The other day, my teenage son asked, “How do you do it, Mom? How do you stay inside all day?” It was more of a rhetorical question, considering the answer was a given. Clearly, he was feeling the effects of the pandemic—schools, malls, theaters, and restaurants shut down for months—which had impacted his social life.
“It’s easy, buddy,” I said, smiling. “Actually, I don’t have a problem with it because I have no choice; so I’ve been using my brain to come up with new ideas, like writing a book or blogging. Why don’t you try playing a game or finding a podcast that inspires you?”
“I’m not looking for answers,” he said. “I’m just curious. This is more about you.” Translation: Please give me some ideas to overcome my boredom; but if I don’t like your suggestions, then I’ll do my own thing. We choose our battles, and that’s not one I’m willing to start.
Parents, here are some helpful ways to get through these challenging times:
It’s A Balancing Act
There are many important takeaways I’ve learned from teaching and mentoring my son and other children for nearly two decades. Each day is a balancing act; building relationships, serving others before yourself, fulfilling your personal needs, staying spiritually grounded, and maintaining a healthy mind and body are equally essential. Additionally, a succession of bad days can improve after a good night’s sleep. And as long as people listen to unspoken cues, families can maintain peace.
Take Care of Yourself First
Parents as teachers need to take care of themselves before launching into other responsibilities for their children, especially during the quarantine; in other words, as directed by flight attendants, first place the oxygen mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others. I’ve convinced my subconscious mind that stretching exercises and filling children’s thoughts with knowledge are equally important, which is why mini-indoor-workouts seem like a logical step before tutoring; I pace back and forth in the family room, circle the kitchen island, and throw my arms in the air while doing high-knee lifts. Then during virtual tutoring sessions—when kids get distracted or lose focus—I ask them to stand up, stretch, jog in place, do jumping jacks or whatever they need to promote laughter (yes, plenty of laughter) for mental breaks. Of course, breathing in the scent of wintery pine trees on a dirt trail would be better for all of us; but there’s a time and place for everything, and patience during the pandemic will help everybody to get through this paradigm shift.
Lead by Example
Parents can positively influence their children by slowing down each day to celebrate the small wins, such as reading accomplishments or improved math scores; leading by example creates a compound effect of healthier minds, bodies, and relationships. Also, showing family members how to appreciate the seemingly-little things in life—like blood flowing through our hearts, air filling our lungs, and cognition occupying our brains—helps them value the greatest blessings, which are far more important than enforcing above-average grades at school.
Yes, a sudden change of fundamental pleasures is frustrating; but lackluster social lives and distance learning are just cogs in the wheel of life. The planet will continue to spin, whether we stay indoors or gradually tempt fate by exploring the world again. Either way, finding a balancing act, taking care of ourselves, and leading by example create much healthier experiences and a lifetime of happiness.
HomeschoolFacts.com has a complete list of support groups to help support you in your homeschooling endeavors and connect with homeschoolers near you. You can search the list of support groups here: https://www.homeschoolfacts.com/homeschool-support-groups.html
Gina Wileman is a published author (My Twisted Life In Middle School: Best Friends & Bullies) and the owner of EUREKA! Tutoring (EurekaTutoring-SMILES.com), where she offers in-studio and virtual tutoring sessions for students (grades K-12). She homeschooled her son for ten years (2003-2013) and was a networking group facilitator of hikes, field trips, classes, plays, and club events for homeschool families in southern California. Gina loves teaching and mentoring students, writing books and blogs, listening to personal-growth podcasts, furthering her spiritual development, and creating allergy-friendly recipes. Mostly, she cherishes time spent with her husband, son, and two shih-tzu pups.