Golden October

October is my favorite month of the year. Here in the Deep South, the days can still be so warm, the nights can be so cool in comparison( and much to my consternation in trying to determine what my horses need to deal with the weather), and the leaves are starting to turn to the beautiful golds and yellows and even brown. I have that poem by Robert Frost in my head in October:

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

But October is surely that golden period where all things are suspended in autumnal glory. I start thinking about flannel sheets, elderberry syrup, what to make for Christmas, pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins, lanterns and lights. It’s the best!

These are the festivals that are our anchors this month:

October 4th- Blessing of the Animals and the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi

October 31 – Halloween is my least-favorite holiday of the entire year (Ba! Humbug! LOL), but I love All Saints Day and All Souls Day and those are very important feast days in the liturgical year, so I am looking forward to those days and preparing for those days at the end of this month. 

The little things that make ordinary October days magic:

Playing in the leaves

Apple picking

Pumpkin farm visits

Making pumpkin muffins and breads

Longer nights with deeper and later sleep

Warming foods

Fuzzy flannel sheets

Warm teas

Lantern making for Martinmas

Finding ideas to make for holiday gifts

Things going on – Homeschooling fifth grade! We are a bit behind (of course) and finishing Ancient Civilizations and working through some Geometry. We will be ready to start North American Geography in two weeks or so, so that will be a fun approach. The stories of Ancient Civilizations have been a hit so far, and math through Jamie York’s Math Academy, while perhaps not ideal with online lectures, has also been a hit and a needed help for this working mama to help hold things together this year while I am scrambling to get the last classes in my clinical doctorate completed. We still do the math practice I set up daily and the math practice assigned by the math academy, but meeting in a small group two days a week over zoom has become a highlight for my son to connect with other boys his age being Waldorf homeschooled. We are finally getting some fraction work and long division solidified, and still working on writing and spelling (frustration). 4H has also been a hit for fifth grade this year so far, in a year where nothing is really meeting in person and things haven’t been too fun for a little 11 year old. Our homeschool enrichment days are still meeting twice a week, so that has been helpful (it’s all outside). Our high schooler is in a hybrid high school for outside classes. Our college student is still at college, and getting Covid tested weekly at her university. Other than that, work is busy for me despite Covid-19. I work two days a week in a clinic and see some private patients on the other days and that has been something helpful for our family right now.

In the dwindling days of sunlight, I am also holding on fast to time with friends we can see outside for a walk. I am a bit worried about the social isolation that will go with the inability to meet outside as much due to the weather this winter, and the impending flu season that will hit on top of Covid. We shall see what the future holds. I am thinking of working in some skiing days in a neighboring state, as that could be something different and fun for this year.

What are you up to this glorious October?
Blessings and love,

Carrie

Hello, Amazing August!

I am so excited that amazing August is almost here!  It’s my birthday month, and I will be celebrating my 50th!  Half a century of living and I know the 50s are going to be great!  Fifty brings a sense of peace in knowing yourself and what you have to offer the world, a grace that you extend to yourself and to others.  I can balance some different areas in my life probably better than at any other time in the past, because I have better boundaries so my own school, homeschooling, working part time, and having my own little business doesn’t seem as daunting (and my children are 10 and up!).  But most of all, I think the 50s as a decade are about having fun and really seizing all the moments!  I feel so fortunate to have my children be 18, 15, 10 – such fun ages as they grow up and go out into the world and I am so glad I am here to love them and help them, and  also to enjoy being with my husband and deepening our relationship of over 30 years while having a great time together.   So, yup, I am definitely celebrating my birthday week and this month!  Please go do something fun on my behalf in  your own life! ❤

The things we are celebrating:

August 6th- The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ

August 8th- My Birthday!

August 10- School starts!

August 15- The Dormition of St. Mary

Ideas for Celebration:

  • Making a  beautiful triptych to celebrate the life of St. Mary.  There are many wonderful ideas regarding this on the Internet.
  • We have about another month of tubing, swimming and water park availability to us, so we hope to take advantage!
  • Camping
  • Gazing at the stars
  • Horses!  The kids picked up polo during quarantine thanks to a friend who has a bunch of ponies, and we still have horse shows and maybe a hunter pace or something fun outside with the horses.
  • Walking in the mornings
  • Working out.  Move!  During quarantine, I have been using Beach Body (no affiliation at all, just happy to have it when I can’t go to the gym!)  Come work out with me!

