So it Begins

No. We are not journeying to Mordor to dump an evil ring. Even worse, distance learning has begun. I am obviously joking, but how is everyone coping with distance learning? My babies went back on Tuesday, September 1st. It was going to be a four-day school week with minimum days all week. I told myself not to get too comfortable because the schedule shows them doing school work for at least six hours a day. I remembered what it was like before summer vacation, so I figured that we were ready for whatever came our way. My fiancé and I went out and picked up school supplies. We made sure we planned lunch and breakfast one day in advance. I checked to make sure uniforms were washed, cleaned, and fit correctly. My mom and I even set up their desks with the notebooks, pencils, pens, and crayons they needed. We thought we had this school thing on lock.

Day 1 – False Sense of Security A.K.A the Okie Doke

When the morning came, the whole family was like a well-oiled machine. My older boys split off into their assigned class areas in the house, and I kept Carmen close to me in the living room. Carmen seemed to be enjoying herself. I believe the only issue we had was when her music class started, she decided to give her classmates a tour of my messy house! (Don’t act like yours isn’t messy too. I have three children and run a company. I do what I can. Trust me, 1 preteen aged boy and a teenaged boy and fivenager are the very definitions of perpetual mess tornado.) Besides that extremely mortifying moment, I would say the first day of school went off without a hitch. When they were done, I had lunch on deck and got Jon and Carmen down for a nap. I was a distance learning, CEO of the company, multiple businesses running, mommy blogging, frikken superhero.

The first day was relatively easy. They had a minimum day (half-day). Rob and I left with David to go pick up the books and work packets for the three. I was excited to speak to Jon’s teacher. When we arrived, I said a brief hello to the principal and kept moving. I found Jon’s teacher and told her about my concerns. (You can read about my worries about Jon’s teacher in my post “Back to School? Maybe not.” ) She was very receptive and understanding of my concerns. She also informed me that his teacher from the previous year spoke to her about what’s been working with Jon. It was a great comfort to know that they were in touch and working together. Jon and the whole family absolutely adored his teacher from last year. I also gave her a heads up that he has been really agitated (I suspect it is due to the back to the school situation.) She thanked me, and we gathered up the books and headed home to prepare to do it again the next morning.

Day 2- There’s Something About Brumley

The second day started much like the first one. We got up and got the children bathed, fed, and dressed. David and Jonathan got into an argument about which books belonged to whom. Once the fight was settled, they argued about who needed how many notebooks. It was at that moment that I knew it would be an incredibly long day. They separated into their assigned learning space, and I turned my attention to my daughter. She had five minutes before her school started, so I took her pencils and crayon box out and sat it on her desk. She got upset when class began because her new Kindergarten teacher sang the “Days of the Week” song “all wrong.” Her previous teacher sang the days of the week to the tune of the “Adam’s Family” theme song (complete with the snaps and everything.) It became so much a part of her day. As a family, we dubbed the action of singing this song in this manner, “doing the Brumley.” I explained that every teacher is different, and she has to wipe her face and sit back down.

Her response: more crying, followed by, “BUT SHE’S NOT SNAPPING!”

She settled down during the break, and we tried again. By this time, I gave up on any hope of work getting done. My day consisted of me sitting down to work and Carmen crying. Then me getting up from my work chair to see what the problem is, only to find that she cannot hear her soft-spoken teacher and has lost her place. I find her place, and her papers, sit down for work, and the tears begin again. By the time it was lunchtime, I was the one in tears. The floor surrounding Carmen’s work area was covered with homework papers that she had either bedazzled with her crayons or stepped on. One of them was actually wrinkled into a ball because she crumpled it intending to throw it away. School was finally over. I exhaled and sent Carmen and Jon to take their nap. Jon took his nap willingly because he is tired and ready to sleep. However, Carmen was a whole different situation. When I had the nerve to suggest that she nap, her macaroni and cheese bowl somehow grew wings and launched itself halfway across the kitchen into the sink. By the time the bowl took flight, I was at my mom limit. You know the limit. The point where your patience has reached its end, the second and third chances were over, and you are ready to dole out some consequences. Little miss Carmen was in the corner before she could banshee shriek,

“But I’m not tired! I want my daddy! This is the worst day ever, I want Ms. Brumely!”

