The Moment It Became Real
It didn’t become real until the reports manifested in our hometown grocery store. Suddenly, the images of bare shelves circulating social media became our reality. Panic buying had made its way to Middle Georgia. Quarantine had found it’s way to our home.
I remember my husband and I turning our shopping cart onto the paper goods aisle, hoping to find at least one pack of toilet paper, only to be met with scarcity. Not a single roll of toilet paper. Not a single pack of paper towels. Even the napkins were gone.
My mouth dropped open. “It’s real,” I thought. My husband and I shook our heads with frowning faces. There are worse things, for sure. But never did we think we’d have trouble finding toilet paper of all things during a crisis. Yet, there we were, struggling to quick-think alternatives. Other stores we could possibly venture to and find this commodity that has suddenly become like gold to people worldwide.
Then it got really real. Egg shelves, bare. Milk shelves, bare. Bottled water shelves, bare. Bread aisle, bare. Canned goods, bare. Suddenly, reality sank deeper into the depths of my spirit. We’ve got a real problem here. More deaths, more overwhelmed hospitals, more job loss, more social distancing, more lockdowns, more curfews, and more panic. Fear became a worldwide tune that no one wanted to sing.
This pandemic was real.
How Has Homeschool Life Changed While Practicing Social Distancing?
I keep reading comments from other homeschoolers stating their lives haven’t changed much. That may be true for them, but I can tell you as homeschoolers who are active with our community that our lives have definitely changed.
We are active members of three homeschool groups. A group that hosts field trips and activities, a group that acts as a cooperative and offers extracurricular classes, and a group that hosts events for families of color. These groups kept us active outside the home on a regular basis. There was something to do every week, sometimes multiples times a week. Some weeks, we even had to get more intentional about limiting activities so that we could get through our structured learning at home.
You see, we are missing field trips, play dates, game nights, enrichment classes, field day, graduations, and many other special events we once participated in to welcome the Spring. On top of that, we no longer have access to our local libraries, recreation centers, museums, skating rinks, parks, and other places we once frequented. There is nowhere to go. All the fun stuff is closed. We’ve been making the best of our backyard and family strolls around our 1.5-mile-wide neighborhood. Believe me, I’m thankful that we at least have these luxuries.
Do We Have a New Homeschool Routine During Quarantine?
It’s true that, by now, we’d be spending more time outdoors with our community, but now we must revamp our schedule to accommodate the new restrictions. I’d be lying if I said I had it all figured out. I don’t. Right now, we just needed to take some time to process everything that has been going on—this pandemic that has changed our lives overnight.
With that said, I’m working on a new routine this week. In the meantime, we’ve enjoyed the following activities:
- Cooking together.
- Doing science experiments.
- Reading books.
- Taking family strolls.
- Trying new resources.
- Taking virtual field trips.
- Drawing and doing crafts.
- Organizing our home.
- Building new furniture as a family.
- Playing games.
- Listening and dancing to music.
- Working on coding projects and other constructive hobbies.
To be fair, these are things we’d normally do as a homeschooling family. However, we find ourselves doing these activities even more so to break up the monotony of our restricted lifestyle.
How Am I Coping?
This pandemic is unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime, so it took a while to fully register. I let myself feel all the emotions. Shock. Denial. Fear. Anger. Bargaining. Sadness. Acceptance. Some emotions had longer periods than others. If I had to choose which emotions I’ve felt the most, I’d say denial initially, then sadness hit as more people lost their lives, jobs, and faith. I find comfort in talking to God and allowing Him to talk back to me. I find comfort in scriptures. I find comfort in worship. I find comfort in practicing gratitude. And I find comfort in knowing that God is still in control even when it seems like things are out of control.
I’ve also been spending a lot of time outdoors sitting on my back porch and reflecting. There’s something therapeutic about breathing in the fresh air, hearing the birds chirp and sing, and letting the sun caress my skin. I spend my time there working on ventures, listening to inspiring messages and music, having heart-to-hearts with my family (my in-laws are quarantining with us), or just “being”—listening for the still, small voice of God to help me make sense of all this.
I’ve been tempted to spring clean and organize my home like I see other moms on social media doing, but it’s honestly not a priority at the moment. While we’ve done minor organizing to make room for extra food and other essentials, right now I’m enjoying my family. I’m enjoying being still. I’m enjoying talking on the phone to relatives that I haven’t spoken to in years. And I’m enjoying having more time to self-reflect and work on my character development.
