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?

LEGO Harry Potter Diagon Alley

LEGO Provides Creative Outlet: Therapy & Inspired Creativity During Pandemic

LEGO Harry Potter Diagon Alley brings my older son Mikey’s LEGO Collection to 743 sets, with 1,676 Minifigures. This delicately detailed set comes with 5,544 pieces, with 21 bags and 4 books of building fun. Mikey spent between 7-10 hours building this set during Christmas week when he received it as a Christmas gift. Mikey found the windows in this particular set to be most interesting. Needless to say it was his favorite gift! Lego Harry Potter Diagon Alley has become one of this LEGO Expert, Builder, and Creator’s all time favorite setsfor NOW. Mikey likes to keep track of all his LEGO Sets and Minifigures in a website called Brickset.com .

Mikey’s Completed Lego Harry Potter Diagon Alley

LEGO has always been a source of therapy for Mikey and a creative outlet. LEGO is so very inspirational…. I have always loved Mikey’s interest and love for LEGO. LEGO building teaches children how to follow directions as well as it is inspiring. It is fantastic for fine motor skills. When we aren’t out hiking and I want my kids off of screens, video games & electronics LEGO is what I turn to. Get off the screens and get creative!

I purchased this set along with many others through Rakuten. Sometimes I purchase Legos through the Rakuten site either from the LEGO Store (which offers a lot of neat promotions), Walmart, Target or Kohls depending on pricing. I enjoy online shopping through a site called Rakuten where I get cash back quarterly just by shopping through them. The LEGO Store – www.lego.com usually provides some good cash back deals through Rakuten.

Simply copy and paste this link into your browser:

https://www.rakuten.com/r/VBRAGA?eeid=28187

Next: create an account. Once you have created an account you click on what store you would like to shop from and that is all you need to do.

My January 2021 Cash Back Balance!

I should be expecting my next Rakuten check to come in February. After all the online Christmas shopping, I have earned $101.00 cash back! I am so excited. Some of the stores I enjoy shopping through Rakuten are: Macy’s, Chewy, Walmart, Target, LEGO, Sephora, Ulta, BAM Books A Million, Kohls, Old Navy, BJ’s and more!

When we visit Disney World one of our must-do stops while there is the LEGO Store in Disney Springs! You never know what Lego statues and decorations you find surrounding you. The LEGO Store in Disney Springs accepts Disney Gift Cards – so you can save money if you are a member of BJ’s or Costco which sells Disney Gift Cards at discounted pricing and use them for your LEGO Store purchases in Disney Springs. Am I the only one who still calls it “Downtown Disney”?!

We are excitedly awaiting the opening of Legoland NY! The new theme park that was supposed to open last year but was delayed to the world pandemic of COVID-19 is located closely in Goshen, NY. Just 40 minutes from our North Jersey home. After a year of being inside, we are really looking forward to hitting this park daily.

We are really hoping to check out the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios in Florida this year!

Coming up for Mikey’s 13th Birthday this March, Mikey is asking for LEGO Ninajago City Gardens which is a 5,685 piece set. We are super excited to see how this set comes out and just how long it takes Mikey to build!

Mikey has also spent some time designing and building his own LEGO house.

What are you doing to safely pass the time during COVID-19?

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Our Experience with Covid-19 and Tips on What We Did to Treat It.

When you have something as serious as COVID-19, why not try everything in your power to battle it with home remedies and all?

While many people decided to continue to celebrate and partake in Thanksgiving festivities, my husband, our two children and I were isolated to our bedrooms positive with Covid-19 trying desperately not to pass it to my elderly parents who have a slew of pre-existing health conditions. This is our story on how we got through it.

Lucky for us, praying still and knocking on wood, none of us had to be taken to the hospital. Here is what we did to help and prevent it from going to our lungs. ** I am by no means a DR, so please check with your physician first on adding any new supplements, medication etc. to your daily regimen.

I am writing to inform you on everything we did to survive Covid – if you happen to know anyone who has it – there isn’t a lot of information going around for people that have it… and we believe what we did prevented it from going to the lungs.  Feel free to forward this information to anyone you think may have it. It can only help – cannot hurt. But for vitamins and medications everyone should always ask their doctor. ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN FIRST.


1) Keep moving – take walks several times a day – even if they are small walks – don’t lay flat / sleep on stomach – or in recliner but try to walk every half hour.  We took the kids for long walks in the driveway 3 times a day regardless if we had fevers. * If the sun is out, get your face in the sun for a few minutes every day.


2) Definitely take acetaminophen and ibuprofen round the clock – especially Ibuprofen or possibly asprin to avoid blood clots because for some reason Covid can cause blood clots. Talk to your physician.


3) We took Mucinex as a preventative. Unfortunately, our kids had cough and congestion so they took it for that but Mike and I took it for a few days to be safe even though we didn’t have coughs. (So yes, children can catch it and their symptoms can be mild – severe).


