Oh hey, school is closed for three weeks.
Along with all other activities, including eating out, chilling at the coffee shop, going to the library, socializing and hanging out with friends — literally All The Things one is SUPPOSED to do with kids.
Sooooo … now what? This means the kiddos are home, and there’s nowhere else for them to go and no one else for them to see.
That brings its own set of weirdness, which, I imagine, each family is dealing with differently.
For us, I’m thankful that our regular split-custody schedule is staying the same. And given that the kids can really be around only immediate family for now, it’s kind of nice for them to have the variety of seeing their mom, and then getting out of the house to come see us for a few days.
(Selfishly, it’s also good for the adults involved, too, I think — that we get to be full-on with the kids for a few days, then take a break while they go back to their mom’s, and vice versa. We are lucky.)
THE TOUGH STUFF
In a way, these past few days have kinda been like summer vacation — except, weirder.
Because, sure, we aren’t sending them off on the bus in the mornings, and they’re with us all day. But — it’s March. And kids still need to learn stuff.
(While their dad and I are still actually working [from home].)
Let’s just say, that went over better with one of the kids than the other.
I really tried to be as nice as I could. I didn’t raise my voice no matter how frustrated I got. And we even were all laughing at several points — but the work still wasn’t getting done.
I couldn’t understand it.
Eventually, after trying all flippin day to get this kid to finish an assignment that really could have been done in 20 minutes instead of hours, I surrendered and needed to get my own work done.
I heard my husband upstairs talking to the kid, in a kind but firm tone.
And apparently that’s what the kid needed, because by the time I came upstairs again, the project was miraculously done.
And the same thing happened with the rest of the assignments, too:
Even when I tried to be nice (and the kid was nice back), the work wasn’t getting done.
When I left the situation alone and my husband handled it, the work got done.
I’ve heard in plenty of stepmomming groups the importance of adopting the “nacho kid” approach — that stepparents need to step back and let the bio-parent handle things alone sometimes.
This time, I saw it in action.
And even though I know the kids love me, and it isn’t a matter of disrespect (thankfully) — the fact is, my husband is their dad, and I guess they’ll listen to him more than they’ll listen to me.
And that isn’t entirely a bad thing.
THE GOOD STUFF
Mercifully, not everything has been quite as teeth-pulling as certain Academic Projects That Shall Not Be Named.
For one: For the first time, I’m actually thankful my stepkids aren’t involved in extracurriculars or sports or anything, They already spend a lot of time at home, and I think that’s probably helped them with the transition — because it isn’t vastly different from their status quo.
I’ve always lamented their lack of extra socialization — but now, I see it as a blessing.
We’d planned to take the kids out for a hike in nearby woods this past weekend, because I’d figured we’d all be climbing the walls — but we ended up being so busy with life around (and outside) the house (AND without breaking our screentime limits!) that we ran out of time to actually go to the woods.
Given the circumstances these days, I’d say that’s a decent problem to have.
In other good news, I’d printed out a “daily schedule” for weekdays, and the kids were surprisingly enthusiastic about the calendar — so much that one of them even said they want to make a similar thing at their mom’s house.
We also started ending our nights with journaling. I’ve read in plenty of places that
- A) watching screens shouldn’t be the last thing before bed, and
- B) writing things down by hand helps make us more mindful
So to hit both things, we asked the kids to write in “journals” before going to sleep. And I was genuinely surprised at how un-objective they were.
… Granted, it’s still a work in progress. The first night that I asked my stepdaughter to write in her journal, she only drew pictures. So for the next night, I made an actual worksheet with questions to answer — which was better, but the answers were still … entertainingly not quite what I’d been hoping for.
The third night, we worked on it together, and I actually explained the concepts a bit more.
Now both kids have been totally fine with the worksheet for the past few nights, and I hope it’s something we can continue as a regular practice even after this whole coronavirus mess is over with.
ALL THE STUFF
Really, I could go on and on about these past few days. There have been LOTS of ups and downs. I can’t even imagine the kinds of stories other families are having right now.
And we’ve still only gotten through Week 1 of the … school closures / quarantine / shutdown / social distancing / end of the world as we know it.
It’s all nuts.
But I guess one good thing is, we’re all going through some form of the madness together. Literally the entire freaking world is feeling the effects of this.
And those of us that are lucky enough to work from home, and stay home with our kids, with the comforts of a house/apartment and internet and a full pantry (and possibly even toilet paper) — we shouldn’t take for granted how good we have it.
Even with all the craziness happening out there right now.
Here’s one last thing to make you smile: For a “school at home” assignment last week, my stepson had to write a comic about one of his heroes. I wasn’t in the room at the time when he made his choice. But does this sound like anyone you know? 🙂