Little Pieces Of Joy

I used to think I was the most patient person in the world, until I had children. Maybe you are lucky and you have an easy child who listens to your every word and follows your every direction. Well, most children are not like that, especially mine. I guess you can’t consider yourself patient until you are really put to the test. Quarantine adds a whole new level, especially when we have just completed week five.

It’s been a rough week. I have a teenager who thinks he can stay up all hours of the night now. He isn’t required to be up at any certain time for Distance Learning, so his evenings are when he connects with friends and has his fun. He talks on the phone for hours on end with his headphones stuck to his ears. Friday morning he startled me out of a deep sleep by slamming the refrigerator door a bit too hard. I was not happy when I stumbled into the kitchen to find him making a mug cake in the microwave at 2 am. I gave him a glare, shook my head and went back to bed.

It took me two hours to finally fall back to sleep since I was tossing and turning in utter frustration of why he would want to stay up so late. Then as luck would have it my five year-old wakes at up at 4:30 am ready for the day to begin. I knew it was going to take a lot of work for me to survive the day. I do not do well when I don’t get enough sleep.

With everyone at home all the time there is a lot of clashing energies. Frustrations seem to build quickly. I am trying hard to keep the meltdowns to a minimum, but they still seem to happen daily. If I am not on top of my game things can spiral downward very quickly and when you get past the point of no return, it is never pretty and takes even longer to recover from the madness.

I’ve let go of a lot of expectations. The house is a mess. Kids are stressed. My husband is out of town. I can’t do it all and I am trying to be alright with that. The basement floor is covered in legos and I just have to walk away. I don’t have the strength to worry about that right now. I am taking care of myself first by writing this blog, even when there are a million other things I could be doing. My nights are for myself. I will do yoga, take a bath, read, and try to learn something new.

Today was long since I am still recovering from lack of sleep from the day before. I am beginning to get my youngest ready for bed. I gave him a bath. He still won’t let me wash his hair, but I was flexible and let it go. I brought him a warm towel and jammies from the dryer which I have never done before in my life. He loved it! He brushed his teeth after taking his time and doing it all by himself. I thought I was in the home stretch, ready to head down to bed and then he asked, “Can I have a snack?” Of course I had to say yes, in fear he might starve to death overnight, so I gave him a banana.

I thought a banana would be a quick, simple snack, and then we could be on our way to bed. When I sat down next to him at the table he quickly jumped up and went to the drawer to get a butter knife. At this point I was too tired to tell him to put it back. He peeled his banana and then began to cut it into slices. I watched patiently without saying a word. He didn’t stop there though, he then proceeded to cut each slice into tinier pieces until he had a mound of little banana pieces on his plate. After this intricate cutting work he began to slowly eat the pieces with his fork.

I just sat and watched him in amazement. He was so present in what he was doing. He actually ate the whole banana pile, which was amazing in itself for such a picky eater. After he took his last bite he looked at me proudly with a big smile on his face and said, “I was practicing my cutting!”

I could have stopped him and told him to put the knife back. I could have yelled at him for making a mess on the table and wasting time. I could have just said no. Tonight I decided to let him be in charge, maybe it was just pure exhaustion, I’m not sure, but I let him take the lead and it took a little longer, but added a spark of joy to his night. After this fun and exciting snack he happily went to bed.

Sometimes it’s the little wins that make everything seem ok. Sometimes we need to let go of the control and let our kids just be. It’s ok to let them stay up late in this unprecedented time. It’s ok for them to make mug cakes (maybe not at 2 am). It’s ok if they cut their banana into as many tiny pieces as they like.

We all need to find the little things that bring us joy right now. Not everyone will choose the same thing, but we all have something that brings us joy. Make a list and then carve out as many moments as possible throughout your day to bring the sparks on your list to life. It can be as simple as cutting a banana. It will make all the difference.

Do Better & Shine

Distance Learning Day 1 ~Quarantine Day 14

So I am happy to report that our family has survived 14 days in quarantine together. I feel like I’ve been in this place before, minus the virus. Being a stay at home mom is a little like quarantine, especially living in Minnesota during the winter months. I have also been a homeschool mom for many years, so I feel like I am just travelling back in time. The only difference is that my sweet young kids who I used to homeschool are now teenagers.

So we started quarantine off with two strict family rules that applied to everyone. Even the dog.

Rule#1 Go outside before lunch

Rule#2 Go outside before dinner

These two rules were to ensure everyone’s sanity and I enforced them like a police officer. I made sure these two items were checked off our list on a daily basis, rain or shine.

My teens would roll out of bed around 11 am or so which was becoming their new routine. They would stay up late, raid the refrigerator after I was in bed, watch movies, and sleep late. Not a bad way to spend a two week “Spring Break”. As soon as I caught sight of them in the late morning though, after already being up for five hours with my preschooler, I would snap at them to grab some breakfast and get outside. I also knew I needed to keep everyone mentally healthy to survive this together. Plus I needed some babysitters so I could get my own morning walk in and have my only moment of solitude for the day.

I can’t say my kids accomplished a whole lot in these two weeks. My preschooler was probably the most productive of any of us. My older kids were either outside, on their phones, or on their computers. I spent most of my time managing everyone, but at least I also started an online course. I am proud of myself for that small feat, which I usually finish after the kids are in bed.

It sounds like some people have focused on decluttering since they are bored. I can’t say that I have ever had time to be bored and I really hate when I hear my kids say they are bored. I feel like I have so many things I’d like to do, if only I could have more uninterrupted time.

I realized my time for getting things done would come to an abrupt end today since distance learning was beginning so I started a decluttering craze on Saturday and it continued into Sunday. I was just going through old files that I haven’t looked at in far too long, just one of those things I have always put off. Maybe I was just trying to gain more control over what I can do inside my house, since everything is so out of control on the outside.

I thought that if our house could be organized online school would go so much smoother. Well, when you start decluttering, sometimes it just makes a bigger mess. And when you have three children and a husband who do not help in your weekend declutter craze, well sometimes things don’t quite get done. So here we are today, decluttering not close to complete and school work, well I wouldn’t say that got completed today either.

It takes a while for my kids to get in the swing of my rules, but the one thing that did stick with them is to go outside in the morning and afternoon. Their computers sat empty most of this beautiful sixty degree day. I’m glad they have the flexibility to take breaks, but today was definitely more outside time than inside. I’m all for daily exercise and mental health breaks, but they took it to the extreme.

Tomorrow it’s time to get back in the swing of things again. It took us two weeks to get accustomed to quarantine life, I’m sure it will take us another two to get accustomed to quarantine plus distance learning life. After today, I realize I need to start setting my alarm again so I can have time to myself before my kids get up.

Distance Learning is going to be a challenge. It will be a challenge for the teachers, the parents and the students. We are all in this together and we need to give everyone grace. We are all living this new normal and every family has their own unique challenges right now. Teachers, I promise to do my best to make sure my kids are completing their work, but I only have so much time in my day to watch over their every move.

We are all doing the best we can each and every day. That will just have to be enough. I thought the first day of quarantine was rough, but we eventually started to get into a groove that worked for our family. All of our days became the same. There was no such thing as a weekend anymore.

I think getting used to distance learning will be similar. Today was a rough start for being able to focus and complete work, but I know we will eventually find our groove again.

We can do this! We will finish the year healthy and strong and come out better on the other side!

Thank you teachers for all of your hard work! We appreciate you more than ever before!

~DO BETTER & Shine