I don’t watch the news. I’ve stopped reading the heartbreaking stories. It’s too much.
What I’m not enjoying? On a minor level, not being able to visit or hug my family and friends, shop for leisure, travel, or fill my calendar with fun events to do with my family. A fellow homeschool mom reminded me that these are all first-world problems and I agree. It could be worse. Much worse. On a more serious level, I’m not enjoying seeing other people suffer through this pandemic, whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially. I don’t watch the news. I’ve stopped reading the heartbreaking stories. It’s too much. I depend on my family to keep me updated at this point.
How Are Our Children Processing This Pandemic?
We’ve explained to our children what is happening around the world and what they can do to ensure they’re part of the solution. Stuff like washing their hands more and counting to 20 while doing so, covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze, and practicing social distancing. They think this whole pandemic thing is scary. We’ve been doing our best to help turn that fear into faith by speaking life, wisdom, and truth into this situation.
I’m depending on God to grant me patience and understanding in regard to parenting during this time.
Of course, they miss their friends. They miss our field trip adventures. They miss their co-op classes. I suppose we can pretend like everything is okay and go on with our structured learning time, but sooner or later they’ll notice we didn’t go strawberry picking this year. We didn’t have our annual field day. We’ve stopped attending children’s bible study every week. We stopped hanging out with our friends until the wee hours of the morning. And their event’s calendar is pretty much cleared for the next few weeks. For this reason, I admit there have been minor behavioral issues due to the disruption of our normal routine. I’m depending on God to grant me patience and understanding in regard to parenting during this time.
Here’s the thing, children are more aware than we think they are. They are in-tune with the current energy emitting into the atmosphere. The panic. The fear. The anxiety. The uncertainty. What’s more important than academics right now is checking in on our children and giving them the opportunity to express how they’re feeling mentally and emotionally. That expression can come in many forms. Younger children can draw or paint pictures of how they’re feeling. Older children can write or verbally express how they’re coping. We’ve personally let our children escape for a while. To take a moment to feel all the feelings and just “be.”
My Advice for Parents Suddenly Thrust into Homeschooling
Just breathe. I know there’s a lot of information out there right now. I’m assuming that your child’s school has provided you with an alternative curriculum to continue learning at home. That is half the battle. The other half is not putting pressure on yourself to implement a rigid schedule that’ll only add to the stress and anxiety you and your family are already experiencing.
Take Advantage of This Time
Here’s my recommendation for new homeschoolers; take this time to focus on other skills your child needs to develop. Skills that have been overlooked due to the demands of school that once comprised half of your child’s waking hours. Now is the perfect time for your child to learn how to tie their shoelaces, ride a bicycle, improve their keyboarding skills, cook a basic meal, balance a checkbook, or even start a business. Now is the time to help them develop and strengthen their emotional intelligence, spirituality, self-confidence, or virtues of life. As a bonus, strengthening these skills increases the quality time you spend together.
Take Education Out Of The Box
Do not expect your children to do 6-8 hours of structured learning like they do at school. It only takes about 2 hours to get it all done, depending on their age. Remember, you are working one-to-one with your child, rather than one teacher working with 30 students at a time. Furthermore, there’s more to education than sitting in a classroom. More to learning than reading a textbook. Keep an open mind. Playtime is learning. Crafting is learning. Taking a nature walk is learning. Cooking is learning. Doing chores is learning. Even periods of boredom are learning opportunities. It’s all backed by research. Children are always learning! It’s how they’re wired.
Have a Clear and Concise Plan
Whatever you decide, be sure to have a clear, concise plan. Having a vision and a set of objectives for your “new normal” is the key to thriving rather than surviving. Remember, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. You can learn more about planning for home education and management, here. I will also link free resources, here, to help you enrich your homeschool experience. Lastly, if you do suddenly find yourself wanting to homeschool on a more permanent basis, start here.
I want to leave you with John 14: 27:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Listen, you will not get peace anywhere else right now except through Jesus Christ. Abide in him. Rest in the presence of God. Whenever you feel fear, meditate on the verses below and restore your faith. The full version is also available to download for FREE so that you can print them out and keep them at your bedside or desk.