Getting Through Virtual Learning

Tips & Ideas Getting Through Being Home 24/7 and Dealing with Remote Education

For those of you who still have to remain working through the pandemic this article may not be for you. I have been fortunate enough to take an unpaid leave from my job as a paraprofessional at an elementary school, to stay home with my children for 100% virtual learning. But even if you are still working you might find some of the following ideas and tips helpful. Do not think for a minute that I have not been struggling with not working; missing my job, my friends and especially the income – money is tight!

Set Your Expectations Low

The best thing that we can do for any unforeseen change in our lives is to keep a positive attitude. Please keep in mind that our own feelings trickle down into our children… so the very best we can do for our children is to remain positive! We have already been doing this for a few months now, but maybe some of you just started -or are just still not used to this. This was not in the cards for any of us, and for most of us this situation is certainly not ideal – *so it is ok to let things go.

Each day gives us a new beginning, a chance to start over. Take advantage of each new morning. Set your expectations LOW and this way it won’t feel so bad if we don’t get as much done as we ideally would like to.

Realize that it is going to be rough for a little while, especially for little ones. Sometimes sitting next to them is all they need. Some emotional and moral support to get them through. *Kids need lots of reward breaks – to be rewarded with a desirable object for just a few minutes, after each completed task – maybe after they finish reading a chapter they get to blow bubbles with you, or maybe play with a fidget toy, sometimes a few minutes with playdough or putty. This is where some prep work may come in handy – check out Pinterest for some ideas.

Try creating a picture chart of desirable “prizes” the child can work for after they complete an assignment. If they have it in front of them, they will be more likely to work on completing the assignment. The younger they are, the smaller amount of time spent on each project.

When my kids were younger and they would be exhausted from a long day at school and had homework (during kindergarten and younger grades) I would reward them with small things. Say they had to write sentences – I would give 2 M&M’s after each sentence. Get creative and have fun with it!

For the older ones make them believe in themselves and want to be proud of the work they do. Their school work is their way to earn video / screen / electronic and phone time. Maybe try to entice them by offering rewards of a new Lego set, a new video game, money towards a specific game, makeup, clothing etc. by earning a certain grade percentage each marking period.

Some other ideas for rewards could be a “social distanced trip to a relative’s house”, making their favorite lunch or dinner, ordering a pizza, ordering from a favorite place. DIY milkshakes or smoothies. A fun, family game night with snacks and music. What about a movie night with popcorn. A visit to a nearby lake or beach. You get the idea.

We know the littler ones are definitely harder so hang in there mama! Make sure to always spread a positive attitude to your kids.

GROW A Routine Gradually

I know I needed some time, especially with school times that changed a bit in the very beginning to develop a schedule and routine. Children respond well to routines and structure. It may take a few days or weeks but you will figure out what works best for everyone. Find what routine works for all of you and maybe keep a mental checklist or write in a planner of how each school day will begin. This is the routine we have going by each school day and it seems to work- but always remain FLEXIBLE and teach your children to be positive if things may not work out perfectly. Sometimes the internet isn’t working right – you can get to the work later. Be proactive and email teachers – just roll with it. Why stress over things you cannot control? Staying in communication with teachers, other parents and the district can be super helpful.

Here is my example routine for school days:

  • Morning Coffee 7am (before puppy comes out of her crate) giving me time to wake up and enjoy the sunrise
  • 7:45 let dog out of crate and take puppy outside
  • Kids are getting up and dresses for the day on their own (we NEVER linger in pajamas)
  • 8:15 prep breakfast for the kids and myself – sometimes Nicky takes a shower at this time before school.
  • 8:35 Mikey is beginning gym and logging for the day – shower for him. Let puppy run the deck where she is safe.
  • 8:45 Nicky’s classes begin. Feed puppy
  • 9:00 wash dishes and head into shower/get dressed – start laundry if needed
  • 9:30 moisturize face & neck
  • 9:45 making beds
  • 10:00 sometimes Mikey needs me to sit with him through math. Sometimes I am beginning to write or listing ideas in my planner. Brainstorming occurs.
  • 11:00 Mikey’s lunchtime
  • 11:30-12:15 brainstorming / vacuuming: time for chores or what needs to be done. Let puppy out. Sometimes a Shoprite order pickup. (Eat something myself) feed puppy
  • 12:20-1:30 Nicky’s lunch. Take puppy out
  • 1:30-2:30 time for writing / reading / cleaning/ walking outside – checking in on my friends. Planning ahead: future vacations, birthday ideas, seasonal holiday ideas i.e.: Valentine’s Day
  • 2:45 Nicky is done for the day. Take puppy out
  • 3:30 Mikey is usually done for the day (except now for all virtual days he ends at 1:26)
  • 3:30 – 4:30 UNPLUG! Daily walk outside with kids – weather permitting. If inclement weather then inside working out, chatting about our day – connecting while we are disconnected from electronics – sometimes we head into the LEGO room in the basement and get on the elliptical and bike.
  • 5:00 Husband comes home and start dinner.
  • 6:30 cleaning up dinner and workout time. Husband feeds puppy and takes her out 😏😏
  • 6:45-7:30 workout
  • 7:45-8:30 watching TV with husband
  • 8:30-9:30 snuggling with the kids and they go to bed. Yes my kids still have a bedtime! Routine is key – just because they are home doesn’t mean they get to stay up all hours each night. Sleep is required for good health and growth and so they aren’t too cranky to do school!