The East Coast came out of me for a second, and I responded,

“You’ll be alright.”

I had never been this firm with my daughter, but I think the idea that she was comfortable enough to throw things was unnerving, to say the least. It told me I need to step my boundary game up as a parent. There was an improvement since the three weeks of school work fiasco in May, but it was clear I still had a lot of work to do. If I did not set firm boundaries, I would be in for a long school year. I picked up Carmen’s mess and braced for Day 3.

Day 3- Sweet Relief

Day three went off without a hitch. It was like a strange dream or a comet that happens once every 100 years. Everything was calm; it was like the planets aligned to apologize for Day Two. Trust me, the planets owed me that apology. Day Two was a bear (okay, so maybe Day Two was not a bear. It was more like a five-letter word that also begins with a ‘B.’ Bears are awesome Day Two was not.) The children got up and had the smoothest day. My fiancé and I took turns, directing Carmen. As a family, we kept her on task and the memories of her previous day’s consequences kept her tantrums at bay. The boys bickered less, and David got his homework in early. I got my work done, and I was feeling like Ice Cube.

Day 4- Thank God it’s Friday, Literally

On Friday, I relaxed when it came to school work because it was the first Friday, A.K.A., my favorite day of the distance learning month. Why you ask? Because once I have logged the children into their respective classrooms to social distance worship, I can take a socially distanced nap. First Friday is where the students gather and give praise to God via Livestream mass. While they were thanking God for their many blessings, I was thanking God for that one hour of sleep. (Trust me, sleep is a blessing.) My mother knocked on my door and told me that mass was over. I woke up to find Carmen on break, attempting to wave at her older brothers’ classmates.

Inwardly I thought this was hilarious and cute. Still, I had to set boundaries, and Carmen cannot be disrupting her brothers’ education. So, Miss Carmen landed herself in the corner again. When she got out, I received a message from the room mom that they all heard Carmen throwing her corner tantrums during the break; she left the mic unmuted. I assured them that no harm had befallen my daughter. She was just discovering consequences and boundaries, and she was not liking them. I was sure that between that house tours and the corner tantrums, they were all judging me. To my surprise, they were understanding. We had a conversation about how difficult this mode of learning has been for the TK and Kindergarten. The older children are doing well, but the younger children are getting left behind. They are getting bored; they are not getting the hands-on teaching experience that is best for their age group. Other moms expressed how frustrating checking their older children’s homework is because they know nothing about one subject or another. It has definitely been a learning process. I couldn’t help but ask myself, how can we make this process easier?

Every family is different, but here is what has been working for us.

1. Plan

  • Have their class schedule

  • Do a gear check. Do the children have their books, supplies, and uniforms?

2) Be Consistent

  • If every day at 7AM they bath, then do not switch the routine. This is a highly unusual situation. It’s less stressful for the little ones if they can get some stability in an unstable situation.

3) Communicate and Move as a Unit

  • You and your family are a unit and getting the children through their school day is the mission. Gather them for a pre-mission briefing.

  • Make sure everyone knows what their responsibilities are.

  • Do a dry run. Practice the night before.

  • Synchronize your watches and move like a well-oiled machine. (I am just kidding. Seriously though, just execute what you practiced the night before.

4) Prepare Your Food Ahead of Time.

  • If you are serving cold food like sandwiches and finger foods, make their lunch and bag their snacks the night before.

  • If you are serving hot food

  • Pick something quick like mac and cheese, or corn dogs or burgers…etc. Bottom Line: if it takes more than 20 minutes to cook, it is not the lunch you want.

  • Time the prep and cooking approximately 30 minutes before their scheduled lunch. This prevents them from cutting their lunch short to rush off to class because you were late with the hot food.

  • Things happen. If hot lunch is not happening on time, have backup sandwiches, so your babies do not go hungry.

5) Give Yourself a Window of 1 hour per child.

  • No one wants their child to be the late student that the teacher has to stop class to let in. Make sure they are clicking on zoom 10-15 minutes early.

I sincerely hope this helps get you through the school year. If you are still struggling with tutoring and homework check out our Mommy VIP program.

Inspired by the first day of school, and created just for you. As always, relax Mom, you’re doing just fine.

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