Tag Archives: schedules

Keep picking yourself up

Yesterday was not so amazing. Actually, it was pretty awful.

I won’t go into details, but lets just say the grey seep of four straight days without sun or the feel of fresh air on skin took over our brains and made the three of us into angry little grumps.

“Little” is the key word in that phrase, because that’s what it felt like. We were all being little, no one was willing to step up and be the bigger person. I know it’s my job to be that person. I’m the mom. I’m the adult. But yesterday I just didn’t feel like adulting for my kids. I wanted to adult with other adults. I wanted to bury myself in my work and have work-related conversations with other work-minded people sharing the same kind of work as me. And I realized this morning as I lay in the dark before my alarm went off: I’m having a hard time adjusting to being the adult alone in the house with two kids all day. And my husband, bless him, is doing his best to understand where I’m coming from each evening when he comes home. But he has his own stresses that aren’t being addressed.

My kids need me to stand up and be a big person. That’s what I think yesterday was about. They were looking for guidance in this strange new world and they weren’t finding any.

They don’t want to be with me all day, but they need me to show them how to get through this. They miss their friends. They miss their freedom. They miss the routine of school even though I’ve set up the same basic routine at home. They are doing it alone, without their friends to crack jokes with or work on projects with or head outside for recess with. I miss all the same things and I’m not doing a good job of finding alternatives to what I’ve lost.

And with the return to school now extended until May, we are facing an even longer time without our own lives. We have to find a way to make it work together.

I’m looking into technology to get ahead of this a bit. It won’t be the same, exactly, but it will be something. At the start of all this, my son had plans with a friend to build some stuff (not sure what) out of cardboard boxes he’d found in our shed. He can still do that, but it will be over video chat with his buddy.

My daughter is still texting and video chatting with her friends, so she needs little encouragement to carry on her social life.

And school and the programs they were in (theatre and soccer) are starting to come online with schooling, fitness and skill training, and script and dance rehearsals.

Though this adds another layer of scheduling and organizing to to my days—managing each kid’s online access and making sure they are logged in to the appropriate platform at the appropriate time—I’m going to do my best to roll with it. Hopefully, in time, my kids will learn to manage those things themselves (the technology and the scheduling).

There will be stumbles, but the important thing is that we pick ourselves up and keep going.

Course correction

Yesterday was amazing. I set new ground rules going into week three (this is an organic process). We had a morning meeting and talked about what my expectations were for each day as we head back into more structured learning, and my kids were, surprisingly, on board. Then we jumped right into learning for them and work for me.

They have probably been feeling a little lost with all this free time. I’ve been reading up on the wonderful ways that social isolation is helping kids. And an abundance of free time is something that is extolled by professionals as the path to executive functioning skills in kids.

I was never one to keep my kids inside and away from independent roaming of the neighbourhood when they had free time, nor did I structure their time at home, but my kids were pretty scheduled outside of our home life. And with all that gone, they have free time in abundance.

The first two weeks at home were spent thoroughly enjoying that free time. But because they have spent so many years scheduled, that free time had turned into a drag once the novelty wore off.

And it coincided with the school board starting to put plans in place to carry on learning in a virtual environment. So I felt the need to get my kids back on track. But…

According to Lenore Skenazy’s article in the New York Post:

As for parents worried that all this non-academic time is dooming their kids’ futures, research at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that the kids who have more free time to create and structure their own activities develop stronger executive functioning skills — that is, better planning, problem-solving and follow-through — than kids whose lives are more continuously structured by adults.

Putting that into practice in my house has meant clearly defining three expectations:

  1. Complete a minimum of one hour of learning/school work
  2. Complete chores assigned by Mom
  3. Practice skills (soccer and rehearsing for play)

No phones or screens until all three are done (with the exception of the laptop for research if part of the learning component).

I left them to it and went back to my desk. And they spent the whole morning working together on a project about lowland gorillas.

They planned it out, did the research, wrote the material, managed each other’s expectations and even recognized when they’d had enough of working together and decided to take a break.

With that sense of ownership over their learning and their morning, they helped with lunch and then moved on to the other two expectations without complaint before settling in for a couple of hours of free screen time in the afternoon.

I got a ton of work done, and not just because they were busy doing their own thing, leaving me with uninterrupted time, but because my veins weren’t coursing with stress hormones from trying to manage them and worrying about them getting into fights or hurting each other’s feelings.

So, not only is this “course correction”—as Lenore Skenazy calls it—good for kids, it’s going to be great for the adults, too. We need it as much as the kids do. We need to learn to let go, to let kids figure it out for themselves and to work through hard problems. This is a small silver lining in this terrible situation in which we find ourselves. But it’s a good one.