, and say goodbye to those they love without the ability to hold funerals or mourn as they would, those are truly the greatest struggles in this pandemic. My heart goes out to you.
While my problems are really luxury problems in comparison, I am still finding myself missing some of the normalcy in our lives. And so are my kids. Attending school from home, missing friends and family, and missing out on some of the social celebrations that come with the end of the school year has been difficult on them.
If you have children home from school…
School from home has been a challenge for most parents we talk to. Each child in my house has a different website, process, workload, and requirement from the other. When my kids yell out with questions the first time it’s fine, the next few questions become slightly inconvenient, and by the end of the day I am frustrated between trying to answer questions about 3 different grades while trying to complete my work as well.
So, what to do?
First, we created a schedule. The day is loosely broken down into what we expect. Wake up, breakfast, brush your teeth, school work, break for lunch, finish school work, free time, outside time, quiet time, etc.
Make a schedule that works for you and your family. Do you need time to decompress first thing in the morning? Great! Designate the first half hour to an hour after breakfast as quiet time. For our quiet time, our kids either read or play quietly in their own rooms. Are your kids more energetic? Maybe outside time is the first thing they do. Think about your families needs and create a schedule that will work for you! If you need any help or ideas you can always e-mail me for a personalized schedule!
Next, we created a designated workspace for work and school. The kids are set up in the kitchen with their chrome books and my husband and I are set up in the living room to do our work. We also have designated space for where everything goes at the end of the day also so the kids can clean up on their own.
I used to go crazy every day running around printing worksheets every few minutes. Now I plan ahead for each week as best I can. Each weekend I go into their remote learning sites and print out any and all worksheets they’ll need printed for the week. Then I organize the papers for each day with paperclips and put sticky notes for Monday through Friday and place these worksheets at their designated space where they put their chrome books away. I also have a list of usernames and passwords for their school sites printed. This way each week all of their worksheets, passwords, chrome books, chargers, and headphones are all in one place. This makes set up and clean up much less stressful.
Keeping in distant touch
Social isolation is not only difficult, it’s detrimental. Even though it’s not safe to have play dates, it’s still important to let your kids communicate with people important to them. Download Zoom (it’s free), Google Duo, Facetime, or whatever video app you have to let your kids keep in touch with friends and family. For younger kids be easy on them if they don’t seem to be “talking” to their friends. Once our 7 year old was watching a T.V. show with his friend on Zoom and even though they weren’t talking very much they still felt connected, as if they were doing something together. Another time they were building with Lego’s with Zoom on. It’s all about feeling connected. We personally don’t count face time as screen time, it’s a freebie, since those connections are still so important.
Our Silver Lining
With the boredom that has ensued with being home 24/7 our family has created a new tradition to help beat the tedium of being home. Every day we have tea time, between lunch and dinner. We all have a cup of tea and a small snack. It’s simple, and they would get a snack in their normal schedules as well, but we all sit together and take a break. Sometimes we all sit and read at tea time, sometimes we all talk. Sometimes the kids just want to listen to music and sit and eat. It’s been something they have looked forward to every day. Try coming up with your own “new” or renewed traditions to give everyone something to look forward to. Just make sure you enjoy it too, or you’ll be dreading it instead of looking forward to it.
Although it’s been difficult…
Although being home has been stressful at times we’re seeing so much more of our children, and understanding them better as well. We’re seeing first hand their strengths and weaknesses that would normally only be seen in the classroom. We’re talking to each other more. And believe it or not, the kids are fighting with each other less.
We’ve also spent much more time outdoors than we could before. We were always trying to get from point A to point B before. Even though I was with my children by 4:30 in the afternoon I felt like I never saw them. On the weekends it was art, violin, play dates, karate, birthday parties. It never ended. Now we’ve slowed down. We’re laughing and playing with them more. We’ve lived in the same home for 5 years and it took a pandemic for our kids to create their own secret hideout in our yard. It was amazing. Try to enjoy this time with them as much as you can.
In addition to spending more time with the kids, my husband and I have spent much more time together. We’re having more meaningful conversations. And we’re all at the dinner table together. Even just sitting in the same room as him to work is enjoyable for me.
So, while there are certainly challenges involved with being home, and emotions are running high while patience runs thin, I hope that everyone has a type of silver lining in their experience. I hope that there are some small moments of your day that bring you happiness, or small ways you feel more connected to those you live with, nature, or yourself. As always, please leave a comment with any more ideas or thoughts!!