The Domestic Life:

This a good time to take stock of needs for fall/winter in clothing, shoes, outside gear, school supplies, art supplies

I also think this a great time to go back to manners.  Children are often in an expansive place with summer weather and may need some help in remembering school behavior, work ethics and manners!   Rhythm is a huge help with that!  It’s a key word for this month and the structure of the rhythm of school does us all good!

Meal planning gets us through because I am too busy to have to spend a lot of time every day planning.  So, I like to plan 2-4 weeks of meals and shop in bulk!  Everyone has daily chores to help, laundry gets done and put away daily. When the margins of life are tighter and I would rather spend my free time having fun out with family and friends, then we all have to do our part each day!

Homeschooling:

We are jumping into fifth grade (for my third time!).  I am looking forward to it, and pretty much decided to start with Ancient Civilizations because that’s pretty open and go for me since I have done it before.  Our fifth grader also has a two day a week outdoor program, and I will be working those days and seeing a few private patients on some of the other days.

Our tenth grader is in an outside program, so mainly I am helping with homework there!

Our high school graduate will be starting online and at home, and then hopefully be moving into her university as COVID cases drop.

I have school work to do as well, so we will all have a time to do our homework! 🙂

Self-Care:

So, my main homework days for my own school are Monday- Thursday. I now take Friday nights and Saturdays for RELAXING.  This is a switch for me, but one thing I realized during quarantine was how little I relaxed and just hung out and puttered around and I am aiming to change that! Sundays are church days and typically busy (although we are still virtual here) getting ready for Monday and school.

My other huge piece of self care is  my supplements, eating right, and exercising daily!

I want to hear what you have learned during quarantine, how August is shaping up for you, how is school looking?  If anyone needs help with homeschool planning or planning for family life, please email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.  My rates for a half hour phone call are super reasonable and I have helped lots of moms this month!  I also answer fast questions via email for free, and always give my single moms free help.

Lots of love,
carrie

Beautiful Month of May

It’s the beautiful month of May out there and despite #covid19 and #socialdistancing (#shelterinplace has been lifted in my state with the exception of the medically fragile), the weather is gorgeous, the sunshine is bright, temperatures are in the 60’s-70’s (Fahrenheit), and we are verging on being ready to swim.  It will be very sad for us if the pools don’t open this summer, but hopeful the large lake near us will still be an option!

We are celebrating this month:

Eastertide

May 1- May Day

May 10 – U.S. Mother’s Day

May 14 – High School Graduation for our oldest!  Homeschooling is done!

May 18, 19, 20 – Rogation Days

May 21- The Feast of Ascension

May 25 – U.S. Memorial Day

May 31 – The Feast of Pentecost – you can see some beautiful cross-cultural images for inspiration

Ways to Celebrate:

These are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Hiking on The Feast of Ascension, watching clouds
  • Making Pentecost crafts
  • Gathering for May Day and dancing around a May Pole!
  • Making crafts for Memorial Day, this year decorating our own front porch and walking in the neighborhood since I doubt there will be parades of any kind!
  • Pedal toys – trikes and bikes!

These are a few of my favorite things for grades-aged children:

  • Seting up playing in the water and sand – we ordered a slip n slide for the backyard and are awaiting its arrival and a pool for our dogs
  • Observing all the dragonflies, bees, and butterflies
  • Calming rituals for rest times and the end of the day.  I strongly believe that children ages 8-13 still need earlier bedtimes and I work very hard to make that happen. Calming rituals and rhythm are soothing for sleep!

