As a mom of 7 kids, I’m no stranger to learning at home. I was a homeschooling parent for many years, but last year almost all of our kids decided to go to public school. We enjoyed the morning walks to school, they enjoyed the new friends and teachers, and as a family, we all loved being a part of Austin ISD. Virtual learning has been a bit different on the other hand.
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This school year is looking very different, but virtual learning and learning at home, in general, is something we know and do well. We understand how to structure our days and give each other space when we need a break. We know what ongoing household chore systems work for us. We know how to set up independent work stations, and how to stay on track with our agenda for the day. We know how to start the day off in a positive light, and end the day with the ability to learn from our mistakes. All of these things are important parts of creating a functional learning environment at home.
We have all the pieces in place to make this virtual learning year a success – It’s me who is on the struggle bus.
When quarantine began earlier this year, I made the decision to sign up for training and become an Online Business Manager for small businesses so I could help secure our family’s financial future despite the chaos that was erupting around us. I was able to complete the first phase of my training, sign contracts with a handful of clients, and start earning a paycheck for our savings.
While this has made us much more financially secure, the start of the coming school year is daunting. My husband and I are now both working from home and soon we will have six grade levels of school going on at once, Monday through Friday.
Right now, every parent is feeling the gravity of this school year upon their shoulders. Nothing is normal, nothing is routine, and everything feels like a challenge. Whether you’re a parent of one or a parent of ten, there’s no way around it – this school year is going to be tough. But there are two things I tell my clients about managing their business that I have learned to start applying to my own struggles.
Create rhythms for your day, not schedules
I’m a very structured person by nature – I need lots of boundaries in place to make me feel productive. But when I was a homeschooling mom juggling babies, toddlers, nap times, snack times, and learning times, schedules frustrated me and inevitably made me feel like a failure. I re-framed the days in rhythms – breakfast time, learning time, lunch, playtime, dinner time, bathtime, and bedtime. Let go of a schedule as much as you possibly can, and hold space for all the unexpected things that may happen in the day.
Work towards milestones, not goals
When babies learn how to walk, we see their first steps as a milestone, not a goal. Under normal circumstances, setting small, measurable goals can be a great thing. But these aren’t normal circumstances, and we should give ourselves breathing room to help us in our struggles. Re-frame the goals you have for this year and think about them instead as milestones to celebrate versus goals you achieved or didn’t achieve.
So while we all might be on the struggle bus this year in some way or another, it’s important for us to have patience, kindness, and understanding even for ourselves. We are doing the best we can, each and every day. It won’t be perfect, and it won’t go the way we planned, but it will still be a year full of laughs, mistakes, memories, even on the struggle bus.