I don’t even know where to start. Maybe here: Take care of yourself – and then, do something to help others. Even if it’s just a text to say you care, I think little gestures that connect and give hope are some of the most powerful ones we can all make. Every day.
As we all struggle to figure out what to do right now (and as a DOER I can honestly say this is so hard for me), I’ve struggled to find what I have to offer. In full transparency, I’m struggling, period. Balancing trying to reconstruct a job that is primarily built on bringing together humans in a live setting (not a great idea right now) and trying to help our family stay safe but not scared has overwhelmed me at times. And we’re barely at the beginning of this challenge.
But I have hope. And if you’re listening, sometimes your children have just the right answers. First of all, on Friday as things were “getting real” and school officially closed, the kids asked to watch Rise of the Guardians again, an animated film with Jack Frost as the troubled protagonist trying to find his purpose while surrounded by iconic figures who are clear about theirs: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman. Imagine trying to get clear on your worth among those?
Not to spoil anything, but there was a dark figure who challenged them ALL to find their way, and through his struggle, Jack finds himself. Who doesn’t need to watch THAT right now? (Thanks, Zoe & Ella!)
As a person with control issues who is inclined to action, I can be “a lot” (just ask my husband). So as soon as schools were closing on Friday, we prepped to pick up our children, tell them we were going to be OK – that we were going to make the most of this time – and try go find a new normal.
And I had done my research. With online tips for how to entertain children during this crisis (thank you, parents everywhere for sharing!), I quickly had a list of things to keep us busy. But I knew this first week without “normal” was going to be tough, so on Saturday (after making the tough choice to cancel Zoe’s pre-virus sleepover), we played.
We made slime. We went for two walks. We drew a racetrack in chalk outside (yes, Ella is still in her pajamas, and no, we are not very good yet):
We also found a way to make Zoe’s sleepover “virtual”, which basically entailed “face time” on the House Party app (in a locked room) sharing stories, looking at slime, and playing the Pictionary style game that’s embedded in the app (which I highly recommend even though I can’t draw a thing). If you’re looking for fun things your children (or you!) can do with others on video with FaceTime or House Party, here’s a short list:
- Costume contest
- Art show (draw/design/vote or explain art)
- Shark Tank (present idea for product)
- Virtual “coffee break” – bring/describe your drink / snack of choice
- “Little known facts about me” game
- Baby pictures (share + stories)
- “Guess what this is” (draw/show picture of only part of something and guess)
- Simon Says
Ella got special snuggle time with mom during the sleepover, mostly to keep her out of the way for the ‘big girls’ – but also because I very much needed a snuggle. Oh, and if you want to try to do those things with OUR kids, let me know. I’m pretty sure we’ve got weeks of schedule to fill…
It may sound like we had a fabulous day on Saturday, but let’s just say I was no saint. My child, however, might be. Thankfully I was holding my tongue as Zoe was “stalling” in her room before bed, though it was almost 10 pm and she had been allowed more screen time than ever with her friends. What she was really doing was this:
I will ignore every typo and tell you that it still makes me tear up. Be thankful you can’t see the other side of my hand with raw knuckles from our 20-second hand washing, thanks to this handy sign I printed & put up on the mirror in the bathroom.
My song is Jolene, what’s yours?
On Sunday the girls created a Grand Carnival for us to play, filled with games (I won) and tickets for the winning (did I mention I won?), and my mom joined us via FaceTime to giggle at our antics. We also went for a family bike ride, then got to work planning for our first week of “school but no school”. But first, like father, like daughter?
THANK GOODNESS FOR TEACHERS.
With a mom who taught for 30 years, I’ve always been a believer in how amazing teachers are, but in a crisis, when we remember that they are HUMANS dealing with all the same things we are, they SHOW UP every day to care for our kids. Yes, I know kids aren’t the mostly likely to spread this virus, but they touch EVERYTHING (including us). And still, in the midst of that, they sent home packets and books and ideas, oh my! – and are still connected digitally to support us crazy parents.
THANK YOU, TEACHERS.
My first step as the “new” teacher was to (of course) Google doc it. Yes, we have one, with an outline of a schedule that sets clear expectations for what happens when – and makes room for the obvious: Mom & Dad still have to WORK. The fun part was inserted by our children – see the sign up top, and WELCOME to the Fun Day School!
Day One was, well, challenging. Sure, it started out OK – even a little bit fun! Zoe, er, Teacher Peach was amazing (I’m Teacher Orange, Bart is Teacher Melon, Ella is, well, still very much a student…). Zoe not only managed her own schedule but offered to watch the time and help Ella transition. What we didn’t plan for? A 5-year-old who is aware that she is “at school” but HOME with her parents within reach. I think the home school attention span for a TK student is around 12 minutes… But we did our best.
As a wise person told me after the fact, we need to work in HUG TIME on the schedule! During exercise time our “table tennis” net showed up from Amazon (insert Thanks for online shopping). With pouring rain outside all day, it saved us, as I’ll also share that small children have a lot of energy they need to get OUT.
Regardless, we made it through ONE DAY, and I am hopeful that the following days will allow us to create a rhythm we can live with – thrive in, even!
Let’s be clear. As I write this I know there are SO MANY PEOPLE whose problems are greater than mine. No work, no food, fear about where money will come from – or perhaps they have work, the kind that exposes them to this virus we all fear, and no simple way to care for their children or loved ones that is safe and consistent.
I only hope that by making time to share my story and do the thing people tell me I do: Bring the Positive (in a playful way), I can help. So smile. Don’t tell yourself this isn’t happening but DO tell yourself that we have a choice to do our best, in our individual situations with our unique talents, and that it may be all we can confidently “do”.
We haven’t pulled off anything extraordinary over here at the Johnson house – yet! – but we sure are going to give it a try.
Wishing you health and love – and us all the ability to find patience, and our purpose in the middle of this very heavy time. And remember: