How does that one 90’s hit country western song go? “A little less talk, and a lot more action!” Good ole’ Toby Keith may have intended a different (and more saucy) meaning with his lyrics, I grant you, but I can’t think of a better, more catchy mantra to champion our second “shift” in caring for our kids or family members with the “Isolation Blues.” If you missed the first “shift”, from PROMOTING PANIC to FILTERING FEAR , one of the concepts I addressed was how we can inadvertently promote panic by talking too much about our own concerns, as well as push our kids into (or further into) the “Isolation Blues” by asking them too many questions about their emotions. Oops, guilty!
“We monitor their feelings, asking them to describe those feelings, to express them, to talk about them. . . While young children have feelings, they only slowly become aware of them. Until the age of ten or so, their emotional consciousness and vocabulary are too premature to stand up to what we ask of them in our emotional monitoring and hovering.” –Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
So what are we supposed to do then? How can we help our kids sort through their mixed up emotions or help them beat the blues without asking them about their feelings? Come on, sing it with me now! “A little less talk, and a lot more action!” Talk is cheap. . . it’s time to focus on the task at hand, to embrace intentional activity, to give our kids the satisfaction of doing. (There I go sounding like I’m writing an ad for The Home Depot again.)
“Often when young kids feel emotional about something—when they’re angry or hurt or sad—they need to put it right by doing. They need to have a hug or give one, to dig a hole or find the dog, they need to draw a picture with a lot of green in it, or make something. They need to work it out by doing. . . to put the feeling to right in some physical way. And with that, sometimes, they may need a bit of help.” –Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
SHIFT #2: From PASSIVITY to PURPOSE
Photo Credit: my sister
If we are currently drifting amid the weird and foggy sea of aimless passivity—just waiting for the tide to change, waiting for the fog to lift, waiting for a southeasterly to fill our sails and miraculously bring us to safety —it’s time to man the stern and head for the shore. Even if that means being marooned for a time, exploring and taking on the new challenges of an unchartered island. It’s time to embrace purpose, even simple, practical, humble, everyday purpose. . . perhaps even new, or altered purpose. Let’s give our children (and ourselves) the satisfaction of the task-at-hand and let them process whatever they’ve got going on through intentional activity. Along with that, let’s perhaps stop PROJECTING (emotions, concerns, worries) on our kids, and instead tackle a physical PROJECT together. Let’s explore and expand our purposes: for ourselves, for our kids, for our families, for our communities, perhaps even for our planet. Eat or be eaten? Beat (the blues) or be beaten.
~PURPOSE FOR OURSELVES~
What will we look back on and remember about the spring of 2020? What will stick out to us most about the COVID19 pandemic? How will we grow? What stories will we tell our children or our grandchildren? Perhaps more importantly: what do we WANT to remember about the spring of 2020? How can we endeavor to experience personal growth? What do we want our children to remember about how we acted (and reacted) during the COVID19 pandemic?
Do we want to look back and think: “It was a crazy dark time; we were all so lonely and so bored, we basically just binge-watched Netflix shows for two months.”
Do we want our kids to look back and tell our grandchildren: “School was cancelled and there was nothing to do. . . so your aunt Sophie and I mostly just played a lot of video games and drove grandma and grandpa nuts.”
Or, will we look back and smile a sad but grateful smile and say: “It was a crazy dark time, but some amazing things came about for our family because of it; during our time in isolation, our family started baking bread together, and it was the first spring we ever planted a vegetable garden. The days were long and strange, but they were also simple and happy.”
Will our kids look back and tell our grandchildren: “School was cancelled and your grandparents had no idea what to do. . . how to homeschool us. . . how to manage it all. . . so they started reading out loud to us like they had when we were little. Grandpa read us the entire Wingfeather Saga that spring, and grandma taught Uncle Sam and I how to make her famous lasagna. It was a strange and scary time and we missed our friends, but our home felt safe and our family grew closer during that pandemic, and when it was over the world was a little bit different, maybe even a little bit better.”
~PURPOSE FOR OUR CHILDREN~
GET SKILLED: Practical life-skills have always been satisfying and valuable, but since this pandemic hit we are starting to see, perhaps even globally, how truly essential they are. There are thousands of people all over the world who have had to learn how to cook or sew or clean their own house during this pandemic. Now, more than ever is the perfect time to learn practical life-skills and/or teach them to our children.
- Check out my practical life-skills for kids post: Day 13: SKILL SCHOOL: teach your kids these 5 PRACTICAL LIFE-SKILLS!
