After a nice weekend break we are into week 2 of our not-mandatory-but-highly-recommended shelter in place routine. We’ve had some stress but also made some progress so far.
Monday and Tuesday were stressful as we struggled to fit the boys’ school curriculum into our work days. They are only asked to do 2.5 hours of instruction a day but it feels like they need to do 12. We don’t want them spending most of the day lazing around and watching TV so we follow the recommended schedule that mixes classwork with recess, chores, quiet time, and reading. That should make us feel like we are being good parents but we’re instead left feeling woefully inadequate.
The schedule just does not line up with us. It starts at 9 AM, which is usually when we both have meetings that we can’t move. That begins a 1.5 hour block which amounts to almost 5 different 20-minute activities that we need not only need to research the night before to make sure we understand, but also need to explain, facilitate, and support the day of. That is followed snack and outside time, but it’s been too cold or wet to play for long so the boys come stomping in asking what to do next as we are on conference calls. Then there’s lunch, more learning, and a “quiet” activity that usually ends up being anything but quiet. The result is the two of us running around basically all day trying to prep / set up / facilitate / and support their school work and then being constantly interrupted during “breaks”.
It’s nobody’s fault. The teachers are doing their best with what they have, and it’s only a suggestion anyway. It’s hard on the boys because they don’t understand how this is still school when they don’t have to go anywhere and how work needs to be done when their teachers aren’t assigning it. It’s hard on us because we can’t just clear our schedules and become homeschool teachers. So Tuesday evening we decided that enough was enough and we were going to make this schedule work for us.
We took all of our best Enterprise Agile Planning® skills and created a sticky note schedule to lay out the activities in a flexible way that we could change later. We cut the 1.5 hour academic block to 1 hour and moved it from 8 – 9 where we don’t usually have meetings. We filled extra space in the AM with a quiet activity and created a better definition of what that means – reading, drawing, or an educational game; no TV, iPads, running, playing with toys. We stuck another outside time right after lunch to get more energy out and then we made the 2-3 block into a flexible academic time. If they don’t finish all of their work, it will extend past 3 until it’s done.
We ran through it today and it was better. The 8 – 9 AM block was great and the quiet time was actually quiet – a huge improvement over before. Both boys also had Zoom meetings with their classes which was really great. It was chaotic but everyone enjoyed seeing each other. We are slowly but surely getting better at this, which is good, because I don’t think they are going back to school this year.
It’s weird to go outside because everything is deserted. When you do see people they flee like you have the plague, because, well you just might. It’s the right thing to do, but it feels rude not to go up to people you know and talk to them. I went to Market Basket this morning to grab a few items and it was rather busy with lines stretching past the egg section. Milk and soap were scarce. There were paper towels but no toilet paper. Meat was low. I went at 7 AM (official opening) and most of the people there were from the last group of elderly folks taking advantage of their special pre-opening shopping time from 5 – 7 AM. Some were wearing masks and I felt bad just being there. I felt like I was going to give them a virus that I don’t even know if I have and be responsible for their ultimate death. It’s a heavy feeling.
It snowed yesterday. Some people thought it was annoying, but I found it comforting. Being stuck in the house is something that happens when it snows. Having a white layer across the ground suddenly justified remaining indoors and made it make sense. We went outside around 5 and it was nearly 50 degrees. The snow was melting into a slush and we took a walk through the neighborhood. The boys couldn’t play with anyone, but it was nice to walk together.
That’s all for now.