These are a few of my favorite things for teens:

  • Spring cleaning and spring decorating of the home, gardening tasks
  • Spring cooking, making special treats for The Feast of Ascension and Memorial Day
  • Planning surprise May Day baskets for neighbors, and doing things to serve others.
  • Picnics at the lake or park with #socialdistancing
  • Later night walks in the warm air – great time to talk after the smaller children have gone to bed

These are a few of my favorite things for myself:

  • Celebrating our family with family meetings and family game night.
  • Celebrating our marriage with a night out on our anniversary – this year it might just be a drive together to celebrate our 28 years!
  • Vigorously moving 5 to 6 days a week, whether that is through yoga, hiking, at the gym, or whatever I choose.
  • Drinking lots of water and herbal teas.
  • Daily Compline from The Book of Common Prayer
  • I made notes for who I am praying for in my phone with One Note and it has helped me immensely to stay on track and not forget!

These are a few of my favorite things for homeschool planning:

I am starting to work on Botany as our first block for fifth grade in the fall!  Stay tuned, as I may put it out to be able to be purchased when I am done since it’s my third time going through fifth grade.

I would love to hear what you all are up to!

Many blessings and deep peace to you, stay safe,

Carrie

Things I Am Keeping From Quarantine

We are still here in #shelterinplace. My state has been lifted  for certain businesses with regulations (except for the medically compromised who are supposed to #shelterinplace until June 12), but we are still choosing to be home, and #socialdistancing is still in place.  So, I guess our life isn’t changing too much right now.

Interestingly, it  really didn’t change a ton from before #shelterinplace.  We  were used to being home all together when my spouse wasn’t traveling, we were used to all the kids schooling here for the most part, and we were all used to taking care of the house and cooking all the meals because we really didn’t go out to eat a lot as a family (expensive for 5 people, right?) with all of us being home.  We did homeschool before, although our high schoolers were in outside classes that moved to online,  so with this the major changes were that we had less places to go, and my spouse stopped traveling for awhile.

The hardest part was not being able to see family and friends, and also the lines of school and work not having really set times as well as we normally do, especially in the beginning. It all just kind of blended in together, but putting in school and work limits are important for sanity and to not feel glued to the computer all the time.

However, what I did notice that was positive:  since there were less places to be we exercised more, we walked daily, we did more puzzles and things like that together, we baked more (good thing we offset it with exercise), and I actually de-compressed after about six weeks and watched three nights of movies in a row (unheard of) and took a few naps, which I don’t normally do!  We all also read a lot, which we normally did, but now I don’t feel like we were trying to squish the reading in amongst other things. I think we were also more intentional with our home spiritual life, since we were used to being at a place of worship each week and couldn’t go.

So, the things I want to keep from quarantine life:

  1.  Less places to run around to! I know we will be driving to outside classes again in the fall assuming everything opens up completely, but I hope to really keep all the automated deliveries of groceries and household items, to call and/or use telehealth for various medical things, to call and have shipped things like the supplements I take or contact lenses or whatever.  This will help  limit the places I go.
  2. To continue walking daily and to keep exercising at home.  I love the gym and will be back there, but I hope that will be on top of a great home routine!
  3. To put limits on the hours I work (self-employed) so I can have a good balance.
  4. To make Friday nights a crockpot  or grill dinner night and time for our family to gather – kids’ friends welcome, of course.
  5. To make Saturday a day to spend out in nature.  We usually do this, but just to keep it on my radar.  We are lucky to have a yard and our neighborhood connects to trails that we have been able to use  daily during this.
  6. To really keep connecting with the people that I have had Zoom calls with and friends that I have kept close contact with during this time.  Their checking in made a world of difference.
  7. To not put off taking vacations – this has proved we don’t know what will come, so take the vacation!   We had a vacation planned for the first time in two years when this happened, but I hope we get to go somewhere again!
  8. My newfound spiritual traditions – for my religion, using The Book of Common Prayer daily, which in the past I have gone through great spurts of diligence and not, and reading our sacred texts.

What will YOU be keeping from #shelterinplace? What are you excited to get back to?

