Random Thought Dump

Today I was sitting on the patio, drinking an ice-coffee when Chet comes out and asks, “We’re not Jan and Michael, are we?” For those of you who know, we watched the “Dinner Party” episode last night. It’s definitely one of the series more cringe-worthy episodes. I don’t know if I was more offended that he thought I could be Jan or that he could be Michael. Obviously the answer is no, but it’s an interesting thought experiment to ask yourself really horrifying interspecting questions.

Today I listened to a HBR Ideacast about the history of work. It contrasted our production-oriented post-Industrial economic paradigms to a hunter-gatherer society that values equality and believes in abundance over productivity. It has made me think about my need for constant productivity and whether that is just a cultural construct I have adapted.

I secretly (now not-so-secretly) think my phone is plotting to steal my life away from me.

Lessons learned while social distancing

We decided to stay home and social distance ourselves starting Friday. Today is the fifth day of that–not that far in when you consider some of the projections we are hearing out there. Nevertheless, I have learned a few lessons along the way that I would like to share.

Iterations

Today is the third day of “homeschooling” and our third schedule. We are hacking this through iterations. I didn’t spend hours thinking up the perfect schedule and then print and laminate it. I made a schedule, tried it, made many notes to myself, and made a different one the next day.

This entire social distancing will have to be one iteration at a time. I learned better to do school work before outside play (it’s hard to wrangle the kids in). Learning activities geared towards my toddler are better done with all of us together, and school work for my first-grader is better left for nap time. Prodigy the math computer game is a great incentive to quell any potential complaints. I can sneak in a bit of Khan Academy math before Prodigy. I keep learning little tips, making note, and readjusting for the next day. Tomorrow’s schedule be different than today’s.

Routine Over Schedule

Use of the word schedule is a bit of a misnomer, it’s really more of a routine. I have found that sticking to time frames is stressful and unrealistic for us. Things change. Children do benefit from consistency, but my kids can’t tell time, so a timed schedule is no benefit to them and a stressor for me.

Instead, I make a rough flow for the day and have established activity triggers. I try to exercise in the morning before getting ready. Breakfast triggers getting dressed for the boys. If I need to shower once they are awake, they get a little tv. We try to get outside once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I take walks several times throughout the day. Lunch time triggers a themed lessons from Scholastic. And then story time, and then nap. Nap triggers hw for my older son, quiet time for me, and computer time for him when he finishes. We try to get all the should-dos out of the way in the morning, so after nap time it’s just playing outside or creating art or free time.

I have a short list of daily to-dos that aren’t scheduled, but I fit in wherever it makes sense. For me its exercise, get dressed, write, practice piano, study languages (I use Duolingo), go outside, walk, make art. Not in a particular order, though I have some preferences. It’s helpful to know what I would like to do each day and trust that I will make time for it.

Be Honest

I am not a teacher and I straight up told my kid so. I told him I didn’t go to school to learn how to teach kids. Even though I think its a cool (and essential!) job, I wanted to learn to do other things. So now we have both released me of any expectation to be a teacher. I explained his teacher knows what is best for his education, this is what she has asked us to do, and so I am trying my best. Opening up about this instead of pretending I knew what I was doing really changed the tone.

Big Changes Require Big Adjustments

On my first day of being home, I expected the schedule to be a big hit and for us to be fully adjusted to our new normal. Not sure why I thought there would be no adjustment period at all. I went from working full-time and being in school to being a homeschooling stay-at-home mom. Whoa! And my kids miss their schools, friends, teachers, routines. Our normal got blown up, and it took a few days to realize that big changes require adjustment periods. The bigger the change, perhaps the longer the adjustment. It helps to know that we are adjusting, finding our groove, and making tiny course corrections. I don’t know how long it will take, but I’m open to it.

Connection is Key

I have thought a lot about connection. I miss crowded restaurants, game nights with friends, and bustling parks. I miss classes at the gym and ice cream shops. And yet, I have felt more connected in some ways than I did before. I feel like the internet is finally being used for good, and at the same time, we are being forced to spend real time with the people right in front of us. I’ve enjoyed finding novel ways to connect with others, like live streamed yoga classes or daily Facetime calls. I hope these things last.