GET SCHOOLED: Well, the spring break from hell never ended. If we gave up, gave in, quit and threw up our hands, saying: “whatever, we’ll just wait for the FALL!” . . . let’s breathe and start again. I encourage you to aim high: why set the goal as low as “not to fall behind”. . . how about we shoot to thrive rather than simply survive our “Suddenly-Homeschooling” journeys?
- If you need HOMESCHOOL HELP, a place to START, or a RESTART:
~PURPOSE FOR OUR FAMILIES~
“Like any work of art, families need inspiration, fresh infusions of hope, and imagination.” –Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
BOOK IT! Infuse your home with the inspiration, hope, and imagination that leap out from the pages of a book; connect with your family through reading aloud together. Check out my read-aloud lists:
COMMEMORATE IT! Connect with your family by doing something fun, something different, something you’ll never forget! Check out my list of boredom-busting family activities here:
- Day 9: “I’ve got you, babe!” 40 ways to spend the day (and evening) so your family’s indoor weekend won’t totally suck!
TAME IT! Kids fighting it out like there’s no tomorrow? What an opportunity we have to get to the bottom of our kids’ squabbles and rivalry! Before you stuff your kids into a “get-along T-shirt” check out these ideas from parenting expert Adele Faber:
~PURPOSE FOR OUR COMMUNITIES~
Take the MISS RUMPHIUS CHALLENGE: we can do something to make your communities more “beautiful” with our kids!
- For a list of community-focused activities, check out: Day 7: The Miss Rumphius Challenge: DO SOMETHING TO MAKE THE WORLD MORE BEAUTIFUL! ~cultivating service with your kids~
DRIVE-BY BIRTHDAYS, BALCONY BLOCK PARTIES, & CAR PARADES: Have you seen these? I got to witness a few this week on our street between our two apartment towers. Call me sentimental, but looking down, with all the cheering and singing and “Happy-Birthdaying” and honking and waving on the street of our weird balcony community, witnessing the sheer creativity and stubbornness of humanity, the daring audacity to celebrate anyway—loud, and strong, and proud— I choked up each time. . . and fogged up my lens as I took these photos:
Their faces say it all. Let’s all mask up, get in our cars, and go brighten someone’s day!
~PURPOSE FOR OUR PLANET~
Many of us have had a lot of time to think these days. A lot of us are searching for the lesson—the takeaway—from this whole COVID19 pandemic and fallout. As a somewhat annoyingly “take-charge” person myself, I’ve been contemplating what we need to change. Why did this happen. . . how can we prevent it from happening again. . . what does our world need going forward. . . what do we need to change as a society? What are the alarms sounding off around the world? What siren-songs are we tuning out? What messages, what warnings are being fog-horned into our isolation cabins? For myself, I’ve been thinking about how unprepared we were as a society for an event of this scale. I’ve been contemplating how dependent we have become: on Amazon deliveries, on fast-food, on convenient, comfortable, complacent, consumer-living.
“We take from nature, we use (briefly), and we throw away—tons and tons of supposedly useless “waste.” Most if this is put into landfills, which will, of course, become the mines of tomorrow, if not the methane power stations of the 22nd century.” –The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Live It, John Seymour
Basically, I’ve been thinking about waste; both literal waste as in that which we send to the (ever-filling) landfill as John Seymour spells out above, but also the less tangible forms of waste; the way we waste time, the way we waste our potential, the way we rob from our purpose (perhaps even the one we were created to fulfill).
I’ve been reexamining my purpose. As a wife, as a mom, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister and auntie, as a Christian, just. . . my human purpose to this planet, as cliché as that may sound. In our cores, most of us I believe, want to be useful, to serve a purpose, to help bring about something greater and bigger than just for ourselves. But, for many (myself included): we get caught up in too much, too fast, too comfortable.
In full disclosure, this re-examining is precisely what prompted me to write this blog. . . a blog, by the way, that I started TWO YEARS AGO, which then remained post-less—purposeless, lifeless— until a month ago. It wasn’t because I didn’t have ideas, or because I wasn’t passionate about kids and parenting and education—it was because I was being lazy, complacent, comfortable, cozy. But something about this pandemic has been driving the lesson home that my dad has been telling me since I was born: life is short. If not now, then when? Our purpose to the planet may be (or seem like) a small purpose. . . and that’s ok. We don’t have to change the world. We can just help change the world for someone, or a handful of someones. Perhaps even simply (and profoundly) for the little someones under our own roofs—the world-changers of tomorrow.
As a society, we often live for the comfort of today rather than for the purpose and change of tomorrow. But now, change is knocking, perhaps calling our name, or banging down our doors. Will we go to the door (masked, of course) open it, and greet our purpose?
My view of the world tonight.
Thank you for reading.
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~
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