Blessings and love, stay healthy,
Carrie

11 Lessons From the Midst of A Pandemic

I have been thinking a lot about -“what’s the lesson in all of this? (is there a lesson? Does there always need to be a lesson?)  What will the outcome be in all of this?”  as people talk about what might come out of living in pandemic conditions – will it lead to revolutionary changes in business travel, healthcare, education, the ability for rural areas in the United States to be able to access the Internet better, etc?  Will it cause people to re-evaluate their lifestyles, their level of consuming, their level of using home as a launching pad to other areas of their life – or will they just rush back to how it was before?  And, since a pandemic typically lasts 12-18 months with fewer number of cases and then spikes, what can we do  to make life seamless as things may teeter between open and closed several more times?

I am not sure of any of those answers at this point.  Some people have the privilege to “re-invent” their lives or lifestyles, and some people don’t.  That’s the unfortunate reality.  But, I think to a certain extent I hope we all come away with ideas that could at least enhance our lives wherever we are.  Here are a few ideas-

  1.  Live below our means as much as possible and have savings so when things happen and work is disrupted, we have cushion and the ability to pivot if we need to.
  2. Food storage is a real necessity, and it is important to  build it up slowly and over time.  Just adding one or two extra things into your shopping cart each time you shop can be an easy way to build up stores and not cause too much financial stress or descend into hoarding.
  3. Automate the high demand items.  I automate (have delivered) panty and cleaning items, toilet paper, etc.
  4. Learn how to garden and can food.  Nearly everyone can have some containers if you can’t plant in the ground or grow sprouts and microgreens in the kitchen
  5. Get to know your farmers that are in your area and buy direct from them.   This really saved us during this.  Drive through pick up of an order placed through the Internet!
  6.  Get outside and get in physical shape.  The sunshine and Vitamin D and higher levels of fitness help everyone’s stress levels and immune functioning.  Use all the free workouts available through You Tube.
  7. Shore up your immune system in whatever way that looks like for you.  Most of what I have been reading suggests at least Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc.  Read up on what could help you during times of illness for support as well.
  8. If you are ready, think about your lifesyle.  If you lived more simply, could you work less?  Can you work from home?  Could you have something that makes you money while you sleep?  This book is an oldie but a goodie: “Your Money Or Your Life”  available on Kindle or Audible, updated 2018 –  https://www.amazon.com/Your-Money-Life-Transforming-Relationship-ebook/dp/B0052MD8VO/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_
  9. Lifestyle can extend to school.  I don’t think everyone should homeschool, but I do hope that people can see from this pandemic experience that  learning can be more broad than just going to a school building (and that some families don’t have the tools they need to be successful at home and we need better solutions for that as a society). I would love to see more equity in school funding and more diversity toward if some children do better in a smaller setting.
  10. Understanding that family and our children are the most precious things and that time really isn’t replacable.  The simple things like walks, board games, cooking together are all so valuable.  I hope people come away from this remembering how to be together again – how to eat dinner all together again, how to just be together.
  11. The outpouring of help i have seen toward others needing food, needing help, checking in on one another and encouraging one another, the connection of friends old and new through technology and amazing and interesting  socially distant but creative ways in neighborhoods has been unparalled.  I hope that continues.

Blessings,
Carrie

Eastertide Joy In The Home

Despite #shelteringinplace with #covid19, life continues on.  Where we live in the Deep South, spring is here!  Flowers are blooming, everything is green and beautiful, people are starting their vegetable gardens.  It gives one hope just to look out and see the sun shining and the greenery!

I find this time of year, the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, to be one of my favorite times of year.  It is hopeful and encouraging and feels like new beginnings.  Being home has provided time and space for thought, and that has been helpful.  It is a great time for new commitments, new ideas and thoughts, and for really discerning the essential.

If you are looking for joyous outward ways to celebrate Eastertide, here are some of my ideas rounded up, great for life with children:  50 Ways to Celebrate Eastertide.  We usually celebrate this by hiking a lot and even camping during Eastertide, which won’t be happening this year. We have all been exercising inside daily and walking, which has helped stave off some feelings of confinement.  We are fortunate as I know some countries you need an essential worker’s pass to be out of the house and an assigned shopping day.

Schoolwork is online for our  high school senior for her outside classes; our freshman is in a four day a week program that went smoothly to completely live online classes, and our little fourth grader is still homeschooling with me.  We started a writing/grammar block, and I will be posting some pictures on The Parenting Passageway’s Facebook page and Instagram account so you can follow along!

