It’s been 3 weeks and there’s a bunch more to go! What am I talking about? I’m talking about virtual learning at home…aka the new normal. How has it been for you? For me, it’s been interesting! After watching some parents whose kids started school sooner than my son navigate supporting their kids at home, I was on the edge of my seat expecting a bunch of tech issues and other curveballs, but that was not the case. My issue was, and continues to be, getting my job done while my kid is home. That’s it. While I have enjoyed ‘work from home’ days in the past- this is different. It’s waaaaaay different. I am Mom at the same time I’m Mrs. Henry and that is taking some adjustment.
I’ve adopted 3 steps that have been a #gamechanger for me. They are not foolproof though, and I’ve already had to make some adjustments. However, developing a plan, leaning on my village, and taking a break have helped me tremendously. Take a read. (There are also FREE templates for you to download and use).
Get a PLAN
You’ve heard it before- If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. While it is a clichè, it is true. Having a guide, an idea, a system, a method, a routine is important. The plans I created for my son and I contain details about our day that list the tasks we need to complete
Here’s the Daily School Schedule I created for my son complete with school and homes responsibilities. We’re working on chores and paid chores at that, so the kid has to stay on top of his household duties.
Here’s what I did- I printed and placed this schedule in a durable plastic frame. Then I put one in his room (on his desk) and the other is in my work space so I can turn and look at it easily. Scroll to the bottom to download a copy of the blank template and put it into action.
How has it been working?- The first week was good; we stayed on schedule every day. The second week- not so much! Tre missed his 1:00 fitness class during week 2; probably a combination of him getting accustomed to the new routine and I was tied up in work. So we made some quick adjustments and added alarms to go off at each class time on our Amazon Echo devices. Click this link to see the guide the Hubs used to set up these reminders. We now have our own bell system and it’s great. Problem solved!
I didn’t leave myself out!- The day after I created this elaborate schedule for my son, I thought, “What are you doing for yourself?” So I quickly got my pen and paper and wrote down my responsibilities and the non-negotiables that are important for my everyday life. The result was a personal schedule that I refer to as my routine. Unlike the schedule for my son, my plan does NOT have times listed. Why? I need the freedom to handle some tasks at 6:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m. This way of life works better for me. Scroll down and download a copy of the template for yourself. Add times if that works for you.
If you think it takes a village to only raise a child, think again! It takes a village to raise a parent. Can I get an Amen! I know asking for help is not always easy…it is necessary. And that help can come in different forms based on what your needs are. It can be help with childcare or help with navigating the technical side of virtual learning or help with day-to-day tasks. Whatever it is, I encourage you to speak up and ask for the support you need.
Lean on your village– Being quarantined for so many months can make you feel you are alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You have a village. It could consist of family or close friends, or even neighbors. Enlist their help when you want and when you need it. As parents we put so much of our energy and attention into the needs of our kids that we forget about our needs. Leaning on your village could look like a phone call, a socially-distant visit, a walk, or a text. Take the step to share what you need help with.
Get a BREAK
Being home with your kids 24/7 can become exhausting, annoying, frustrating, and overwhelming. There were days when I was between calls for work, Zoom-ing my life away, and helping Tre manage virtual summer camp, now school when I was thinking, I NEED A BREAK. It was in these moments I realized I needed to take a moment to step away from my workspace and my kid to regroup.
Find the time to take a break- You’ll have to determine what your break looks like in real life. What I am suggesting (more like demanding) is that you take one. Grab a power nap in the middle of the day, step outside to have a phone call with a friend, scroll social media, put the kids to bed early and catch up on your tv show, attend a virtual DJ party (thanks D-Nice!), go for a drive to nowhere, walk the aisles of the grocery store alone or go for a walk. Do something.
Focus on you during this time- When you can get this break, make it about you. Try your best to turn your mind off of what everybody else needs and think about yourself, or better yet, think about absolutely nothing. Slow down your breathing and relax for a few moments. Try this breathing technique- breathe in for 3 seconds, hold it for a moment, then breathe out for 5 seconds. Sounds weird, but it tricks your mind and causes you to focus on your breathing. Adjust the seconds and come up with combinations you like; in for 2…out for 4. There is a technical method for this breathing technique (4-7-8 Breathing Technique); I flipped and recreated it for me!
Feel free to download and use the templates. I posted the templates online and there was a lot interest from parents. To date, I’ve emailed over 30 parents and they have put either the kids schedule and/or the adult plan to use.