Varied Time Spent Together

I hear the extroverts are struggling. I am an ambivert, both extroverted and introverted, so I need to take care to honor both sides of my personality. For us, that looks like varying who is spending time with who. We try to make sure we have a good mix of alone time, one-on-one with different members of our family, and all together time. Too much of any one can be problematic.

Surviving v Thriving

At some point this week I decided to really delve into the yumminess of being home. I am lighting my scented candles, turning on the fireplace, playing my favorite records, and eating treats. I basically decided to treat this time like Christmas. You know how Christmas is so magical because there is music and treats and fun? I want to recreate that. I know it’s not a vacation or holiday, and that real people are suffering, struggling, and even dying. I don’t want to make light of it, but I also want to teach my children how to thrive, even in hard circumstances.

Those are my thoughts so far. Haha, only a few days in, so take most of this with a grain of salt. What have you learned in these few days? Anything surprise you? Let me know in the comments.

Shelter-In-Place

On Friday the 13th, four days ago, school and work closed, and residents were encouraged to practice social distancing in order to slow the rapid spread of the highly contagious COVID-19.

I had seen this coming, as experts warned the situation in the U.S. was weeks behind Italy(link).

I had been to the grocery store, a week or two before the panic buying, and bought a few extra essentials in anticipation of some future movement restrictions. I didn’t think the grocery stores would close or food would run out. I wanted to have a little extra on hand so when the spread of COVID-19 peaks, we can stretch out our grocery runs and expose ourselves or others as little as possible.

Four days ago, I was working full-time, in school, and caring for my family. Having submitted my final assignment for my course on Sunday, yesterday I found myself suddenly a full-time stay-at-home mom. The adjustment has been quick and aggressive, and not without some growing pains.

I recognize the incredible privilege that comes with the kind of employment that allows me to be home with my kids during this time. We currently depend on healthcare workers, employees of grocery stores and all the up the food supply chain, pharmacies, and businesses that provide crucial services. The maintenance care workers that continue to clean and care for our facilities, now with increased labor, are also front-line combatants against the rapid spread of COVID-19. We owe these individuals to stay home and stay healthy, so that they can continue to do their job protecting the most vulnerable populations.

Staying home can be hard, and staying home can be absolutely wonderful. I’ve been thinking about the concept of delighting in home, a sort of homesteading, a lot these past few months. There is such deliciousness in hygge, home, comfort. But there is also isolation and feeling trapped.

To combat this, I turned my objective from survive to thrive (within the current constraints). I play my favorite records, light candles and the fireplace. We have a puzzle going and lots of little treats. Every little scrap or cardboard box has become a potential art project. We have dance parties and movie nights with popcorn and red vines. I spend time out on the patio, tending to my little garden or just soaking in the sunshine. I go on frequent walks. We play basketball and ride scooters.

I know this is a difficult time, and some of you out there are suffering or scared. I don’t have answers, just a little message, that someone out there in the big wide internet is there. I want to hear your struggles, I want to know how I can help. I just want to be there/here so you don’t feel alone. And if it can be my privilege, I hope to provide a little bit of inspiration and hope. I hope I can share a resource you might need or an activity that brings joy to you.

I know we are separated, but we don’t have to be alone.

52 Books

Last year I made the resolution to read 52 books in a year–one for each week. It seemed like a lofty goal, but I believed I could do it. I have always been a fast and avid reader, so a book a week seemed totally doable. Spoiler alert: I didn’t read 52 books last year.

I did, however, read 19 books. (For 2019?! Eh eh!) I mostly forgot my resolution for most of the year, so at least two thirds of the books were read in the last few months, which makes me think I could have done it.

Here are my 2019 reads:

I really enjoyed exposure to new paradigms that challenged my thinking, choices, and enriched my life with a diversity of thought and simulated experience. I loved this so much that I’m keeping the resolution this year and going for 52 books in 2020! I’m halfway through my first book, so like most resolutions on January 3rd, I’m off to a good start.

Tomorrow, I’ll write my review of these books and reveal my top picks.

In the meantime, I’d love to know if you have read any of these books. What did you think? What other books have you read that you loved? Some of these books were recommended to me and ended up being my favorites of the year!