Other than that, work continues online for my husband and we are so very grateful,  my school begins again on April 22nd online, and hopefully I will be able to see some patients via telehealth in May.  We have been busy cooking and baking, growing microgreens in the kitchen, doing puzzles, playing board and card games, studying,  painting, reading, taking walks, and checking on our horses (considered an essential activity because we own them and have to provide food).  There have been  little neighborhood activities like a “bear hunt” for the smaller children to find on walks, drives for food for our local food bank and for healthcare workers to provide meals at the hospital, a cute Easter bunny who went around to houses so children could have a visit from 10 feet away, and I hear a Kona ice truck will swing through here in the next few weeks.  Lots to be thankful for!

This Eastertide may be like no other, the future may be uncertain for many of us economically and otherwise, but I am finding the gratitude in this time before the world opens up again.

A little note from my corner of the world,

Carrie

 

 

 

New Normal

I am not sure I have “embraced” this new normal yet.  Have you?  How is the juggling going of school and working going?  There are times this new normal can feel overwhelming and anxiety-provoking.  There are times this new normal feels okay and comforting with my family and outside in my yard (and yes, I feel blessed to have a yard right now).  There are times this new normal is aggravating.  There are times this new normal feels quiet and peaceful.  All the feels!

I have seen a lot of posts asking  what one will “keep” out of this new normal.

I hope the increased empathy and kindness I have seen people give to each other in this time will stay.  I hope the outpouring of  love I have seen for all the teachers, first responders, medical personnel, environmental service workers, grocery store workers, military, farmers, and small business owner stays.

I hope the idea that being with your family (again, I understand not everyone has a loving family situation) can be better than so many of the outside activities that cause you to lose dinner together every night.  That is is okay to be home all together.

I hope the neighborliness of doing things to entertain the children stays (in my neighborhood we have had everything from talent shows on Zoom to collecting money for food for our local hospital to putting bears in the windows for a bear hunt for children).

On a materialistic note, I hope the uptick in being able to order and pick up, or the ability to use telehealth or attend religious services with on line streaming or  any of those things that brings more accessiblity also stays.  On line technology has felt increasingly important to me during this Holy Week in my religion.

So, tell me, is there anything lovely you will keep from this and be your new normal?

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Preparing For Shelter In Place With Children: What Do We Need?

In my mind, I divide supplies into three general categories: emergency disaster supplies; food/shelter in place supplies; supplies for living with children and being sane (LOL).  Here is my list, which is by no means inclusive, but  if you feel shelter in place might be coming to your city or state next, it could be a jumping off point for your own family.  Thank you to Annie @thechildisthecurriculum for reviewing my list prior to publication!

General Emergency/Disaster Supplies (staying at home, not talking about bug out bags and sheltering in the woods or car):

  • Every source says water – but I don’t feel our water will be shut off for a shelter in place order.  Decide for yourself.
  • Flashlights and batteries, camping lanterns, emergency radio – again, decide for yourself if you think your power may be shut off.
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Prescription Medicines and Supplements, allergy medicines if you are allergy prone because it is also allergy season
  • Medicine for tackling cold and flu in whatever form that looks like for your family – no ibuprofen or elderberry for #covid19 ; we typically have herbal, homeopathic, and natural alternatives on hand along with acetaminophin if needed, zinc lozenges, vitamin C, etc.
  • Thermometer – we never seem to have one so this is on my list
  • Medications for pets
  • Supplies for any females menstruating
  • Diapers if your children don’t use cloth

