how our first week of homeschooling REALLY went

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Week One of School at Home is officially in the books.

Kids have been here, all up in my “office”, every day this week. They saw friends up until Tuesday, so we’re really pretty new at this.

Last week, I shared my ingenious Homeschooling During Coronavirus Schedule. Did you see it? It was pretty awesome.

Let me remind you:

  • It was perfect for elementary, middle, or high schoolers!
  • You could adjust it for your needs!
  • It was colorful! It was adaptable!
  • There was choice! Did I say it was wonderful!?
  • So much learning was going to happen! Yay!
  • We were ready to rock & roll!
  • We were set up for success!

Except that it was a huge, ugly, silly flop. (Not like squid dogs of yesteryear, which was another flop; this was a real, I’m gonna go into my room and cry hysterically kinda flop.)

Friends, this is not easy.

But I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that.

Believe me. Even our Day 1 didn’t look the way I imagined it would. It was . . . not pretty.

And I’ll be honest: kids yelled, and I yelled. . . kids cried, and I cried.

Let me set the stage:

I shared the idea of School at Home on Saturday with the kids. And then I plotted and planned all day Sunday, thinking of great ideas and resources and so. much. fun was going to happen!

And then I woke up early Monday morning and printed out my schedules.

I set up the kitchen in a special way, allowing for several different desk options. If kids wanted to use the standing desk that I use for work, they could! If they wanted to work at the dining room table, they could! If they wanted to work at the art table, they could! I even put a teeny little old school desk that I got at an estate sale out as a joke.

So. Much. Choice. Right? Hmph.

I wanted the day to be a certain way, but the kids were envisioning a completely different thing.

So you know what? I bagged everything. I threw my hands up, and I said, Fine. You got it. Today is yours. Do whatever you want. No limits on electronics. Call whatever friends you want. Sit in front of the tv. Facetime, Snapchat, TikTok to your heart’s content. Play video games all day. All I ask is that you keep track of what you do. I want to see it how you decide to use the day.

And I went to the dining room table, I sat down, and I cried.

And then I sat on the phone with Apple for a million hours—3 1/2 hours!—while I tried to work out a problem with Maddy’s phone. It was a crap-ola day. Totally and completely junky.

I doubt anyone kept track of anything they did, but whatever. I don’t even care.

The plus is that each child apologized to me separately. Each one said sorry. And I did, too, because I really think my anxiety and my need to control scary, new situations felt like smothering and being trapped to my kids.

So my husband and I sat down individually with each child on Monday night after the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and we talked about what happened.

I told them how I felt, and we figured out how we can make this schedule work for them, individually. The talks went well. Really.

But guess what?

Tuesday was a blank slate. I let them do what they wanted. It was St. Paddy’s Day, and each person had a friend over, and those friends stayed for corned beef and cabbage.

It was a good day.

Wednesday was a blank slate. We went for a long family hike, almost five miles. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and we explored some back paths only minutes from our home.

We came home tired, ate frozen pizza for lunch, and relaxed for the rest of the day. Cora went to bed early, and Maddy, Owen, my husband, and I watched Boyz in the Hood. Not the best choice for us right now. We didn’t finish it.

Note to self: go for a little lighter movies right now while the world around you is in chaos.

Overall, though, it was a good day.

Thursday was a blank slate. We didn’t do anything. We organized some things, did some other things (who even knows what we did–and why can’t I even remember?!), and we did . . . who even knows what.

It was a good day.

Friday was a blank slate. We didn’t do anything. My husband went into his school and helped to distribute over 300 meals to his students and their families. Maddy made her world-famous chocolate chip cookies. We put up Cora’s new LED lights in her room. We ordered food from our favorite Italian restaurant for dinner.

It was a good day.

So what will next week look like?

I really can’t tell you. I am just focusing on giving myself–and my family–a little time to breathe right now.

I’m focusing on allowing us all to mourn for the loss of the life we once knew. The sudden end to cheer teams and soccer. The end of clubs, youth group, Bible study. The end of busy afternoons and carpools and homework and late showers and way-too-early alarms. Stuff we complained about but now that it’s gone, we really miss.

I’m focusing on allowing us to mourn the cancellation of Maddy’s Sweet 16 party which we’ve been planning for months. To mourn the loss of Cora’s 13th birthday celebration. To mourn the loss of our first-ever family vacation to the Dominican Republic in April.

With the help of a lot of prayer and many deep breaths, I’m instead focusing on giving us all a little grace over here.

We need some grace if we forget chores, if we forget to shower, if we forget to change our clothes for a few days. Some grace to eat what we want, when we want, and to exercise if and when we’re up for it.

We need grace to make our bed–or not–and to play family games–or not. Grace to make an ice-cream sundae at one in the afternoon and leave the bowl in the living room. Grace to laugh so hard one minute and to cry the next. Grace to find this break from school exciting and fun and uncomfortable and scary at the same time.

As a family, we’re focusing doing a bit more take-out and a lot more screen time than normal. We’re trying to get outside for fresh air every day. We’re going to go through some closets, finish some house projects, and start some puzzles. We’re going to watch movies, play games, and spend some time by ourselves, too, alone in our rooms or out back or in the book nook. We’re going to focus on the garden, on giving, and on figuring out fun ways of connecting with friends and neighbors.

I’m going to eat Maddy’s amazing cookies for breakfast and not feel guilty. I’m going to call friends and read books.

And I’m going to let my kids slowly wrap their heads around this. I’m going to let them figure out, for themselves, how to best navigate this new territory, because I really think that that’s the best kind of homeschooling we can do for them right now.

Friends, please tell me how this week went for you.

This is hard, but I know we can do it,


ps. Are we following each other on Instagram? Can you tag me (@teachmama1) on something cute or funny? I could use a lift.


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