Okay, here we are in a completely new world from a month ago, even a few weeks ago depending on where you live.
And let’s be honest, it’s a crazy world that none of us have ever been in before.
Right now I’m being bombarded by e-mails and charts and suggestions from people on what to do with kids at home. Most of us don’t have experience homeschooling, but even more than that, we aren’t used to seeing people for all day every day, for weeks and weeks, and maybe months and months. And although there are parts of life that all families probably share, the fact is that each family is very unique.
So hear this: we are all in this together (while social distancing), but you can choose how to make it work for your own family.
What I’m trying to say is if charts like this freak you out, don’t use one. If an article like this about throwing any schedule out makes you roll your eyes, don’t follow it. You’re heard of “you do you.” Now we’re in the middle of “families figure it out.”
But don’t forget you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself, Moms.
It always seems that every time cultural life changes, different high standards are placed on moms.
Before it was either stay home and do all the things or work part time and do all the things or work full-time and do all the things. Now that most of us need to stay home, it’s like we are all being put in the same box and held to specific standards whether we are still working or not (either way being with people 24/7 is HARD)
And y’all, I’ll be honest, I am not qualified to do all of the things – I do not have an elementary teaching degree, I don’t know what all of the state standards are for every subject they would be learning, I don’t have a music or physical education or art or counseling or nursing or librarian degree! That’s why I normally send them to school!
But with schools closed right now, the only thing we NEED to do is what is best for our family.
What does that look like for your family? I have absolutely no idea, but let me give you only a very few suggestions. At the most basic level, we will keep them alive, clothed and fed. If you do that these next weeks or months, then great job!!
Above that, if you feel up to it, maybe throw in some outside playtime. How long? Who knows? Do you remember when you were a kid and you would spend hours and hours playing outside? Do you remember how much you learned and how it increased your creativity? So don’t worry how long, just see how they are doing and go from there.
If you feel like adding on, throw in a little creative activity or some reading or writing.
You don’t need a lot, just try something and see how it goes. Yesterday we tried a drawing activity with Mo Willems from a YouTube video put out by the Kennedy Center – my kids loved it! So we did another one today.
But also yesterday we took a virtual tour of the Louvre Museum in Paris. I have even been there and could narrate it to my captive audience. Were my 8 and 5 year old interested? For approximately two minutes. So after about 10 minutes, we moved on, and we probably won’t try another museum tour for a while. Should I beat myself up that it didn’t work? Absolutely not. We just move on and try something else.
What other suggestions do I have?
Look at your children and notice what interests them.
My eight year old loves Minecraft, so he spends his reading time deep in books about how to build things in Minecraft. Is it the best, most in-depth helpful reading? Unlikely. But has it helped his reading comprehension? Absolutely! That’s a win!
Does your child love drawing? Have her draw different things outside your window or that she sees in a book. There are a million other possibilities, but you know your child better than anyone. And sometimes we just figure things out through trial and error.
Now, let me take a hot minute to address behavior.
Okay, you might say to me, but I can’t try any activities without my kids whining or having a bad attitude. That’s fair, this is an adjustment for kids too. But here’s what has worked for me – any whining or complaining leads to more cleaning or “work.” Same with if they say they’re bored. If you are bored, please go clean under your bed. Even a toddler can put things in a bin.
Works every time and they learn that if they just find things to do on their own without bothering mommy all day, they will have more time to play. And since playing is creative learning, it’s a win-win! You don’t need to accept whining, at least not from anyone else. (feel free to whine all you want or wine all you want as the case may be)
Lastly, remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
You need to ration and rotate your activities to save your sanity. Some days you might get a lot done and the kids are outside and getting along. Some days might be mainly a screens day as you work on things that require no questions or regulating of others. One day you might have a lot of energy and you and the kids are jiving together, but the next day someone might not feel well and you all need some alone time. Seriously, I have no expectations for myself or any other parent at this time. None of us have all of the degrees of everyone in a school, so how could we possibly teach them all the same things? We can’t and that’s okay.
Listen, you are doing a great job and we will make it through this, no matter if you choose to follow a strict schedule or not. And what your kids will remember most is how much time they got to spend with you.
Well, that and the increase in snacks.