Can I Have a Hug?

For years (forever?) I have been the mom who doesn’t force her kids to dole out physical affection. This goes for hugs and kisses to me, Dad, grandparents, anyone. As a survivor of sexual assault, consent is a pretty big deal and plays into this, but overall this approach of asking first has been our way to teach the kids autonomy over their own bodies.

In our day-to-day this looks like me asking before I give them snuggles and such with the primary question being, “Do you give hugs (or kisses or snuggles) today?” and then gracefully accepting whatever they say in that moment. No pouting, no guilt trips if they say no, just check-ins to see if anyone is need of some physical love and doling it out when they do.

To be honest, as much as I personally need consent to involved, I don’t make the children ask me first before they hug me because let’s be real – I’m never saying ‘no’ to those little hugs and kisses, even when they are accompanied by dirty faces and sticky fingers (I just cringe a little on the extra messy ones because I know laundry may be involved). But apparently years of modeling this Ask First policy have paid off because I’ve noticed a trend lately where the Bigs do in fact ask before they come in for a squeeze and I love it.

Harrison especially has been asking lately and again – I’m never saying no because as my oldest who is off to middle school in the fall, I know these exchanges with him could be numbered/limited in the years to come. I mean, maybe not, but as he gets closer and closer to catching me in height (my bets are on him passing me by Christmas), I can’t help but recognize that things they are a changing and he is growing up quickly. There’s a lot to be proud of when it comes to him, but this back and forth of asking and respecting, this voicing of what he needs or perceives of me maybe needing is pretty cool to see.

So can you have a hug? Yes, you bet. Anytime.

Spring Board

In a lovely turn of events, Saturdays are now our quiet days, our days to do nothing (or everything depending on how you look at it) and will be for the next five weeks as tomorrow marks the start of Spring Sports in high gear for our fam. Miss Raegan’s already been at it for a few weeks with her running program, Girls on the Run, and the two biggest boys started with flag football practices this past week, but starting tomorrow our weeks will be full of all of that plus Sunday football games and then weekly practices for the new kid track program that Ben is helping coach here in town, and while we’re at it, why not throw in orchestra rehearsals for HD and Kinder Orientation for TJ, this week too, eh? Because, yep; all that is happening, too.

And this is why this sweatshirt has the best-ever job descriptor of what my life is like as a mama of five busy Littles because chaos coordination is exactly what I attempt to do all the live-long day, and especially now that we’re getting into high levels of activity again with this new season.

To be fair, I often find spring a little overwhelming for these very reasons – all the things happening at all the times takes a lot of organization and planning, not to mention remembering and executing. But this spring has that not-so-little extra bit of anxiety built into it because we’re coming into this level of activity after a year of basically going nowhere and doing nothing and the overwhelm is not just to our calendar but also our senses and energy levels, too.

The good part of this is that Ben and I have both been fortunate enough to receive our vaccinations for COVID-19 in the last month, at least the first dose. He actually had his second just yesterday and I will have mine this coming week, so once we get through two weeks after that, life going back to semi-normal will feel a bit more possible. But there’s still so much to process from everything that is happened in the last year that makes it hard to just dive back in to active, calendar-full life, on multiple levels, which brings me back to these quiet Saturdays.

I need them.

My kids need them.

My husband and my house need them.

We need some time to decompress and be away from all the going and doing because we haven’t quite figured out how to re-enter that again, which I think is OK. Actually, I’m not sure I ever want to go back fully to what life was like before, but with this many kids in our family, even keeping them limited on activities still means we have a ton going on and eventually I am going to have to find a way to navigate that that keeps us all happy and sane. In the case of this year, maintaining that meant saying “no” to soccer for the littlest two because we just needed to keep one day of the week to ourselves while we still could.

I’d like to think that we can still keep quiet days moving forward and we’re doing well to lay that foundation now. I have to believe that the spring board back to the world at large can still leave such space and grace for ourselves and our families. Time to take walks and think. Time to play games both inside and outside. Time to listen to music. Time to unwind and reset for all that is to come (because, again, even with just a little, it all quickly becomes a lot in this house).

