We survived! That’s the sentiment I felt at the end of this week as we closed out the first 15 school days for us. It has been hard.
I thought about what was making it so hard and I was reminded that this is a big transition. Every year the children go through an adjustment period of a few weeks when school begins. I have to remind myself that grace upon grace is needed.
It’s easy as adults to think about transitions and process them but I have to remember little kids do not think like adults. The kids get used to summer, to freedom from a schedule, to being outside half the day and enjoying a lack of routine other than to have fun. This is why the transition back can feel like it’s so hard for everyone. Of course you throw in the transition being during a pandemic and it probably feels like system overload!
I sat with myself and came up with some strategies to help cope. Maybe they will help someone else out there struggling right now too.
Brain Breaks – The kids need them, but so do the parents leading them! I set a timer for the kids for 15-30 minutes depending on their needs and they get to run around, head outside, or do sets of stairs. Anything that gets their little bodies moving and engaged again. And I realized I need those little breaks for my day too. I put on some worship music and move around, go for walks, whatever helps me break away from using my brain.
Morning Quiet Time – I realized I need quiet time in the morning to get started. I wake up earlier than everyone else and sit to pump milk for the baby who is 3 months old, and I read my Bible during that time. I went back to a paper Bible and leave my phone on silent on the charger until my reading time is over. It helps me focus better and places the Word in me before anything else has time to get in. After I finish pumping I go outside for a run, or a walk. During this quiet time of exercise alone I listen to a podcast or worship music, usually a combination of both, and really have come to enjoy this time. It helps me recharge, and be prepared to face the day.
Seek Social Support – This sounds obvious but for some of us it always is not. I am naturally an introvert, when the pandemic started I was more than comfortable staying home and moving things virtually and being alone more. Depression started to creep in. I realized I needed social support still, being alone is awesome and it does help me recharge, but I still needed to talk to other adults. I reached out to my sister and we started getting together weekly. I also have set up a weekly visit with 2 close girl friends who also have children homeschooling so our children play and I can spend time with adults. We aren’t meant to go through life completely alone, we all need a few close friends for support, especially during this time!
Healthier Eating – I know when I am stressed, depressed, anxious, you name it, I turn to food to help me cope. Or I allow myself to get so busy that I end up eating quick processed junk food to keep going. Taking the time to nourish my body with whole, fresh foods has greatly improved my mood. I realized processed food had to go, and focusing on healthy whole foods that did not have added sugars and oils has been a good change for me.
Ask For Help – This one is the hardest for me. I hate asking for help. Understanding that about myself, and doing some self-reflection on why I hate asking for help has gotten me to see the problem with this. I have forced myself to be more open and honest about how I am doing and feeling. I have reached out to others when I need support, and asked for help when I am feeling overwhelmed. It is not perfect, and I am still working on this but this improvement is helping me not feel so alone.
Plan Ahead – I learned this the hard way this year. Having 6 kids and 3 in school in different grades requires much more plan ahead work than I anticipated. I have really learned that I need to pull their worksheets ahead of time and put them in daily labeled folders, Monday through Friday. I have to put all of my calls, meetings, work, ministry, and graduate work into one calendar. Finally I use Todist, a list app that allows me to enter my homework assignments, ongoing grocery list, and various tasks I need to do throughout the week with deadlines and alerts. I still miss things, but it is slowly getting better.