Since March break 2020 I think I have been outside of the house less than 15 times (full disclosure: twice was to go to a rental cottage). We made the decision to keep the kids home in remote school because a> I am compromised, so getting covid would be potentially devastating or me; b> I figured in-person school would shut down & that it would be worse to have to transition the kids a back-and-forth. Sure enough, that happened.
In the spring online schooling was a mishmash of trials and errors to figure things out. The day flowed in the same way that a regular school day would and it was a super long day for the kids. In the fall they re-did their online learning and it turned out to be amazing:
– first synchronous session 9-11:00
– 40 minute break – 11:45 – 1:30
– second synchronous session until 1:30
– asynchronous learning with the teachers available to help kids with their work until 2:30+
– In the Bean’s class they even have an art program at 2pm on Tuesdays
This allowed the kids to have the same lunch at 11-11:45 so I send them out for a 20 minute walk while I prep lunch. It’s a pretty good system, really! The kids miss their friends & have had to make due with socially distanced walks (pre- stay-at-home order) and online chats where they play games or just hangout but overall, it is working well. We play a lot of games in the evening to sort of fill in around the edges for social time & we do mandate offline time where they engage in analog activities.
Unfortunately, when the in-school kids were sent home at Christmas they stuck to the same full school day they had when it was in-person. YIKES. That is a really long day staring at a screen as the school day typically runs 6 hours or so. No wonder kids and parents alike have been struggling. Today we learned that those kids will return to school on Monday.
Overall though, what I think has saved us is our routine. Sure, the school day builds in some routines naturally but we’ve also had to carve out routines for the whole family. We all roll out of bed between 7:30 and 8, eat breakfast, get dressed & brushed. While the girls eat breakfast and get ready, Mr. Tucker and I sip our coffees and chat before he gets ready for work. So while the girls eat breakfast and get ready, Mr. Tucker and I sip our coffees and chat.
In the fall, I bought the girls Big Life Journals so that they would have a prompt for their feelings and a place to write them. So they start and also end the day with journaling to write down any challenges they face. I mean sure, we do discuss their lives but sometimes you need a private place to put your thoughts (and full disclosure: I am an avid diarist & find it super helpful). If they get all of that done they are allowed to have access to their phones to chat with friends until school starts (they are pretty good at getting things done because of this!).
After school they have what we refer to as CHAMP: chores, homework and music practice. They are each supposed to practice their respective instruments for 20 minutes a day and chores can be anything from doing the dishes (they alternate) to checking the mail. Since we get weekly updates from the teachers on what assignments are due, we always know what is happening. Although, they’re pretty great at getting their projects done. After their CHAMP is all done, they have free reign until dinner with their phones to chat with their friends although the Sprout is more likely to be found listening to music and rollerskating in the basement.
Mr. Tucker and I make dinner after he gets off of work & we always eat dinner together (no devices). After dinner cleanup we usually sit down and play games together until bedtime or the odd occasion we will watch movies or shows.
That pretty much sums up our weekdays! Our weekends are more of a free-for-all as the kids have access to devices and generally spend it playing video games and on calls with their friends. We do almost always eat dinner together & we try and do a movie night.
Before the pandemic our schedule was similar but more lackadaisical. It was easier when we could visit friends, go out to restaurants and shop whenever we wanted. But since we are doing all our cooking at home but are minimizing grocery trips we’ve become better at planning. If we run out of eggs, we just eat something else until the next planned trip. We also had a no-devices-on-weekdays rule but since they don’t see their friends as often, we had to bend the rules but still maintain some offline time. But having a schedule that was more rigid in some ways but looser in others demarcates the week so we don’t all lost the plot and spend all of out time watching Netflix.
I think in terms of how we are faring mental health-wise, the routine has helped because at least we know what to expect, and when. We are also talking a lot more and discussing more mature topics than we would have had we not been stuck together more often than not. Of course, we’re still facing challenges and the picture isn’t always rosy but given the current state of the world, we’re pretty ok. Hopefully when the world gets back to normal (or a new normal) we can keep some of the positives we’ve learned such as the importance of building a good routine.