I had just figured out how to create a much better routine so that my family could get through the weeks without pulling our hairs out. I’d created a great schedule for us all and was feeling pretty proud of my efforts. And then….COVID-19. I’m “front-line” hospital personnel, so I am thankfully yet terrifyingly still employed. My husband, who is a Chef, was the one who lost his hours and had to stay home while suffering through Digital Learning with our 6-year-old. I’m not sure which one wants to strangle the other more. A kindergartener without the all-day structure of school M-F is a terrifying thing to behold. This past week of Spring Break was a blessing to us all. But, next week starts Week 4 of Digital Learning. And to top it off, our Governor just announced that the state is under a “stay-at-home” order AND school will not be back in session this school year. Yep, all in one breath… So, I pulled out my pen, paper, schedule, and wine bottle and again got down to the business of creating a New Normal for our family.
The Need for Something New
Living with Multiple Sclerosis, the idea of a new normal is not foreign to me. I seem to go through it every season. But, usually, it’s something my doctor and I go over and figure out. This time it was a family affair. My job hours/days were abruptly changed, there was no toilet paper or food at the supermarket and Michael’s Arts & Crafts was NOT an essential store that could stay open! My only saving grace was StarBucks. Even the Government wasn’t crazy enough to deny the public that necessity. FYI: I am totally supporting my local Baristas as much as I can!
Luckily I had the template from my previous Routine to go off of. The ink was barely dry and I was already altering it. Ugh! I penciled in my new Work-Life Routine. But, I was ready to erase it at a moment’s notice of course. Then, I turned to create a new Routine for the two Gladiators who would be occupying the home arena.
Creating a New Normal
Kids perform better in a structured environment, as do Chefs. So, I listened to my friend who is a Kindergarten teacher tell me how she structures her day with her wild beasts at school (my description, not hers). I incorporated her wisdom into our existing schedule and starting on Monday, let the Hunger Games begin. “May the odds be ever in our favor.”
I focused this New Normal on the youngest Gladiator. I divided up the hours of the day between her getting out of bed and her getting back into bed at night. Then, I included all of the important components starting with her morning routine. Then, there was the NEW routine for her on-line school work, with several breaks and lunch sprinkled in. I reaffirmed her post-school routine which included her usual evening chores, dinner, and homework. And I capped it all off with her bedtime routine which still enforced the regular “lights out” time. A few things were liberally extended because you know, that morning-dash out of the house to the drop off the line was no longer an issue. Oh and so that my husband wasn’t driven insane by “what time is it now,” questions, I created this clock for the time-telling challenged little person.
Here’s how ours looks:
- 8:30 – 9:30 Morning Routine
- 9:30 -10:30 School Work Session I (20min work, 10min break, 20min work, 10min break)
- 10:30-11:30 School Work Session II (20min work, 10min break, 20min work, 10min break)
- 11:30-12:00 Lunch
- 12:00-1:00 Recess/Playtime (for kid and adult)
- 1:00-2:00 School Work Session III (20min work, 10min break, 20min work, 10min break)
- 2:00-3:00 School Work Session IV (20min work, 10min break, 30 min work)
- 3:00-3:30 Afternoon Snack Time with the electronic device of choice
- 3:30-5:00 JUMANJI-Making a store run while Social Distancing (grocery shopping, drugstore run, Starbucks dash, scream into your purse, fill the gas tank, return calls while sitting in the car in the garage, etc.)
- 5:00-6:00 Prep and Eat Dinner
- 6:00-6:30 Cleanup and After Dinner Chores
- 6:30-7:00 Homework with Parent B, because Parent A quit
- 7:00-7:30 Family Time
- 7:30-8:00 Free Time with the electronic device of choice
- 8:00-8:30 Get Ready for Bed Routine
- 8:30 Lights Out (Alexa gets the honor of announcing this)
Remember, what works for some families may not work for you and visa-versa. But, it’s important to create a plan and tweak it until it does. As we have recently been made aware, life changes constantly, so reevaluate your schedule regularly. And so that everyone is continually aware and reminded of their roles, post it in a high traffic area. Disclaimer: ** I AM NOT A TRAINED/LICENSED EDUCATOR.** My husband and I are Full Time working professionals who were shoved unexpectedly, kicking and screaming into the roles of co-educator. This advice is only meant to be helpful to other parents in our situation. If you know Real Teachers or Homeschool Parents, by all means, pick their brains! Then, share some great advice in the comment section below!
New Normals are a thing
As with everything that deals with children, it never goes quite as planned. Expect the occasional hiccup and rearrangement to the plan. But, handle it with grace, deep breathing and then step back on the track.
Neither my husband nor I ever had plans to be Kindergarten teachers, so when I get home or have a weekday off I try to give him as many breaks as I can. I have to help keep my husband as sane as possible so that he can continue to be on the front-line of EDUCATION. Because seriously, I’d rather be at the hospital on the front-line of COVID-19 than trying to teach Phonics and sight words!
My cap and N95 mask off to all of the teachers out there who do this on the daily. You are a braver, stronger person than I. Next year for teacher appreciation, instead of scented soaps and lotions, I’m going to give you a gift basket filled with Tylenol, wine, and a pre-paid pass to one of those rooms where you can use an instrument of your choice to destroy lots of electronic equipment. Because damn it, you deserve it!
What are some of your thoughts and experiences with creating a New Normal for your family during this COVID-19 Pandemic? Share in the comment section below.