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

 

A Simple Plan to Celebrate Holy Week At Home

These are anxious times, and trying to plan an entire week of meaningful activities for Holy Week because church is closed doesn’t sound appealing to many of us right now.  I have been thinking about this for a week or so now – how to pull my family into Holy Week in a way that is thoughtful and yet not overwhelming.  This would normally be a busy time for us outside of our homes as all three of our children sing for our church’s choir and there are many liturgies this week.

For me, I think it comes down to knowing that church isn’t a building, but a community of love and grace that exists outside any walls.  It exists inside my heart.  So  outside of our own individual spiritual work and livestreaming our liturgies, our Holy Week will include the following –

Today, beautiful Palm Sunday – We will hang palms snipped from our inside palm on our front door.  We will livestream liturgy from church and enjoy the beauty of creation in our neighborhood.  A possibility for those of you with small children would be to create a beautiful Easter garden with fast-growing wheatgrass – it should be sprouted by Easter to show new life.

Holy Monday –  Show gratitude.  Make an Easter candle that you can leave on your table unlit until Easter Sunday.  If I had walnuts in the shell, I would make the little walnut boats with melted beeswax and a birthday candle in it and let my children play with this as a contemplative exercise outside on the patio.

Holy Tuesday – Listen to the birds sing.  Have a special gratitude jar for this week and remember the wonderful things of light in our life and in the world.

Holy Wednesday – Dye Easter eggs because it’s a family tradition.  Do a Stations of the Cross service at home. I have pictures I can use, and this is my favorite Stations of the Cross for Global Justice and Reconciliation

Maundy Thursday – This is usually the time of foot washing and the stripping of the altar. It is one of my favorite liturgies outside of Easter Vigil, so I will be livestreaming it.  I have seen suggestions to wash one another’s feet at home and to strip down a table in the home, etc.  These suggestions for some reason do not resonate with me for home.  I am going to keep thinking on this one.  We will have a simple meal, probably soup.  My parish always keeps watch through the night with the entire church body taking shifts at the church to pray, and that could be done at home by setting an alarm and waking up to pray.

Good Friday -We will be reading The Passion and the solemn collects found in our Book of Common Prayer.  This is a day of fasting.

Holy Saturday – At the Easter Vigil at home we will lit our Easter Candle and renew our baptismal vows.

Those are just a few of my ideas – I would love to hear what others are doing!

Many blessings and stay safe,
Carrie

 

5 Things You Can Learn From Veteran Homeschoolers For Your Pandemic Homeschooling

I truly hope that the millions of people forced into helping their children learn at home right now don’t think this is normal homeschooling. It’s so far from it! Homeschoolers are generally out in the community for learning and to be with each other. Some homeschoolers do choose to learn on line, but most of us create lesson plans or follow something so that we are homeschooling for up to 4 hours a day and on to the rest of our lives after that. Some of us do work around homeschooling, but this is something that is planned, and we aren’t thrown into it. So needless to say, pandemic homeschooling can be so stressful!

However, I do think there are five things you can learn from your veteran homeschooling friends (besides how to hide in the closet with the secret chocolate stash). Hopefully these will help you as now most states are finishing out the school year at home, many with shelter in place orders:

  1. Get dressed. Yes, you can homeschool in your pajamas and we frequently do in the winter, but trying to set a new rhythm for learning at home sometimes can seem more serious and worthy if everyone is up and dressed.
  2. Figure out how to get movement into your school day. Many of the schools are on-line at this point, including some with live classes running all day. That’s a lot of sitting and can be a lot of eye strain! So starting the day with a walk, taking breaks between classes, moving a laptop or tablet from room to room for different classes or even outside can all be helpful. You can also plan movement breaks after school. Some people have large yards or land, which is great, but some of us are sheltered in apartments or have a small yard. You can try Cosmic Kids Yoga online, lead a game of tag or sardines or a dance party or a pillow fight.
  3. Plan your work day around when your children need you most. If you have small children, they are going to need more help than a high schooler. You can adjust your work day by working earlier or later, switching with your partner if you have a partner in the home, or just planning work and school increments. Veteran homeschoolers are often working with multiple children coming at them with varying questions and projects along with all the household chores. Folding laundry and doing math problems together, for example, is common. Veteran homeschoolers are used to interruptions and rolling with it, and you can do that with all household things but not so easy with online meetings and online work – so try to plan the best you can in increments to alternate meetings/work and schoolwork and helping your children. Increments are okay, things will get done!
  4. Put your children in charge of doing things around the house. Everything cannot be on one adult trying to work and direct learning from home. Everyone needs to pitch in for laundry, meals, and nourishing care of the home. Try a crockpot or instapot to cut down on some of the meal preparation time.
  5. Pull out toys and things to do so your children find something to do when they are waiting for you to check their schoolwork or to help them. Learning how to wait is something that traditionally homeschooled children have to learn as well. You can rotate small boxes of toys and pull thing out so something new and fresh is out every few days. Invest in some art supplies, crafts, puzzles, yard toys, or things for inside your apartment for movement as it will help save your sanity in the long run.

Last of all, have as much fun as you can. These times are hard and uncertain, but it’s a gift to be with our children and safe if we are able (I know not everyone is able, and some parents come home to being on quarantine due to their high risk jobs). Give yourself some slack, and know you are doing the very best you can do right now in this moment.

Many 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