Remember that day the parent became the teacher? Who knew that when we went on Spring Break that our kids wouldn’t return to traditional schooling for the remainder of the year? The only word I can think of to describe it really is BIZARRE.
I’m mom to two girls. One is a freshman in high school and the other a sixth grader. For me, the distance learning itself hasn’t been all that challenging. Simply put, they are old enough to know that the work has to be completed. Let’s be honest, they know more than me about those subjects at this point. And truly, our school district is the real MVP here. They turned our semester from the norm to distance learning in just a few days. It was truly remarkable. They’ve provided everything they possibly can to our students within the rules of the pandemic. They met often and with intention each week to keep things moving along as smoothly as possible. They deserve a big huge hug…when that’s acceptable of course.
As parents, we are expected to help our kids navigate life. But what about when we are thrown a curve ball that we just don’t know how to catch? How many of us have worked from home (or outside of the home if you were deemed essential), played teacher, cooked or stocked the fridge for three meals a day, cleaned up said three meals, exercised daily to stay sane, kept everyone from killing each other in the middle of a pandemic where we aren’t supposed to leave our house and played that on repeat for months? That’s right, NO ONE! Mom and dad, we’ve got to cut ourselves some slack. We have worked hard to navigate all the unknowns and we’ve worked hard to look at it one day at a time. This is not normal at all. It’s tough when there’s really no one who has experienced such extreme circumstances in this lifetime. It’s weird, to say the least, but I just keep thinking there are lessons to be learned here if we lean into it.
As the new “teacher” in our home, my first reaction to distance learning was to get a schedule and hands-on activities and PE each day and a lunch time and a rest time and blah, blah, blah. I quickly realized that I needed to CHILL OUT! School at home doesn’t need to be an exact replica of what school looks like under normal circumstances. It took me getting frustrated and listening to some of my favorite “home school moms” to understand that it’s a different, beautiful beast. So, I took a chill pill and asked my girls what they felt like school should look like. It was so freeing to have them take ownership. We set a few guidelines (we weren’t going to sleep all day and stay up all night) and made some family rules and away we went.
When we felt frustrated, we stopped what we were doing and went for a walk, played Just Dance or went for a drive. We have taken some time to learn some “old school” life skills like how to write a letter and then mail it. We took the time to do things together and actually got to know each other on a deeper level. We asked each other questions like, “What is your most favorite meal that we eat at home? What’s your least favorite?” We’ve learned how to look at the bigger picture and realized, that as a family, we truly are “all in this together!”
One thing we did as a family was to look at it from all the angles. We are a family that lives a pretty busy lifestyle. We have one child in multiple sports and one child in dance and on the dance team. Our spring was looking rather FULL. As we headed into Spring Break, we knew the weeks to follow were going to be fast and furious. There were only two Saturdays on the calendar through the end of May that we didn’t have something planned. I kid you not. I can say with confidence that a lot of families live like this. Most of the time we are having a blast at one sport or the other or at a dance competition or recital, but when everything came to a screeching halt in March and we came up for the first breath of air, it felt as though we may have been living in a world where our priorities may have been a bit off.
When I say that, I’m not in any way saying we will tell our kids they can’t be involved in things, but it made us look long and hard at how we position our family with the choices we make. I hesitate to say that I’m looking forward to things getting back to “normal.” Some of the things we may need to say no to have very little to do with our kids. I’m a firm believer in seasons, and we don’t have very many more seasons at home with our kids. Maybe, just maybe, I’m the one that needs to look inward and figure out, as the “coordinator of chaos” in our home, what our priorities need to be in order to keep a slower pace. We loved our intentional family time and I want to always remember this time and how to make our way back even if things do go back to “normal.”
I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to all the teachers in East Texas who have worked tirelessly with our kids to make them successful during this time. Believe me when I say, you truly are the heroes and we are forever grateful for you and what you do. We love you!