Day 21 as a FTWFHHS Parent (Full Time, Work From Home, Home-Schooling Parent)
I’ve always worn multiple hats. The ones I’m proudest of are: Mother, Wife, Marketer, and Community Advocate. However, in the last few weeks, some new hats were added to my resume, and they all got stacked on top of each other.
I’m not going to lie: It’s been tough
And while I appreciate that we’re all in this together this is the most isolating, trying time of my life personally and professionally and I’m sitting from a position of privilege. My husband and I both have jobs. We both have a laptop our kids can use for school. We’re healthy. We have great employers who are empathetic.
But it’s still hard.
Through these last few weeks, I’ve found a few anchors to help us navigate these waters. These are approaches we’ve developed to make our house a little less stressful during these times. I hope in some small way they help you if you’re a newly anointed FTWFGHS Parent, too.
Schedules Create Certainty. This isn’t to be strictly enforced. It’s to create certainty during a time of uncertainty. The kids find comfort in knowing what is happening next for the day, or what COULD happen next. The schedule is there to guide our day constructively.
Report Cards Aren’t about Grades. We do daily report cards at our house. This is more of a check-in than anything. It allows us to make sure our kids are learning something and they’re doing alright emotionally. One of the subjects is “Attitude” and this is usually a way for us to check in on their feelings. If they have a low attitude score for the day, we unpack that. Were they tired? Are they sad? Are they scared?
Little Things are Big Things Now. Setting milestones (big and small) is important. The rewards don’t always have to be a treat, either. If the kids have a good day, we might let them stay up late and watch a movie, let them pick a board game for the family to play after dinner, or let them choose the dinner for the following night, etc. At the end of the week if they both have a good report card treats are bigger: ice cream sundaes, FaceTime games with friends or 1:1 hike with mom or dad (which, honestly is the biggest treat we’ve found).
Learning Does Not Always Require a Screen. I emailed both of my kids’ teachers and let them know we are grateful for the curriculum they sent, but we will not be doing all of it. If we did all of it, that would mean our kids would be in front of a screen 5+ hours a day. That is not reasonable (hello! We need OUR screens for work during the day) nor is it healthy. We print off worksheets, explore outside, and find ways to teach in the moment (cooking is a great way to do math lessons).
You can have as much root beer as you want. I truly believe rules were meant to be bent during this time. Except the one about washing your hands, you’ve gotta wash your hands! But I’ve found that by easing up on the kids, we’re easing up on ourselves too.
Resources we value…
Slack. We created a Slack Channel for our neighbors who have kids in the same grades/school as our kids. We share our learning resources, jokes, and tragedies and triumphs together. This is an AMAZING TOOL because it doesn’t clog up your text or emails. It’s a special little place for conversations.
Zoom. It’s worth the $14/month fee. We create a daily Zoom for the kids at 1pm where they have “Wildcard Learning” with a special guest. This guest can read a book to them, teach them something new, or the kids can interview them. (We set up a Calendly account to manage their guests and shared the link with friends and family and posted on social media.) Zoom is also great for Virtual Happy Hours for mom and dad, Group Pictionary with friends of all ages (grab a whiteboard or chalkboard and use the Pictionary Word Generator website)…oh, and for work.
Calendly. This is a great way to make it easier to connect with others–to have virtual coffee dates with friends, to set up time for the kids, etc.
Moments we cherish…
It’s hard to think we will look back at this time fondly, but I wanted to promise myself that I will. I can’t remember how many times in the last few years I wished time would slow down. I wished I wouldn’t have to decide between this event or that event. Our calendars were packed, our kids were
exhausted. We were exhausted. I felt like their childhood was blurring by and I wasn’t engaged the way I wanted to be with them. So now we make sure to slow down and enjoy moments like these…
Breakfast together. Actually, lunch together and dinner together too. But breakfast is becoming extra-special. It’s followed by a walk around the block. Our bellies are full, our blood is pumping. It’s gonna be a good day. I also have time in the morning to make Vietnamese Coffee…which I could NEVER do during the week because it takes so long.
Games together. No screens, no televisions. We play Clue and Rummy 500. We also love Telestrations and mom and dad will play Dutch Blitz after the kids are asleep.
1:1 Time. This goes for each person in the house. Sometimes Mom and Dad need time alone together. Sometimes the kids need time alone together. Sometimes a kid wants time with just mom and dad. It’s important that we break up the 4-person dynamic. We do this by taking the kids for walks or on hikes just to get out of the house.
Grace is the biggest word we’re embracing right now. Sibling fights are at an all-time high. Alcohol consumption is higher than normal in our house. We are all coping the way we know how and we have to have grace to honor that. We talk to the kids almost daily to convey that we will get through this together and for the next month, we’re all we’ve got. This time together will be as good or as bad as we want it to be.
I’ve personally accepted that this isn’t the time to write the next great novel, train for a marathon, or reorganize my home. This is the time to pause, breathe, and find a way–even once a day–to enjoy the little things. Even if it means a new stack of hats you must wear all at once.