~Our 19 DAY JOURNEY of inspiration, activities, and resources continues!~
If I could pick a hometown, real or fictional, it would have to be Mayberry; “where people pass by and they call you by your first name!” I love old black and white TV shows like The Andy Griffith Show and the Dick Van Dyke Show. The predictability of the characters’ lives is soothing to me. A perfect pot roast dinner is always right on time, served by the perfect housekeeper with the perfect hair, waiting for the husband who rolls in through the door at exactly 5:15pm every evening, who greets the boy who has already completed his homework, who is sent to bed promptly at 7pm to allow the adults to carry out their evening rituals. I realize that it’s fantastically absurd how picture-perfect it all is (not even getting into the gender roles), but it makes me smile, and laugh, and relax. I’m an old soul, what can I say? The truth is: I love simplicity and predictability and I try to infuse as much of it into my family’s routine as I can. We need it.
Our reality is far from that of a black and white TV classic. I am not the perfect housekeeper, I never have perfect hair, and I rarely have dinner ready on time. My husband’s work hours are as erratic as my toddler’s temper. My kids are almost never in bed by 7pm. And my evening rituals usually include dishes, that last load of laundry, and several calls for “WATER!!!!” (Just me?) And this is our “normal” life. The last two weeks have been that much less “normal” and I already homeschool!
Just with the changes of my husband working from home and our not being able to take the kids on their regular outings, our family life feels out of whack. So, for those of you who are suddenly-homeschooling and maybe even working from home to boot…. I’m guessing you could use a double infusion of simple-predictable-normal in your family life right now.
I wonder what Aunt Bee or Laura Petri would do if faced with something like what we are dealing with right now? Would they stop setting their hair? Would they opt for frozen pizza (as I did twice this week) instead of a homemade pot roast? What would Andy Griffith or Dick Van Dyke do all day working from home? Who would oversee the education of Opie and Richie? Would the house remain immaculate? There’s an episode I would really love to see.
But I digress. Back to reality! With our work and kids’ schooling suddenly housebound, outdoor recreation and outings off-limits, and just about every part of our normal schedules turned on their heads, I think most of us are feeling a bit seasick, perhaps the kids most of all. Time to be grounded. Waiting for this season to pass us by as we exist in a sort of vegetative state, waiting to be awakened from our news-stalking comas with the word that schools and workplaces are reopened? That will not do! It’s time to create a NEW-(temporary)-NORMAL.
How do we start to create a NEW-(temporary)-NORMAL? Let’s start with what normal looked like before all of this went down. In other words, use whatever your family’s “normal” was, before the spring-break-from-hell arrived, as the template for creating your NEW-(temporary)-NORMAL. What does your family’s routine look like on a typical school morning? Are your kids expected to get dressed and make their beds? Do they pack their backpacks and eat breakfast? What do you and your kids do when they come home from school? Do you talk over their day and have a snack? Do you look over their homework together? What does dinner look like on a school night?
By keeping pieces of the regular week-day schedule intact during this crazy season, you will be giving your kids a sense of normalcy. It will make the transition of everyone being at home much easier, as well as make the transition of everyone going back to the “normal” schedule (whenever that will be) that much easier.
Ideas for creating your NEW-(temporary)-NORMAL:
1.) Give everyone a STAY AT HOME JOB.
Ok, the dog and the baby get a free pass. But that’s it! If you are working from home, and your kids are home, and you are still managing the house, you are currently working THREE FULL TIME JOBS. That’s just not sustainable… for anyone. Every house member should be given a job suited to their ability.
Kids can be payed for their jobs, if you like. Or, their jobs can simply be a requirement for their being a part of the family; helping out during this insane season. Either way, attach a requirement to their job, a “when, then”, such as “when your chores are all completed, then you may use your devices” or “when all jobs are complete, then you may come to the table.”
If you need ideas for chores by age group, I love this Montessori Chore Chart: https://www.fatherly.com/news/a-montessori-chart-of-age-appropriate/ and this page also has a really good list: https://thecraftingchicks.com/weekly-jobs-kids/
2.) Create a loose, flexible schedule.
Do not worry about specific times like you are required to for a “normal” school week. Instead, I encourage you to try a more “when, then, after” approach. For example: “when you are dressed and your bed is made, then we will have breakfast”, or “after we have eaten breakfast, then we will have reading time.” And by all means, make wakeup time a half hour or an hour later (if you haven’t already). It’s one of my favorite perks of homeschooling! Your kids will be able to fall into a rhythm of what to expect next even if it is not at an exact time.
3.) Punctuate your day with predictability.
Kids feel anchored and comforted by knowing that there are certain parts of the day that they can expect and look forward to. Kids love repetition! (Like how they want to read the same book over and over again.) You do not have to schedule out the entire day beginning to end, but do try to insert several reliable and predictable pauses or anchors. What happens between those pauses and anchors may vary.
Predictable pauses or anchors may include:
- Morning snuggles (if you have littles)
- A regular meal eaten together as a family each day
- A set reading time together during the day (we call ours “cozy corner”)
- Making a meal together
- Stories before bed
- Game Night at the same time each week
- Movie Night at the same time each week
- Anything you do in a normal week that you and your kids look forward to
4.) But what about the REST of the day?
What to do about that big awkward section of the day? You know, that part when your kids are usually at school??? I’m working on a post that will completely focus on just that. But in the meantime, if you have already punctuated your day with some good solid pauses/anchors to help your kids feel more scheduled and secure during this time, then here are some things to help you with your home-education efforts:
- If you are BOOKING IT, then you have already taken the first (and in my opinion most important) step in educating your child! If you missed yesterday’s post all about how to “BOOK IT” click the “previous post” link at the bottom of the page.
- Have “school” at the same time each day. Do not announce that school is in session at 10am on Monday and then make a similar announcement at 3pm on Tuesday. Pick a flexible window of time for school each day, such as “after breakfast until lunch or when work is complete.”
- Keep school short and sweet. Do not try and schedule out an entire day of school activity or try to recreate your child’s regular school subject load. I recommend keeping “school” only two hours long for preschool and kindergarten, less than four hours for primary, and no more than four or five for middle and high school.
- Focus on what your child ISN’T learning in school. Rather than trying to cover every content that your child is missing or “falling behind” on from their school, consider focusing on content that IS NOT covered at their school. (But do keep up with math and reading). Such areas may include:
- home economics (cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing)
- practical life skills (autoshop, woodshop, gardening, handyman corner)
- money management
- art, music, theatre
Want more ideas and inspiration for infusing more predictability and simplicity into your family? I highly recommend these two books:
Simplicity Parenting, click here: Audible Audiobook & Prime
The Secrets of Happy Families, click here: Audible Audiobook & Prime
What would you like to see covered on our 19 Day Journey? Comment below and I will do my best to include it!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~