Whatever you’re facing right now that feels hard and awkward, that same thing will one day feel routine and automatic. Remember breastfeeding? How long it took and how many accessories it required in the early days? And how, a few months or a few kids later, how it just sort of happened by rote while you also carried on a whole conversation or read to a toddler or caught up on email? The new hard thing becomes just a thing you do and don’t even have to think about. Like wearing a mask to the grocery store or logging into Zoom school.
My kids–starting second, fifth, and seventh grades this fall–are all learning from home right now. And while I’m in love with some of the cute home learning workspaces I’ve seen shared online, we just moved into this house in July and I don’t even have it decorated from a baseline yet, let alone a refresh for my kids’ distance learning.
So instead of cute decor, my focus has been on pure function. We’ve seen how a few small purchases can make a BIG difference in kids’ ability to sit, focus, and attempt to learn in this crazy environment. Here are a few things we’ve learned so far:
So here we are, fellow moms: Accidental homeschoolers armed with Pinterest ideas and daily schedules, ready to keep our children’s minds active and their screen-time limited. We’ve bookmarked all the sites and printed all the checklists (unless we’re low on printer ink), and now begins the actual work of overseeing remote learning while parenting in a time of national stress.
Can I gently suggest that we not turn this new venture into a competitive sport?
And that behind-the-scenes work you’re doing? The work you do when the rest of the world isn’t watching, the hundreds of small decisions and clever shortcuts you employ in the name of raising an eventual adult or three? Like Laurence’s simple but incredibly thoughtful salad dressing, it’s where the good stuff happens. Your patient explanations and your sibling squabble mediation, the chore charts you design and the sleep training program you try really really hard to follow, the grapes you cut into quarters and the late-night behavior strategy sessions with your co-parent: these things matter.
Ashley Schafluetzel is a kindergarten teacher and mom of two who lives outside St. Louis, Missouri. Her daughter, Ella, loves big hair bows and Frozen 2, is a great big sister, and is thriving in first grade. However, Ella’s start in life was anything but typical, and through a high-risk pregnancy, premature birth, and extended NICU stay with multiple complications, Ashley and her husband faced challenges that they never expected would come with parenthood.
In this special bonus episode of The Mom Hour, Ashley shares an honest look back at her pregnancy, birth, NICU days, and early motherhood experience. From how she learned to advocate for herself and her baby, to growing into her role as a mom of a child with special needs, Ashley’s story is part of an important part conversation that we hope you’ll enjoy.
The trees on the curb made me wonder, though, if there might be some rich and wonderful reasons to let the holiday season wind down a little more gradually this week rather than slamming the door in its bloated face.