When faced with a pandemic and a Stay-at-Home order, neither rain, nor lice, nor homeschooling can bring down the mighty QuaranTEAM.
I’m a stay at home mom with four children, ages 2,6,8 and 10.
Our spring break started with lots of cold rain, lice, and a pandemic…one by one things started to get canceled, and then I realized that the kids were not going back to school, and I would be supervising their education. Panic struck because I used to homeschool, and it was chaotic. I could never get children to actually do the work. Day after day would go by, and the checklists just sat there unchecked. So when I found out we were up for another round of this, I set my expectations low. Like really low. I made my goal to find joy in every day and not to yell at my kids about school work.
Things that helped:
A checklist instead of time blocking. Time blocking sets you up for failure when the inevitable chaos presents itself. Instead, I made a checklist for each child to make sure essential tasks were accomplished.
Messenger Kids on each child’s kindle. This was new to me. It is an app that enables my kids to video chat with approved friends and family. I was able to email grandparents the assignments, and they would work with one child on chat while I worked with another. After school, they could chat with their friends and get some much needed social time.
Mandated exercise. We did not attempt school until everyone had done a few laps at the track. My husband helped with this by taking the older boys on walks before he left for work. They just can’t concentrate without at least 30 minutes of movement.
Making time for joy. I’m usually so strict about sugar, but we went on a few joy rides and hit up a drive-through for a slush or ice cream. We threw rocks in a lake and stopped to do little projects when the children expressed interest. We baked brownies and cakes and cookies. We started a raised bed garden and identified birds that took up residence in a birdhouse my 8-year-old made at school. Quarantining became mostly about our QuaranTEAM.
You know what? It was a great first week. The kids did their assignments and enjoyed their time in the Zoom room with their classmates. Was it stressful? No. But it was really busy. I was busting my tail all day, working harder than ever before. But honestly, the hard work felt good. Did they watch a lot of movies? You bet. After lunch each day I retreated to my rocking chair with my 2-year-old and let the older three have at it. It’s been a great reward that the kids look forward to when their school work is finished.
Strength is forged in the fire, and I can’t help but recognize that as a family, we are stronger because almost four years ago, our 3-week-old baby, Joey, died unexpectedly. As a family, we huddled together in our little cocoon of grief as we trudged our way through a painful time. It’s in the cocoon that a butterfly’s wings grow strong.
This week, while calmly delousing my four children for the second time in two weeks, I realized that I’m cashing in on my pain. I’m able to embrace the ambiguity that sometimes I will feel strong and peaceful, and sometimes I will feel anxious and sad, but I’m giving myself some credit. I’ve done hard things before, and I can accept this next challenge. This is a hard stretch but it’s not the only stretch. A new normal will present eventually. For now, we’re taking it one day at a time, one hour at a time, or sometimes moment by moment. But we’re finding that joy is all around us when you expect it and take the time to look for it. Now. Back to the Lice.