I’m sitting in my kitchen typing and I can feel the walls closing in around me. Lillie has come in the kitchen about ten times. I keep redirecting her to go back to her chromebook. Ella only asked for help once so far today. Technology can be very stressful for an 11 year old trying to submit all her work online. Max has come in the kitchen a few times to tell me about Science. I am not going to complain that Max is trying to talk to me. He is 13 years old and the first thing on his list is not talking to his mom. He is a teen of few words so when he talks, I listen.
I laughed when the school said to, “Pretend my kids are in school all day.” That’s a funny statement. Maybe your kids disappear all day and you don’t see them but that’s not the case in my house. My thoughts are frequently interrupted. I frequently need to feed one of them, help them, or answer a question. Sometimes they just want to talk to me. I am happy that I can be home with them and am present for them. I know that they like that I am around. They also all have a different lunch time. If you are looking for me, I’m in the kitchen.
I just went upstairs to talk to my husband during one of his work breaks. He has so many work ideas for me. The man could totally explode my business if I let him. Seth realizes that as of now the kids are home seven days a week and working is not my priority. I love having my Whinypaluza business for me, but I’m not looking to work a lot of hours right now. He just told me I have had well over 3.6 million views of my vlog so thank you so very much to everyone who is watching, sharing, and supporting me. Whether you read my blog, watch my vlog, listen to my podcast, buy and read my Whinypaluza book, like or comment on something I post, I truly appreciate you. All of what I just listed is supporting my business. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
It’s 8:30 PM and Lillie just asked me for cheese and crackers. I told her the kitchen is closed and I’m tired of waiting on her. She thinks I’m mean. I’m going to type and get in my own world and ignore everything going on around me. We have to find little ways to help us cope all day. Coping skill number one for me is typing away. Coping skill number two was saying no to Lillie. I don’t have to give them everything they ask for all day. Coping skill number three tonight was singing with Cami Clune on The Voice. Cami is from my town and is so talented. I was going to go ask you to vote for her but I’m sad to report that she didn’t make it to the next round. I really thought she could win this whole thing. I think America got this wrong.
Ella is feeling the stress today too. She has been very cranky. She woke up in a mood not wanting to go to virtual school all day. I told her to take a mental health day. She didn’t take the whole day, but she did agree that she was going to sign off at 1:00 and spend some time destressing before working on her homework and getting online for theater class. We can all just do our best to help our children through this. When they seem stressed out, we can help them try to figure out what will help them. If they don’t know, we can give them suggestions. I’m glad I suggested some mental health time for Ella today. I will say that if I had my way, there would be NO homework ever. There are so many other things that I would rather see my kids doing after school that doesn’t involve doing homework.
I’m with my family all day every day. My ability to cope depends on the day, the hour, the minute. Sometimes I feel as though it’s all going smoothly and sometimes, I feel like there is no where to go. Sometimes I am cooking them chocolate chip waffles and smiling and serving them a great hot breakfast. Sometimes I can’t believe I have to cook for them again. Sometimes I am on a roll and the laundry is all caught up. Sometimes I can’t bear to look at another load of laundry. Sometimes I pull out a fun craft to make with my girls. Sometimes, Lillie asks me to come make slime with her and I just want to finish wrapping presents. It all depends on the moment, my energy level and my state of mind.
I told you that my kids are home seven days a week. We literally just received an email from school that the kids can return to hybrid next week. Does anyone besides me feel like they are on a roller coaster ride? Do we really think they are going back to school next week? Are they going to pull this off? It’s like we don’t know what’s going to happen next. I’ve never been more thankful that I am home with my children than I am this year. My heart sincerely goes out to working parents who can’t work at home who are constantly trying to figure out a new schedule with the ever-changing school schedule. One day at a time, we will get through this crazy roller coaster ride.
