I start each day in my sweats, with a cup of coffee, and time on the couch with my kiddos. Earlier this week I did exactly that, but there was a little added excitement to my routine — our family was featured in the early morning news segment on WDBJ7!
We enjoyed the opportunity to welcome the reporter, Katey Rosheko, into our home to discuss how we are navigating learning and working from home. What I appreciated so much about our experience with Katey is that she asked incredibly thoughtful questions, took time to get to know each of my children, and listened exceptionally well.
It was amazing that in our brief time together we could cover so much! Even more amazing was seeing how she synthesized all that we discussed into a cohesive and thoughtful news package.
Katey framed the segment by sharing the threshold concept that has been my guiding principle during our pandemic experience. “She has learned that intentionality is the only way her family can get through this season together,” said Katey.
When Covid-19 prompted school closures I was struck by the reality that this is going to be a landmark time period in my kids life. When facing a major moment or challenging circumstances I like to imagine myself in the future and consider how I want to be able to reflect back and tell the story of the present. That is how I establish intention.
When I thought that we were going to be home together for two weeks it felt much different than when we learned that it was for much longer. When I learned about the stay home order through June 12 I felt some anxiety about how we could make it all work. That is when I had to pause and consider the story I want to be able to tell.
In that initial panic I began to calm when I rested in the reality that I have an involved and supportive spouse who would help me strategize and come up with a plan. I also reached out to several mom friends who I could process with; I was not the only one feeling the intensity of the news. Feeling supported and relying on key relationships for strength and encouragement has been critically important.
I’ve gained practical advice and creative inspiration from so many. One example is Hannah, my sister-in-law. When I was explaining how frustrated Harper was getting during assignments she gave wise advice to break our assignments into chunks and to be careful not to ask either child to focus for too long. Simple, smart and easy to implement — I loved the advice!
One of the most pragmatic but helpful ways I have navigated working from home and teaching from home is by how I structure screen time. I allow my kids to watch TV (or sometimes a movie) when I have a series of Zoom calls or need to have focused, uninterrupted work time. They don’t miss me being present and I get the space and freedom needed to accomplish my work responsibilities. Win-win!
My Inner Child
Embracing my inner child has been huge during times of Covid-19! Life can be so hard and heavy, laughing and lightening up are critical. I actively seek creative ideas for how we can learn alongside each other.
This past weekend we went out in the yard and found items in nature that could serve as our paintbrushes for the day. Then, we went and made beautiful masterpieces with what was found. When I say “we” I truly mean that my hands were also covered in paint. Our discussion around the art project went from plants and nature to texture and blending color. I provided the creative framework for learning and then let their minds grow and explore as they felt led.
I also regularly enjoy dance parties with my kiddos. When things feel tense and times feel hard we turn up our tunes and let loose. I love how each child has their own musical tastes and movement styles, they crack me up! We dance our stress and angst away together. The songs then become the soundtrack of our days. I know that ten years from now when I hear Dance Monkey by Tones and I my mind will jump back to our kitchen and the laughter we shared while twisting and turning to the beat.
Another way I embrace my inner child is by being their thinking partner in their big ideas! There was a day recently in which Harper decided she wanted to come up with a business name for all the fun things she has been sewing. She named it, Sly Sewing (because Foxes are life!). After telling me all about the business idea she shared a desire to develop a logo. I realized it would be super cool if she could use digital tools to play around with graphics. I logged her into Canva, gave her a quick overview of the program, and let her get to work. She was even more excited to have ways to actively watch her big idea come alive before her eyes. Pausing, empathizing with her excitement, and giving her an opportunity to grow through play was just as wonderful for me as it was for her!
The final element of the interview that I can’t underscore enough is how fantastic my kids’ educators and teachers have been! Their commitment to love and teach our children, even from afar, has exceeded expectations. There was one day we found the surprise of a sweet note in sidewalk chalk on our driveway. Harper’s teacher hosts Zoom scavenger hunts with her class and also has 1-1 instruction sessions with each child. We even got a call from one of the principals just simply checking in and asking how it all has been going. Oh, and how can I forget about the amazing teacher parade they put on throughout the neighborhood. They are demonstrating enthusiasm and joy, even in such a hard time.
As I said in the interview, I have never felt alone in this. I have never felt like it is up to me to pass or fail as a parent or teacher. I refuse to take on that pressure. Rather, I know that I now have been asked to step up and take a more active role on the educational team.
Grace. Patience. Love.
Lastly, and I believe most importantly, I’m committed to working from home and learning from home in a way that is characterized by grace, patience, and love. None of us asked for all of this. However, we can choose to treat each other in a way that supports optimal emotional health.
One of my favorite aspects of this news story, and the beautiful package Katey created, is the title that was shared on-screen during our interview. “Mom reflects on the challenges & blessings of their new normal.” Yes, there are challenges but wow has it been a blessed experience!