For most of us who are freelancers, we are now part-time teachers too. This can be super nutty if you are like me and already have 10 other part-time jobs. Some of which are real paying gigs, but others that include house keeper, laundry doer, snack maker, dog walker, playtime companion, house organizer, etc. I will admit that some weeks and days have been more successful than others over the past two months. These tips may not work every day, as every day is constantly changing. However, I've put together a list of some ways that have helped me (and those in our house) manage the stresses of homeschooling. If they help, let me know! Also, feel free to add your own tips as well.
1. Get plenty of rest. If you stay up late, make sure to get a siesta in, or go to bed early the next night.
2. Make sure the children get plenty of rest too. Watch for irritability.
3. Stay hydrated. 64 oz of water per adult per day. Encourage a smaller amount for kids.
4. Eat a good breakfast and be open to offering morning and afternoon snacks.
5. For little kids, get the work done in the morning; as much as possible before lunch.
6. Provide great outdoor and creative activities in the afternoon.
7. Do innovative ideas like fort building, cooking, crafting, movies, etc.
8. Read at night together.
9. Get and give plenty of hugs and say "I love you" more often than you think is normal.
10. Have fun and enjoy the time. Be grateful for health and happiness.
Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini)
Over the past several years, my family has been working on finding the BEST taco night foods for healthy and delicious options. So far, we are up and down on the faux meat products. I do recommend the Morning Star and Gardein crumbles as options. However, I've really found the most delicious nights for vegan tacos to be all real food + tacos and tortillas.
Here is what we have found to work for ALL of the members of our family (man, woman, man-child):
Vegan cheese (Follow Your Heart)
*Not listed any particular order. Feel free to mix and match per serving!
I would also love to introduce you to SPOON TACOS! When you have leftovers on the table, avoid scooping them up with chips or making another taco/tostada. Instead, literally use your spoon to have the remaining foods all together. It may seem a little low brow at first, but I'm telling you, I've taught many friends and family this trick and I still get random text messages with pictures of the hilarious and fun to eat spoon tacos at the end of the meal. Trust me, you will love it, it will make you giggle, and then your belly will thank you too.
Photo by Winnie Bruce
Supposed to be my Spring Break from teaching at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Slightly annoyed by the change, but was gearing up to teach my kindergarten son, and wondering how it would all go. We managed to get everything done. I felt proud, and also thought "well, it is only kindergarten," and smiled wistfully. During Week 1 my brother arrived to come and stay with us. He helped out with the home schooling by cooking and doing funny PE exercises with the kiddo. We got a scare when my husband reached a fever state with a cold, so also during Week 1, I moved a mattress into the office room and began sleeping in our new home office/elementary school room. It was utter madness.
I don't remember.
By the third week, we found out that school would remain out for an additional month. At this point, I was also teaching online movement-based classes. My brother, husband, and I watched Tiger King somewhere in all of this, and I believe it was around this time. Teaching the classwork became easy and we developed a routine of either morning or afternoon work. We dropped off the first round of school work, and picked up our next packet. It all seemed like I was becoming a great stay at home teacher, freelance archival worker on a Reelz TV show, writer/producer at Phocus Video, and adjunct professor at SMCM.
I don't remember all of it, but this is when I got SUPER stressed out. I was trying to clean the house, work, and teach my son. At this point I had to download and print out how to print letters, because instead of doing work that was simply reviewing material, I had to start TEACHING the content. We did a really cool project this week that was a journal with baby photos and milestones. As hard as it was, it was quite lovely, and we will have it as a testament to my time spent as a home school teacher.
Luckily this was his Spring Break. It was all still stressful because I had a lot of work to get done, but overall fine. It felt like it just blended together. In hindsight, it was a welcomed break. Around this point, I moved back into my bedroom (finally), but still have a sore neck to prove I was on a floor mattress for weeks.
Was hard to adjust back to the work with him. Took a few days to get back in. Loved the weekend following Week 6, and really felt like I was getting used to having weekends off from teaching kindergarten now.
We just started and it is nuts! The work has nearly doubled. What we used to get done in a 1.5-3 hour time frame is now at 3-5 hours. Lucky this is my last week teaching at the college, and we move to finals next week. I'm not sure why there is so much work now, but I'm thinking that it may be in case Maryland schools close for the rest of the year. Perhaps they are trying to get ahead in case they close, and then move the actual school's out date up sooner?
Not sure what the future holds with this, but I am overwhelmed daily by it.
As my freelance work dwindles and changes it should get somewhat easier.
Except that I never wanted to be a stay at home teacher, and the notion of it is frustrating at times.
Also, I don't want to lose work, and I know that will become another layer of tension.
All in all, I do enjoy more time with my child. I do enjoy seeing him learn. I love watching him grow.
I appreciate that he learned to ride his bike without training wheels during my brother's PE classes. Just like that, we will keep at it, until we get it right. Or, at least until summer break.
Screen time with kids. Ugh. Am I right? Trying to navigate how much information comes to my son in a digital viewing format can be an overwhelming task as a parent. When he was 3 years old we decided to get tougher on our time allowance (which was fairly limited to PBS kids and Disney movies already) and created a firm 1 hour a day of any kind of screen. At his 6 year old check-up, our pediatrician said that 2 hours a day at that age is fine. Really?! Ok. My husband and I decided to keep it at one hour, but that was 6 months ago. During the stay at home month (so far) of the Covid crisis, we have days where the screen time gets completely out of control. We are playing Wii together, watching school assignments, doing educational games and online fitness, watching movies, and letting him choose kid friendly tv shows. What is one to do?
Well, I say lean in to it, but keep control. As we enter month two, we are getting smarter and more diligent. We've decided to pull back in some areas, and push forward in others. The pulling back is being done by scheduling Wii days and movie days. We are also putting the screens down and doing more analog projects, such as art projects and cooking. Keep in mind, those were being done a lot in the beginning, but the slacker stress has a way of kicking in when you least expect it. However, we keep trying and taking it all one day at a time.
The way that our family has fully leaned in is by taking on one of our "we should" statements that has come up frequently over the past few years, and putting it in to action. This one is "we should have a YouTube channel." So, we are doing it! My son and I were reading a book that had in it "Owie Kazowy." We loved it so much and he said "that should be the name of my tv show!" I couldn't have agreed more. He is choosing the focal points of the channel (so far those are Hot Wheels cars and tracks, stuffed animals, our dog (Violet), and outdoor adventures. For a shy kid, he is really starting to come to life when he is on camera. It is a fun family-focused project and is serving to stir up our creativity and collaboration as a collective collected inside the home.
In my mind, the development of this new brand will be a way to include lessons about social media management, and the greater rules of online behavior. He is learning how to film, edit, and curate content. He is engaged in coming up with ideas and excited to share his creations. Also, he is increasingly conscious of maintaining privacy, while also sharing content. We are all excited to see where the Owie Kazowy project takes us, and I'm equally grateful to have a collaborative focus on something positive that can be developed and shared with others during this time (and beyond).