My kids are completely stunned that school is starting again next week. We all expected them to go back in January after winter break. I’m just trying my best to ride the wave and go with the flow. They could go back Monday and then they can decide to close school the following week. I know there are a lot of you who chose to do remote learning partly to keep it consistent for your children. For me, it is a very different story! I will send my kids to school whenever they are allowed to go because there is nothing like learning in person (just my opinion). Ella and Lillie are not fans of remote learning. I am truly impressed with my son for his ability to adjust to remote learning so well. My easy going, calm, smart, low maintenance son has no problem being home every day with his family doing remote learning. I think my girls can’t wait to go back to school. I think Max would prefer to stay home and I will discuss this further with him and his father. We don’t have to decide the same thing for all of our children. You may have one child thriving with remote learning while their sibling is struggling.
What is going on with the parents right now? Where I live, some parents are itching to send their kids back to school and are wondering what is taking so long. Some parents are absolutely floored that school is opening next week and they do not think it is safe for their kids to go back. Some parents won’t send their kids back to school right now and some parents will kick their children out the door. Do I think that there is a right or wrong answer? I don’t think either of these parents are right or wrong. I think that you truly all know what is best for your family and your children.
Let’s talk about the teachers. The teachers seem to have zero input on whatever happens next. They seem to be finding a lot of stuff out with the parents. I know that some teachers are wanting to get back to school next week and some teachers and staff do not feel safe going back to school. I take my hat off to all the teachers. You never know what’s coming. You don’t know exactly what to plan for. I know a lot of you don’t think you are doing a good job. I am telling you that you are. You are in my home all day. I hear Ella’s teachers in my dining room. I hear Lillie’s teacher in my family room. Sometimes I even hear Max’s teachers in my kitchen or playroom. I am certainly never alone. I have kids and teachers in my house all day. I hear you engaging the kids. I hear you making your best effort. You are doing a great job! Thank you!!
I had a long talk with Ella at dinner tonight. I know she had a rough day of remote learning. I know she is cranky. I gave her a bit of my mom 44-year-old perspective. I told her how thankful I am that we are all home together and healthy. Seth told me that only goes so far for an 11-year-old perspective, but I tried. I even tried to go over some coping strategies with her. She asked me for some coping strategies to help her.
Coping strategies to help you with the roller coaster ride we are all on:
- Write your feelings down.
- Dive into a really good book.
- Watch a good movie with your family.
- Work on a puzzle.
- Find a new hobby / activity. My husband recently started playing the guitar. I started jogging again and I started listening to Podcasts. I want to learn how to knit.
- Play a family game.
- Take a long walk outside regardless of how cold it is. Bundle up and get some fresh air.
- Breathe! Take some deep breaths.
- Choose your words carefully. How we think affects how we feel.
- Reach out to a friend. Talk to someone.
- Sing / Dance! Play good music
- Punch a punching bag – take a martial arts class.
- Binge watch a new tv show.
- Take a break. If you are working all day, take a little break and walk around. Get a cup of coffee. If you are on school all day, walk up and down your stairs during a break. Take your eyes off the screen for a few minutes. Do some stretching at your computer.
- Fidget toys! This is a favorite in my house right now and we keep acquiring more.
- Connect with a good therapist, social worker, psychologist, guidance counselor….
- Focus on what you are grateful for. Very hard to be stressed when you think about your blessings. I think about my husband, my children, our parents, our friends, our pets, our house, our food, our clothes, our cars…..
- I tell myself that, “I get to go to Wegmans and buy my family food.” Instead of, “I have to go grocery shopping.”
- I tell myself, “I’m glad my children get to go to school two days a week.” Instead of, “My kids only get to go to school two days a week.”
- I was listening to a Podcast today. The lady was talking about how she knows it’s a stressful time but that she sees some benefits too. She explained how much less car time she has working at home. She explained how much more time she gets with her spouse. “I get to spend more time with my spouse and children.” Instead of, “I’m not allowed to go to work.”
I would love to hear you change a negative into a positive. Please share with me. I would love to hear how you are mentally doing and how you are helping yourself coping with the roller coaster ride we are all living. If you are having a hard time, please know that you are not alone. If you don’t feel safe sending your kids back to school, don’t send them back. If you are excited to send your kids back to school, I hope that it continues. I wouldn’t get attached to anything. If you are doing full remote for your family all year, I hope the consistency is going well for your family. I want us all to be successful. I want us all to get through this together. I know that it depends on the moment, but I know that you can do this. I am here for you.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R