We are living in a time that I never could have imagined. Covid-19 has definitely shaken up all of our worlds, for better and for worse.
Like most you, our spring was supposed to be filled with things like volleyball and baseball games, father-daughter dances, mother-son dances, Easter egg hunts, birthday parties, Preschool milestones that break my heart to miss. Carly's 10th birthday happens to fall on Easter this year for the first time in her life, and she had planned to get Baptized on that day, making it one of her Best Days Ever. Every day, things change so drastically in our country, our state, and our home, it's hard to keep up! It brings tears to my eyes just seeing it all here in black and white.
We are concerned about friends and family for a million good reasons. For the first time in my life, the grocery stores are literally OUT of things that we NEED. School is being completed at home, in our case on-line. I have wondered what it would be like to homeschool, but never ever ever thought I'd really get the chance to try it.
While, so many things are changing in our grown-up world and in our kid's world, I want to write about preserving their childhood and surviving and possibly even thriving through this time together.
Everyone is different (thankfully so!) but this is how Mike and I are loving our kids at this time with all the unique challenges that we are facing.
1. We rarely turn on the TV while they are awake, unless it is to watch a family movie. They are all very well aware of what is happening and what they can do to help what is happening, but they don't get to watch a lot, somedays no TV. I hope in the long run we are not doing them a disservice, but I want to protect their childhood for as long as we can. I want them to be educated and aware, but to be able to focus on other childhood things too.
2. We are spending a ton of time outside. We ride bikes, scooters, sidewalk chalk, football, baseball, golf, jump on the trampoline, play cards, read books, etc. If you live in a place where you can get out - GO! From all that I have read, sunshine and fresh air are definitely needed.
3. We try to keep a problem-solving mentality. We have a 4, 7, 9, and 13 year old in the house. There is always a problem. A cooking problem, a laundry problem, a technology problem, a bike wreck, a kid who isn't motivated, a kid who is crying over how to be "tacky" for tacky Tuesday, a dog who pottyed in the floor on a rainy day, a kid who misses friends, and kid who is way past due for a nap, a broken plate or 10, Rice Crispies spilled EVERYWHERE, a kid who is nervous about making a flip grid, a mom who isn't sleeping well and looses patience and makes a sweet kid cry....you name it! We've got it!
Instead of being overwhelmed by the problems, I constantly find myself saying, "Okay. We have another little problem. How can we solve it? What can we do that will be helpful? How can we be helpers to each other? We are being given an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY to teach our kids how to problem solve, to work as a team, to ask for help, to give ourselves breaks. Don't miss your opportuntiy to teach your kids amazing life lessons on how to navigate life in a storm! They are watching and learning from us!
4. Give BREAKS. Give yourself breaks. Give them breaks. It's okay to take a walk alone or take a bath alone. Put your kiddos to bed EARLY and give yourself time to watch the news and then relax if you can! Let your kids have breaks. If they are frustrated with school, don't force them to keep working. I'll say to mine....go, get a break. Come back and start again when you are ready.
5. Keep on your discipline game! Now is not the time to be weak. One of mine was fussing and fussing and fussing over school work. Not the work itself, but getting the work PERFECT. Redoing and redoing videos, so afraid of making mistakes. Making such a fuss over getting things exactly right. Taking FOREVER on things that should have taken minutes. He got sent to his room. He came back fussing again. I said, "This is your last chance. School is a gift to us. If you fuss over this again, your opportunity to have school today is over. You either get your work done without pouting, or you spend the day in your room." Once he realized school could be taken away, his attitude has completely changed. He gets his work done and he does not complain. Be soooo careful with your threats. I knew when I said school will be canceled for you today, I had to be prepared to DO IT! Do not discipline out of anger. Don't be too harsh! But... don't turn to mush now! Kids want and deserve discipline, even in tough times. They respect their teachers, they don't waste their teachers time, they know how to act...they can do that at home too!
6. Give a ton of extra love! Hugs, Lots of high 5s, I knew you could! You're learning so much! I can see your brain growing! I love how you just problem-solved! I love how you aren't giving up! I'm so proud of you! I know I can count on you to be successful! How can I help you get through this? Be their BIGGEST cheerleader! That's what they are going to remember.
7. Focus on what you do have. They are all missing friends, teachers, sports, activities etc. And it is okay to take time to be sad about all those things. Cry about them even. Let them have all their feelings, sympathize, console, relate, let them know you are SO sad too, but then help them focus on all that they do have today. How can we recreate at home some things we are missing? Can we have our own dance, our own graduation ceremony, our own water day? Can we still put on the PROM dress, take pictures, and have a family dance party? I'm not trying to be insensitive to anyone and the things we are missing, (Many are devastating!) but can we come up with a decent plan B that could possibly be even more memorable?
8. Don't be too focused on what everyone else is doing. If you hate arts and crafts, please don't feel like you need to be an art teacher all of a sudden. Every person feels very much lacking right now in one way or another. Be the BEST version of YOU! Do things with your kids that YOU can handle and ENJOY. Skip things that aren't your cup of tea. Give your kids space to do things that they want to do! We are guilty of running our kids from one thing to the next. I think they are actually LOVING a break from the Go-Go-Go! I give them a ton of time to pursue their own interest. I'm learning A TON about each of them! Boredom is definitely sparking a ton of creativity at our house.
9. We are trying to keep a routine. Some kids are doing better than others, but I still make them start school by 8:00, get dressed, brush teeth, snack at 10:00 lunch at noon, dinner at 5:00. etc. I am getting up, getting dressed, make-up, etc. I feel like me and my family are BEST with an un-perfect, not rigid, but somewhat "normal" routine.
10. Do your best to focus on the goodness of this time at home. It is stressful. It is uncertain. There are so many unknowns. But, there are countless blessings to having kids in the home at this time. I love to look for the good. I try to stay in the moment. One of my favorite verses is in the book of Matthew is, "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Man, has that ever been more true! Focus on TODAY!
We've got this. We can do this. When we completely fail, lose our patience, let worry get the best of us, let's give ourselves GRACE. Forgiveness. Tell your kids, "I am so sorry! I was wrong! I made a mistake. Please forgive me. I promise, I am going to do better next time." Teach them humility. Give yourself forgiveness and compassion. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE is nailing this! We are ALL falling short one way or another. And that's okay. We are all learning and growing and changing.
I feel certain that we are all going to come out of this wiser, kinder, more prepared, more grateful, more loving, and more prayerful than ever before.
I love you guys. When I write, it gives me a sense of accountability. I feel like it helps me think about what I need. When I get waaaaay off track....I can hear myself and the words that I have written, and get my train back on the tracks, so to speak. I see all of you! I see the AMAZING things that you are doing for your families and for each other and I am so, so, so PROUD of YOU!!!! My faith in humanity is growing as you are sewing masks, teaching your kiddos, forcing yourselves to STAY HOME even when you hate it, delivering gallons of milk and meals to neighbors, creating beautiful scenes and activities around your neighborhoods, calling to check on your families and friends like never before. You are growing. We are growing. Together, we can do this!