One Small Thing – Daily Anchors to Hang Your Week On
Adjusting to a major life change is not something that happens all at once. It’s a series of small changes. We all made one big decision to become home educating parents, but we didn’t then become that parent overnight. We made and continue to make small adjustments to how we home educate all the time. We’ve reinvented ourselves slowly and repeatedly. And we will continue to do so.
This pandemic is a novel obstacle to overcome in our pursuit of happy home educating. Reinventing ourselves may feel harder this time. Perhaps it is especially so because we know this situation is temporary and the work of reinvention may seem extreme in comparison to the actual inconvenience. But we are well practised and therefore well equipped, maybe better than most, to reinvent ourselves temporarily to support our families through this.
In honour of our many small changes, past and present, this is One Small Thing – a series of small changes you can make to help improve your current situation.
Hang Something on the Day
Early on in the lockdown I tried hard to keep things from our old routine where I could.
- Monday – penny sweets
- Tuesday – speak to my folks on whatsapp
- Wednesday – still no big plan but music lessons might happen over zoom?
- Thursday – food shop and the nearly the end of the week bit of chocolate
- Friday – still no plan and for some reason I find fridays hard right now
- Saturday – The Family Monoplex (where each week a family member chooses a movie/tv programme for us to watch together. We let daddy go first because he couldn’t care less about most movies, and he shared two episodes of Jeeves and Wooster with the children, which was really good.)
- Sunday – a scoop of ice cream (Sunday Sundaes! which came from a very old issue of Martha Stewart Kids, and which we have been doing for years now.)
I’m not sure why so many of ours are food based and yours don’t have to be. The point is that these anchors take little brain space and preparation, leaving you the time and faculties to focus on other challenges. This is why I haven’t made a certain day an art day, or a cooking day, although you totally could if that would work for you.
The point is to have something that reminds your children (and – let’s be honest here – you) what day of the week it is, as well as giving them small things to look forward to.
The rest is up to them.
Give your children the space to find interesting things they want to do, and then the space in which to do it. In our house, right now, there has been way more attention given to things the children are personally interested in learning about, than what I had in my plan.
I am sympathetic to boredom. I have cuddles and kind words for a broken hearted child, who hates what is going on, and wishes with all their heart that they could hang out with their best friend.
If I can say yes to a think they want to do, then I will say yes. Yes you can use the computer to work on your D&D character. Yes, you can sew a relaxed flat hamster while I read. I can’t always say yes, and that’s ok. So, no I can’t help you with this complicated craft because I’m making dinner. No you can’t keep working on it, because it’s time for bed.
I can see the skills being learnt, and practised. There is more writing going on in our house now than ever before. It doesn’t have to be ‘my stuff’ for it to be worthwhile.
Because actually you’re really busy, home ed parent.
There is a great book called ‘What Mother’s Do (Especially when it looks like nothing) by Naomi Stadlen which attempts to explain what is going on in those long early days of being a parent where you don’t feel like you’ve done anything but you’re completely exhausted. I keep thinking about it now, because a lot of what I’m doing I’m sure looks like nothing, but it takes up so much time. Loving our children through this pandemic, takes time, and thought and effort. It takes patience.
So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not tackling big projects with all of your ‘free time.’ It’s not free time. It’s actually really, really full of big important things that just happen to look, from the outside, like nothing.
But it’s not nothing to your children. It’s everything.