In what felt like a quick moment, the world shook like a snow globe and we were all sealed inside our homes for safe containment – waving from behind glass… or at least six feet away. Now, taking on new roles with new “to-do” lists expected to tackle multi-tasking at a whole new level. Being a full-time-work-from-home-co-parenting-educator was not a career path I envisioned and definitely not a title I imagined engraved on my new office door (It’s also slightly too big for most standard plaques).
However, haven’t we all survived and thrived in this world because of the challenges we’ve tackled? The obstacles we’ve overcome? The right person who encouraged us? We are here because we derived from that one ancestor who was either a risk taker, an innovator, or maybe just in the right place at the right time. Survival of the fittest has a new definition today. A definition that requires the willingness to understand new forms of communication through technology, along with creative thinking by tapping into some old school home economics – revealing valuable skills like sewing, cooking from scratch, and whipping out the shears for a classic bowl cut. But perhaps the most important aspect of survival just may be refined juggling skills. Mastering a balance with a rhythm while keeping all entertained is a talent that takes patience, trial and error, organization and historically – clown school…
Not gonna lie, some days have felt like clown school. Nothing against the mastery – besides the nightmares that haunted me as a child. But, really – it’s all about the art of juggling – not the reputation, shiny shoes, loud colors or noisy accessories. Although, those may be useful…
It’s been 1 month since a Friday bell rang at my kids’ school and spring break was in session. We are now about to start week 5 of distance learning with the new knowledge that school will not open up again until the fall. So, we continue to provide some mediocre schooling with crossed fingers – hoping we aren’t failing them. Our focus has shifted on what’s important – blending those vital skills with good old play. Last week’s home-ec involved learning about growing our own food as well as mask making and homemade sanitizer – just your basic activities of daily living… in a pandemic.
With school closed and home open, new motions have taken place of old habits. Colored Post-its that fill the wall, are finally starting to methodically move from “to-do” to “done” with visible progress that conclude in high-fives. Our calendar is ever evolving: with a mix of work needs between two adults and school expectations between two children, while finding new ways to keep a home in order… like turning laundry into a math game, dishes into a science activity, and dance parties for PE. We’ve adapted to one another’s needs with an open mind and transparent understanding that this will not be perfect.
With school closed and home open for (what feels like) business, we are clocking-in the moment we wake and clocking-out when our heads finally hit a pillow. Yes, I know this is how parenting works anyway but this is a new form of exhaustion. Mixing working life with life as the reading and writing teacher, the gym teacher and lunch lady, the science and math instructor, the new (and heavily under-trained) IT resource. From the comfort of our homes we are all trying to figure out how to live in discomfort. How to manage like normal, but this isn’t normal. At least, not the same familiar ‘normal’. It is a new normal for now and just may indefinitely change the way we function as a family, how our kids learn and how we work as employees.
With school closed and home open we now have a chance to stop and go a little slower – something we all need. Even on days when us parents feel like all the things might be drowning us, our little life savors sit on the side always ready to grab us, ready for a hug, quick to forgive, and incredibly adaptable. They may need school but they really want us. So, if you can squeeze it in – take time to sit with them. Learn from them. Chalk up the driveway, cook with them, go on a bike ride, plant something, just BE… for even a moment. At the same time, give yourself a break and a pat on the back. This is not easy, this is not perfect, but I believe we can all master the juggle with minimal tools (maybe keep the shiny shoes).