Food/Other General Shelter in Place Supplies

  • Produce that you can freeze for smoothies later
  • Citrus fruits generally can stay stable for awhile and are helpful for the immune system
  • Garlic, onion, ginger root, turmeric root – also stay stable for awhile
  • You can freeze butter and milk; shelf stable milk like almond, coconut, etc are wonderful – you can obviously also buy nuts yourselves and make your own
  • Bags of flour, sugar,  etc for bread making – don’t forget yeast although there are flatbreads you can make; baking soda, baking powder
  • Rice and beans
  • Tomato Sauce, pasta, other pantry meals you would actually eat
  • Bone broth
  • Cans of tuna or other meat
  • Nut butters
  • Pet food
  • Microgreen growing and seeds to grow produce in pots is most welcome
  • Toilet paper or family cloth
  • Paper towels or cloth
  • Cleaning supplies including laundry detergent, dishwashing soap or you can make your own to save money
  • Hand soap and soap; castille soap can last a long time if you get the gallon sized!
  • Vinegar has many uses and good to have on hand
  • Salt, spices

Supplies for Children:

  • Games
  • Art Supplies
  • Deck of Cards
  • If you have a yard, there are many things you could get to play with in the yard – goal nets, volleyball, whiffleball, cones
  • Doorway gym for littles or doorway swing
  • Household items for science experiments you can find on line
  • If they were in school and now have classes online, appropriate devices and/or textbooks that are required

Please add to this list and share!

Many blessings,

Carrie

Dealing With #allthefeelings During Social Distancing/Shelter in Place

In our last blog post, I tackled some super practical ideas and encouragement for being thrust into working and learning at home (you can see that blog post here), but one thing I want to talk about today is dealing with #allthefeelings amidst social distancing and quarantine.

This is a true and real thing.  We all have different personalities and temperaments, our children and ourselves included, and we all react to stressors differently.  Some children will be almost ecstatic to be at home with their dogs or cats and  activities cancelled, and some children will be absolutely bewildered and falling apart with the change in routine and rhythm.  Some parents will feel rather elated at not having to go places and will feel comfortable enough jumping between work calls and helping with lessons set forth from the school, and some parents really are feeling the complete stress of trying to handle it all.  Some parents are worried so much about the financial end of #covid19 which is so real, that it overshadows trying to work and do school.

Self care is a real need right now.   This really isn’t  just business as usual just transferred to the home.  It’s so important to include self-care as a necessity during this time, because if you can set good priorities and boundaries, you can be a calming force in your home when your child might be feeling overwhelmed.  Self-care looks like different things to different people.  Maybe it’s a nap, maybe it’s taking a walk outside if you are allowed to do that or sitting on your apartment balacony. Maybe it is a warm bath or exercising or soothing music.  Whatever that is , build it into your schedule.

Help your children. Smaller children love to hear stories, so telling stories about little animals that had to stay home  but the fun family time they had can be helpful and soothing.  Be calming and help them find stability in a rhythm that you create.  Too much time to just “hang out” often completely backfires into grumpy children and younger teens.  Having any semblance of a rhythm and balance will help normalcy.

But most of all, just listen. Listen to your children’s fears, listen to their disappointment.  This is such a huge change for everyone.  You don’t need to have the answers!  Things like, “This is hard” or “I wonder that too” or “That is disappointing” is validating along with the love language that fills your child’s cup can be very helpful.    Because it is hard, it is scary, it is disappointing to miss things.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Suddenly Working and Learning At Home During #covid19? Easy Tips to Help!

This is an unprecedented time. I was raised by my grandparents who survived the Great Depression and World War II, and I keep thinking if they were here they would have brillant things to say about how to handle the sudden closures, curfews, and quarantines of #covid19.  It’s a hard situation for working parents, for the school system and the teachers working hard to provide online lessons on platforms they may not be familar with, for the online learning platforms that probably never thought entire countries would be logging on at one time, and for parents still trying to work or take care of elderly parents or both on top of all of this during this time.

First of all, I want to be clear.  This is learning at home, but in a different way than many homeschoolers traditionally do it.  The families I have spoken with in my area who have children in public school now and who have homeschooled in the past have commented that the volume of work is high  and here at least it is  mainly on line.  Probably the first advice seasoned homeschoolers would give is not to do “school at home” but this kind of is what is  mandated by the school district for many families as the lessons and classes are online. If we pulled children out of the public school environment, we would take the time to deschool.  Homeschoolers don’t remain isolated in their homes.  And so that’s okay that this is different! It’s different for a reason!  So just breathe; you are not imagining things; it is a lot of work.  Sometimes just hearing that can make you feel a little less crazy – what you are perceiving is true.  It’s a lot, and the fact that it’s a new normal that happened very quickly makes it difficult.

