I am no novice at the whole working from home thing. With McHenry, I have been doing this for around 7 years. I even worked for McHenry with a baby at home, without full time help. I know how to find hours in the day, work early and late, and how to be productive. What I was not prepared for was working from home, and homeschooling my 7 and 4-year-old daughters during a pandemic. None of us were. This is not for the weak or faint of heart.
Week one was rough, really rough. I felt like a football player who had been hit in the head too many times. We have progressed through and are certainly getting better. With about 4 weeks left until, “summer” I am confident though I can get to the finish line. We have learned from our mistakes and adjusted our game plan. Even though distant learning will end, for many of us, we will continue to work alongside our children.
Here are my take-ways:
Color-Coded Calendars Can Cause Harm: Week one of our Stay at Home Orders was filled with social media posts from the savvy moms with their COVID Calendars highlighting all the balanced schedules planned for their kids. Calendars and routines are necessary; humans respond to structure, especially kids. Making yourself crazy with calendar design though may not be a good use of time. Perfection here is not the goal. I have begun to embrace flexibility within my structure. It helps me not to lose my mind, when things are not done on time. Breaking your day into chunks helps; morning block / mid-day block / afternoon block and early evening block. What would you like to see accomplished during each block?
I also use a whiteboard, not because it looks like something out of Pinterest, but because I can easily erase it. Things that are no longer applicable or are not possible can be erased or tasks can be moved. I also do one day at a time because Monday can seriously impact Tuesday if Monday does not go as planned. Structure is important but structure is unique to your situation, and not what Karen is doing on Facebook.
Be Realistic: This is easier said than done, and I admit I still struggle with this. It is not realistic that my children will not increase their screen time, it just isn’t. It is not realistic that I will get a chance to work 9 to 5 and shower every day. We cannot have it all. We are not living in the same reality, so we have to reset our expectations to adapt to this new world we live in. Give yourself some grace and pick the things that matter to you and try and to keep those things as normal as possible, the rest of it, we have to let go.
Teach Them to Fish: Bring your kid a fish, it feeds them for a day, teach them how to make their own beds, get their own snacks, log into their own computer and you buy yourself an assistant and more time throughout your day. My four-year-old is not tech savvy, and I have to assist her with most assignments on the account she can’t read.
I have gone though from doing everything for her on the computer, to showing her how to do certain things. For example, turning in her school work involves taking a picture of her work and uploading it. She can now do this on her own.
Social Media Should not be Your Sole Source of Information: Facebook is not a viable, vetted news outlet. Social Media is not reality. It is something, and certainly plays a role in maintaining connections to those we are distanced from, but with all things that can have a negative impact on our well-being, we need to have balance. I could not take all the moms who seemed to have it so together, while I felt like I was failing. It is amazing how just deleting Facebook from life changed my outlook.
The future is unknown, and if we have our health and our safety and can continue to provide for our families, we are winning, we are knocking it out of the ball park. Parenting is hard, work is hard, teaching is hard, and it is all extra hard during a pandemic. Give yourself grace and reach out to a friend. McHenry is always a friend and we are always here.