4) We all used Claritin and Flonase, as well as Saline Nasal Spray and humidifiers in our bedrooms as well as Vicks on the chest at night. The 4 of us take probiotics daily and the kids always take small doses of melatonin.  My husband and I took magnesium at different points during the virus as well. 


5) ESSENTIAL OILS – we strongly believe the Young Living Essential Oils blends we used helped with preventing chest congestion and also helps with fever.  The blend we used are: Frankincense, Thieves, Lemon, Peppermint, R.C. and Eucalyptus.  The Frank, Peppermint and Thieves all have antiviral properties and fight against infection as well as are good for upper respiratory. It is expensive but I have been using them for years when anyone gets sick – helps fight it.  *Apply 3 times during the day and when going to bed on  the neck, temples, spine and soles of the feet. 


6) Vitamins C, D, & Zinc – ask your physician how much is good for you. For our children they said 1200mg of vitamin C a day but we only gave them around 700mg a day and my husband and I took around 1000mg. We tried to eat a lot of fruit during this time.


7) We tried to eat as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible – I made a home made chicken soup and put turmeric, cinnamon and ginger in it…. Turmeric, Cinnamon and Ginger are all natural anti-inflammatories. 

8) Try to eat alkaline foods like almonds and watermelon and bananas. 


9) Stay hydrated – try beverages with electrolytes to avoid dehydration.


10) Bleach surfaces and silverware constantly. We tried to get a lot of throw away plates and cutlery : to make sure we got rid of the virus. 


11) Take baths in Epsom Salts – (we use Dr. Teal’s Bath Wash) supposedly magnesium helps drain the body of virus faster. I have found this information in my efforts researching my son with POTS and working diagnosis for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.

Covid-19 can definitely affect your hormones, as it did ours…. So do yourself a favor and maybe not join the Covid survivor groups just yet. These groups have many survivors but also many people posting about their several loved ones lost to Covid. Reading too much information made my already-high-anxiety SO high, that at times, I felt like I wasn’t able to breath. When this happened, I just dabbed some R.C. on my chest and that helped incredibly. Out of whack hormones, and anxiety levels can and may last for months after having Covid. We even know of a doctor who committed suicide from having hallucinations that lasted 6 months post positive for Covid.

HALLUCINATIONS, HIGH ANXIETY & DEPRESSION CAUSED BY COVID:

Do not think that children cannot get it, because they can. My children had fevers, lots of chest congestion and cough. They were white as the walls and we still have some lingering effects like our fingers and toes always being cold etc. My 10 year old, Nick who suffers with POTS and has a working diagnosis for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome suffered with hallucinations about 6 days into being positive for COVID. He was hearing footsteps that were not there, and people talking. That was quite scary.

Nick’s anxiety was worrying about death for the whole family, especially since my elderly parents living with us were also postive so it was a very scary experience. Nick also was worrying about things like: at 10 years old now, so he only has “90 years to go”. Now that we are heading towards 2 months post being positive, Nick and my high anxiety levels have started to dissipate somewhat.

COVID CAUSED MY 10 YEAR OLD TO HAVE LOOSE ADULT TEETH

While in the midst of being sick, Nick (10 year old son) had extremely painful canker sores on his gums inside his mouth. It made it hard to keep up with eating and drinking. 2 weeks post positive, Nick’s front adult tooth became loose – where we could see him wiggling it. When I called the dentist he was astonished, and since not knowing any other Covid patients at this point, he said to make sure that Nicky did not wiggle it. After a week, it hardened up, but then another adult tooth towards the back became loose.

Covid also accelerated up my parent’s pre-exisiting conditions. For my father it made his diabetes go to extremes while sick – at times it went as low as a reading of blood sugar level 41 at some points and in the 500’s at others. My Mom already had a lot of back and hip pain – Covid accerlated all of that and also sped up her teeth issues. Four of her teeth have completely rotted in that short amount of time.

COVID CAUSED JOINT PAIN IN MY CHILDREN

Nicky always suffers with joint pain from having a hyper mobility disorder, but my older son Mikey who is heading towards becoming a teenager suffered with joint pain for the first time in his life in the midst of the sickness. While we had fevers and felt awful the joints in Mikey’s feet became painful as well as his knee joints.

Two weeks being post-positive and a week of being fever-free, Mikey had a surprise fever creep back up. As well as pain in his legs and feet. His bloodwork was tested (He had antibodies in the bloodwork) and looked good for being inflammation free but he will need to have an EKG at his next checkup.

ALWAYS THANKFUL & GRATEFUL

While we are so thankful for surviving Covid-19 and not having more severity, we continue to pray for all the countless lives lost to this horrible disease. We pray we soon find cures, answers and a vaccine to help the children as well .