Connect With Your Kids

What have you been doing to connect with your kids? Maybe you won’t find them as annoying if you get down on their level and connect with them. Are they interested in crafts? Find crafts to do with them! There are so many ideas on Pinterest.

Are you doing your best for them? Try making that a priority.

My older son LOVES LEGO – I feed into his creative interest daily – it is good and healthy. There are ideas all over for creating without having to spend money.

My younger son loves sports and wants to get into working out (although he is a little young at just 10 years old) – we try to help with that as much as we can. We make future plans of what we can do. Right now North Jersey is loaded with 4 feet of snow so we have to plan everything for now. (Smacking my head with my hand). Yes they both love video game (**rolls eyes and sighs**) – listen it is tough times and they can’t see their friends as much as they would like to – so we just have to roll with the punches sometimes and this is their only means of communicating and “hanging with friends”. Find ways to motivate and inspire through whatever it is they enjoy – and do not forget it is hard on them too.

I look forward to, LOVE and really enjoy our daily walks after school. If you have good whether where you live, consider yourself LUCKY and get outside. Its horrifically cold in North Jersey loaded with snow – but I BUNDLE UP and get us outside. It really helps the kids detox from electronics and raises creativity and mood dramatically. I wear 2 hats, ski gloves, a thermal, a sweatshirt and a heavy coat. I have hand-warmers for the kids – they don’t dress as heavy but they also don’t feel it as much.

Listen to what excites your children. Listen to what makes them happy. Get down on the floor and play with them. Talk to them about what they love. Watch favorite shows together. Use their interests to motivate them. Get them to help you bake, help you clean – teach them to start helping… eventually they will enjoy it but show them how with positivity. They may groan and moan at first but it passes. Just like our walks each day – sometimes we start out with moans and groans but within minutes it turns into fantastic conversation time.

No matter what remain positive and flexible. If you need to go privately into the bathroom now and then to cry and let it out – by all means do it.

What Are YOU Doing for YOU?

Each day make some time for YOU. When I am doing laundry or when I hop on the elliptical (even sometimes during weight lifting) I really enjoy listening to some of my favorite YouTubers. I also enjoy listening to music during these times.

Here is a list of some of my favorite YouTubers – you can click on them and it will bring you to their channel:

Lisa J. Beauty

Jen Lefforge

Jen Lefforge’s JoyFul Living

All Ears Molly

DFB – Disney Food Blog

The Dis

Brittany Vasseur

Could it be time to join a virtual book club?

Have you tried journaling and documenting life during these times?

Get outside and get some sun! It is proven that being outside and in nature every day helps with depression, stress, creativity. I not only make my kids walk for them, but I do it because it mostly helps ME out every day. I keep a list of outdoor hikes and walks I cannot wait to try this spring and summer.

I enjoy planning ahead. I need things to look forward to. When planning a vacation set a budget on how much you can save towards it every week. Have you tried a Plum Paper Planner?

Meditation is something for everyone and should especially be utilized at this time.

Have you tried a new hobby or new craft? Make a list of things you would like to try.

Try learning about minimalism or gardening. Research the Marie Kondo – Kon Mari folding method.

Be Grateful

This can be easier said than done sometimes. Each day find something to be grateful for. When the kids and I are able to take our daily walks I look at the gorgeous sun and I feel so thankful for the sun and sky each and everything day. I am so thankful for the extra time I have with my kids at this time – so I have been trying really hard to make the best out of it. This is coming from someone who hates summer to end because I feel like my time with them becomes short again. I enjoy having them all to myself to go on whatever adventures await us.

Each day write down one or two things you are grateful for.

I am grateful that we have a house big enough where we can move into different rooms throughout the day for a change of scenery. I am also grateful for our deck and pool in the nice weather. I am grateful that our home is big enough to keep us, 2 families (my parents live with us), from getting in each other’s hair. I am grateful for living in the beautiful area we do, that offers so much beauty in nature and several trails and state forests to explore.

Do not mistake this for not being hard on me… I was the type of Mom who was always on the “GO”. Meaning after school every day, I was running the kids to whatever sports and clubs – to keep everyone busy and happy. Since they were babies on the weekends we were always visiting a zoo, an aquarium, Liberty Science Center and countless places – until sports started to take over. All summer we were out and about – taking trips to the shore, meeting friends at the lake, visiting waterparks and planning my next Disney Trip. Since last March our lives have taken a big abrupt STOP. Yes I miss it! YES, I miss my coworkers and making money! I have not become scornful about it all I am trying to embrace it all not feel contempt. I try to welcome the laid back time we have had. I have learned to embrace the outdoors – and find it as another exercise outlet and a way to connect with my kids.

Learn to catch yourself when you start to feed on negativity. It is so easy to do. Don’t do it! Find positive places to release your energy into. If you find anyone on social media is bringing you down, it is perfectly OK to block/ unfriend / snooze or whatever you need to do to keep things lite, productive and worthwhile. If it is not social media and it is a person you must see each day then limit your time with them and distance yourself. Its perfectly great to put yourself first.

Take HELP From Those Around You When Needed

If you have family and friends willing to help you out with your children, especially if you are working – then please do take the help! There is no harm in taking the help. Maybe it will actually help the person offering… food for thought. Again this is something else to be flexible with and always staying positive.

Please do not be too proud to take support from anyone, as I would hope you would do the same for those around you.

Keep your faith. Keep Praying. Know that things are going to get better.

What are you doing to pass the time while you are doing your part in stopping the spread?

Are you planning on a Disney Trip any time soon?

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