However, we have to move forward into the new normal – baby steps.  I have spoken with parents who are completely worried that their children will be behind and not move to the next grade because they still have to work and maybe even leave the house to work, therefore there really is no one available to help. I know some parents I have talked to said school has taken them all day like 8-4:30 yesterday when they finally stopped, so I think communicating with your child’s teacher can be really helpful – Again, I am sure everyone is learning what the workload can be at these days at home and it’s a learning curve.  The teachers want your children to be successful! Please, please keep communicating with your child’s teachers and the school staff.  Again, I  know they want your children to be successful, and they are learning about the amount of work for home too.  Just breathe. Things are going to continue to evolve.

Expectations and framework are the most important keys to holding the space in a successful way.  Many families aren’t used to being together for long periods AND having to really get things done.  So the expectations for school and work hours need to be set.  When can children expect you to be there right with them helping them? Is there anything they can do by themselves?   When can they expect you to check their work?  What should they be doing when you are on a call?    When can they interrupt you and when can they not?  What happens if they are wrestling with their brother on the floor during your call or when they are supposed to be doing their work?  When are their breaks? If you only have one device and three children, when is each child’s turn?  It is really helpful to have the expectations written down clearly and posted up somewhere so you can just refer to that chart when things are not going well.

For example, younger children will need more of a steady rhythm and most likely more support throughout the day, especially for certain subjects. So, hopefully you know a day ahead of time what is due, if the class is online at a specific time or more self-paced work – because if you know that, you can make a schedule around that and coincide it with your work schedule if you know where your child might need more help or if you can just check after working for half an hour. Homeschoolers in general often do school during unconventional hours, so if it is more self-paced, I wouldn’t be afraid to work after work hours on the subjects that need more hand holding if that is possible with the school and the teacher.

The framework that holds all of this is important.  A rhythm that includes walks, movement, set meal times, and  breaks are really important.  Healthy snacks and water being available throughout school is also important and helps many children. Staring at a screen for long periods is hard on children’s eyes, so providing those built in breaks are important. Some children will do better trying to do online things if they are sitting on a yoga ball and getting more sensory input or a disc on their chair.

The other thing that learning at home entails is taking nurturing care of the home.  Children should be helping with laundry, meals, the pets.  It is okay if you are folding laundry during a school lesson!  It is fine to do school at the kitchen table while chopping food for dinner.  Homeschoolers multitask like this all the time.  Also please plan some fun at night together – after dinner walks outside or a lovely game night.

Some parents have asked about troubleshooting problems.  So, for example, if you have children who are fighting during school time, sometimes you can separate children if they are really bothering each other. Also, you can learn how to pace yourself and be available – it’s hard to do math with everyone at once if the age spread is wide or one child really outpaces another or if everyone is vying for your attention with questions about different subjects. You may need to seat them around a table and answer their questions in order. Sometimes older children can help younger children;  for example my high school senior is a big help with my freshman’s math.

I also usually have things out like puzzles, science kits, and art supplies for younger children when it is not their turn to be worked with. They need the direction to do something not destructive during those times of not being held in a rhythm whether its due to your work or you working with another child.

I hope some of this is helpful and applicable to your situation.   I will be running a live call to help some employees at my husband’s work troubleshoot, so if you also have questions I am happy to answer here or to try to get a call together for those interested.

This is hard, and again, quite unprecedented.  I am wishing strong self-care for everyone trying to hold the space for children right now in the middle of being stressed out!   I keep thinking that perhaps the only good thing to come out of this may be the realization of need for more funding for the schools, more appreciation for the roles that schools play for food and shelter and support for children, the importance of health care and public health initiatives,  perhaps the importance of society learning once again that families can learn to work together to reach goals.  It’s a large task and feels overwhelming right now, but I think these might be the lessons to come out of this.  And perhaps the need for society to slow down in general!

Many blessings, would love to hear your thoughts,

Carrie