Me and my family of five live in the Pacific Northwest, the epicenter of the US Covid19 outbreak. On Wednesday night the state governor closed all schools in three counties including our own for a mandatory 6 weeks. The kids went to school for the day on Thursday to gather their belongings and Friday was their first day home. As of Friday afternoon, the entire state of Washington has now been required closed school doors for six weeks.
There are so many unknowns as everything is happening and changing at a rapid pace. Our school district is taking the next week to decide how (or if) to move forward with distance learning. Since there needs to be an equal opportunity for all students, this is a very challenging task. Not all students have access to electronic devices or internet services. In the meantime, parents are scrambling to find ways to keep their children from falling behind academically. Other families are struggling with finding childcare. Still other families are wondering how they will pay their mortgages as many are finding themselves out of jobs either because they don’t have childcare or because they work in jobs that have been negatively affected by this virus.
So far, we’ve been quite lucky. Our family is healthy. My husband is still working and bills are getting paid. All of our “hardships” are social. As a very active sports family with three kids, our world practically revolves around sports practices, games and tournaments. Each day that goes by, more and more gets cancelled. Our schedule for the first time since our kids have been old enough to play is nearly bare. It won’t take long before we go stir crazy.
I’m a homebody by nature so being home and finding ways to keep myself entertained isn’t a problem. It’s my family I’m worried about. I’m taking the first couple of days to settle in and prepare to hunker down for the long haul. I’m inspired by so many that are coming together to offer tips and resources for free homeschooling materials. Our neighborhood is connecting more than we have in the past to get our kids out for some fresh air and socialization. We are going to get through this and be stronger for it in the end.
Here’s how our first day went:
- We slept in and had a slow morning. We stayed in our pajamas while I took the time to make omelets for the kids. This almost never happens on a weekday as mornings are rushed and we are on different schedules.
- I had an errand to run so I took the opportunity while the kids were “trapped in the car” to listen to a Brains On! Podcast on the Coronavirus so that my kids could better understand why I’m enforcing frequent handwashing and why we are being instructed to stay home as much as possible. We will be incorporating fun and educational podcasts into our new schedule.
- While we were out I picked up some exercise equipment so my older kids can do strength and conditioning at home.
- After we got home we had lunch and started reading Harry Potter aloud together. My kids are 9, 11 and 12 so I chose this book because I thought it was one we could all enjoy together. I actually read the first book to them many years ago but they haven’t read it themselves and they were pretty little so don’t remember much of it. This series should keep us busy for 6 weeks and beyond! We took turns reading. When the kids read, I did the “speaking parts” and will have them do the same when I read. We have a hard copy and several devices with the Kindle copy so we can all follow along. This will help keep them from getting distracted. At the end of the chapter I had them give me a summary. Next week this will be a writing assignment instead.
- After that, my older two kids who rarely get along, asked to go on a neighborhood run together. That was a pretty amazing win for day one! I hope to see much more sibling bonding in the near future! I’m so glad they have each other!
- Two of my three kids were extra grumpy today. So many things that they’ve been looking forward to have suddenly been cancelled and continue to be cancelled to the point it feels like there isn’t anything to look forward to anymore. I’m trying to give them grace and understand that this is hard for them too! I’m trying to keep things positive and fun for them.
- We haven’t started a schedule for school work but still felt somewhat successful to have gotten in some reading and educational podcast listening in. My kids have also had plenty of screen time today which I hope to decrease starting Monday. They need their downtime/stress relief too but I really need to keep a handle on it.
- I’m taking the weekend to try to figure out a good schedule and prepare some materials to keep them learning at home. I’ve found a lot of really great ideas being shared on Facebook since all of my friends are in the same boat. Pinterest is also a great resource for homeschooling lessons and materials.
- I took some time today to check in on my parents and my grandma and also connected with moms in my neighborhood. Thankfully we live in a world that allows us to stay connected whether we are face to face or not! Love on your own family but make sure not to cut yourself off too much from the rest of the world either. We all need each other!
- As the day goes on, more and more are coming together as a community with creative and generous ways to help one another. The Public Unity Department announced that they will not be shutting off power for late bills. An internet company came forward and offered free basic internet access for low-income families. This will taken the burden off of schools as other districts have had to provide hotspots to those without access in order to enable online learning in accordance with education being equitable for all. While this hasn’t yet been implemented yet for our district, we are now one step closer. Local restaurants are offering more takeout and delivery options. In fact, one local pizza joint is adding in delivery of groceries and essentials like toilet paper, cheese, vegetables etc. for a cost likely lower than grocery store prices. (Side note: Chris Pratt worked here before he was famous and also painted a mural on the wall of the restaurant that is still there today!). I love seeing the community step up and help out however they can!
Overall, I think day one was a success. I’m hopeful that our time home together will be beneficial though I know there will be days that will be extra hard to get through. Without a doubt, we will get on each others nerves! Still, I’m honestly looking forward to slowing down the pace of life and spending more quality time together at home.
How are you fairing? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear from you!