My daughter started remote learning on Monday and I was super nervous about it. I’m pretty sure i’m not alone in that, either.
Most of us who work from home have been straddling working from home with kids underfoot and everywhere else like we’re standing on top of a fault line. There could be an earthquake at any minute and when it happens we’ll be pulled in every direction so we need to do everything in our power to stay standing.
I mean, at this point an earthquake would seem like par for the course in 2020.
But in my life, the earthquake is the beginning of the school year.
Can you relate?
So this week as my daughter went to her first day of online, remote school, I wasn’t just nervous. I was terrified.
We’re only 3 days in and I’m already breathing easier.
Not because of what her teacher has done or how my daughter is handling it, although both are doing pretty well adapting to this new way of teaching and learning.
Because I’m getting more clear with my own boundaries and being intentional with my self-care again.
Let me back up and say that when schools first shut down, I tried and failed to do much in the way of homeschooling. My husband was deployed and I was solo parenting while trying to keep my business afloat and my sanity intact. I did little bits here and there but mostly, they received their education from PBS KIDS and occasional zoom calls with their teachers.
I was glad when our district finally created a remote option but really worried about how it would impact everything else. Truthfully, I still don’t know.
This first few days have had loads of ups and downs and tech glitches. Milly’s teacher is doing her best with 24 kids in her remote 2nd grade class. Milly is doing her best to adapt to this new way of learning, even though she is easily frustrated by tech glitches.
On my end, remote school requires a decent amount of immediate attention from me, especially if something goes wrong or Milly gets frustrated because she can’t figure something out.
It means I have to be available, even when I need to get work done. And I don’t have all of the answers.
We’re figuring it out together.
In order to maintain my own sanity, there are a few practices I am committing to everyday so that I feel less stress about remote learning. And about having my kids being home all day, every day still, going on 5 months now.
4 ways I am trying to navigate the school year without losing my shit on a daily or hourly basis.
1. Creating better boundaries and holding to them to support my health
For me this means, getting up when my alarm goes off. Getting on my mat immediately instead of getting online first.
Going to bed when I want to go to bed (10pm) instead of staying up to do more cleaning or work. This also means instead of squeezing in a little more work before bed, doing everything in my power to finish my work by dinner time. This is massively challenging for me. And when I am able to accomplish it, I can enjoy my evening with my family instead of feeling extra pressure.
2. Gratitude Practice
Everyday I check in with the things I am grateful for. This helps keep me in check when I start spinning my wheels and feeling stressed. I am grateful that my husband came back from training early and I’m not solo anymore. I am grateful that my mother-in-law lives close by and comes to help. I am grateful that we have access to the technology necessary to do remote learning. I am grateful that my 2nd grader can manage online learning for now. I am grateful that I am healthy. These daily, sometimes hourly affirmations of gratitude, are like a heartbeat reminding me of what I have that supports me. Connecting to that feeling of support helps me exhale when I feel the anxiety and stress start to rise.
3. Daily Joy
I spent a good chunk of the first few months of this covid-related at-home adventure, angry and stressed. I yelled a lot. When I wasn’t yelling, I was either crying or shoving my feelings as far down and as far away from the surface as I could. You can guess how well that went.
I was also in therapy, but that wasn’t really helping much either.
In the past week or so, I’ve been consciously tapping into joy in small ways. I’ve always kept a smile file, which is an energetic life preserver when I have shitty days. In the past week, I’ve intentionally sought out small moments to be silly. Like sticking my tongue out at my daughter and making her laugh. Or having a tickle fight with my son.
Yesterday I chased my kids and a friends daughter around a fairly empty playground. It felt like soup outside, so we played with water guns and I was a sea monster. We laughed as we sprayed each other with water that evaporated almost immediately.
You can’t force silliness. I hate it when I’m cranky and someone tries to make me laugh. At the same time, these small actions feel doable, even when I’ve had a rough day.
4. Beginning and ending the day with rituals
I have a pretty strong morning routine, but nighttime took a hit while my husband was away and there was no school. Now, I’m making more of an effort to make nighttime sweeter again.
We race around the house, with me holding Nettie. Afterwards, we all pick songs for a dance party and get all sweaty. This is the one I choose. I dare you not to dance to it. And if there’s time, we watch part of a movie so I can take a little break. And by 8pm, we’re reading books.
These nighttime rituals give me something to look forward to. The kids do, too. They don’t always want to do them, so I don’t push it. But having these options gives them choices for how to end their day in a more positive and fun way, which helps me, too.
I can’t say this this is a perfect system. And I’m only 3 days into remote learning with 1 kid. Check back in with me in a month or 2. I will likely have more insights. One thing I am certain of is that these 4 things will be my anchors to staying sane and steady through this semester of school at home.
Do you have kids at home doing remote learning or virtual school or homeschool for the first time ever? How are you managing this new way of learning? What practices have you added to support your sanity?
Let me know in the comments below!