Is it wishful thinking to hope we can keep this forever? Yes. I know that. But for this year in particular, this feels like the best strategy possible to keep ourselves in one piece while also putting some feelers back out there for what that semi-return actually looks like for us. I think coordinated chaos plus once-a-week quiet days are a pretty good way to start.

Church Away from Church

It’s been ten months since our church has gathered in person in our church building. In that time, the church leadership has been so careful, considerate, and cautious which has been greatly appreciated as we have monitored local COVID-19 numbers and trends. Thankfully the church has also been extremely creative in keeping us connected during this time which has been possible thanks to technology and those who know how to wield such tools well. There have been outdoor services (last summer and fall) in the park, drive-through-town processions while listening to Sunday service on the radio, remote Sunday School lessons recorded and shared on the church’s YouTube page, and, of course, the weekly LiveStream on Facebook.

Since this post is about church, I must be honest and admit that I also have some confessions to make. The first is, although I have listened to/watched many if not most weeks, I have not made my family do much of that. The kids have been pretty consistent with their Sunday School lessons at home, but that credit goes to their dad, not me. When we were doing eSchool to start the year and I was in charge of three kids zooming and such from home every day I absolutely could not entertain the idea of making them do videos on the weekend, too. Thankfully Ben wasn’t as daunted by that idea and he’s continued to keep them engaged with those this whole school year. It helps that he is an actual Sunday School teacher and has even recorded two of the lessons along with some of our Bigs as helpers.

But the LiveStreams? That has been a time for me while the rest of the family does their thing around the house. The one part they consistently catch is the very end when our pastors sing “We are the Church” and as a giant side note: oh my, how all of us love that song and hope very much that that little benediction stays as part of service even when we are someday back in the actual sanctuary on Sundays.

So yes, I’ve been a little selfish with my Sunday mornings because I want to actually hear the message and not be so distracted by wrestling kids at the same time like I would during actual in-person church. This leads me to my second at-home confession: I’m not very good at just sitting and watching the LiveStreams. I blame this in part on the fact that in our 5ish years of attending First Pres, we have always had a bunch of little Littles in tow so, no, church service has never been a calm or still experience for me. I’m holding, shushing, feeding, or taking someone (or multiple someones) to the bathroom all the live-long (Sun)day, so how would I know how to just sit and listen?

At home my inability to just sit has transformed into some productive sessions while I watch/listen to service. I have had my coffee, I have done dishes, I have prepped and cooked meals, I have folded a LOT of laundry, and I have started feeding the kids lunch which is why they so often catch the final prayers and song around 11:30. I even used service to wrap Christmas books in December! But even with all this activity, I am listening and probably hearing even more than I get to when we are there in person.

This morning’s sermon touched on turning away from disconnect and distraction and it struck some cords with me. While I suppose my house-holder duties done during church might look like some icky, distracted multitasking to some, I’ve been quite grateful to have these months of hymns, prayers, announcements, and sermons to keep me company while I do the necessary tasks of caring for my family (even if I don’t let them listen with me) in a prolonged time of stress and loneliness. It makes me feel more connected to my broader community to use my church time to lighten the load of a busy mother (who is, yes, often distracted); it’s like a layer of blessing is added on top of those chores that would otherwise just be, well, chores.

There was another takeaway message from today’s service that charged us with checking in with our church family and to pray for those we would normally sit by on Sundays. I mean, seriously – maybe there is a church out there that doesn’t do voluntary assigned seats, but I have yet to be part of one, and in our current life we are Balcony People all the way where there are lots of wiggly, noisy kids and their tired parents plus some very patient other adults. As chaotic and sweaty as all that is, I miss it. I miss getting time there with the friends, family, and church family who love on and help take care of my not-so-little crew as we navigate Sunday mornings together. And now, as I reflect back on my own Sunday morning routines during the pandemic, I am also curious to know what those same Balcony People (and those who sit down below) have been doing with their Sunday services at home. Perhaps I am not the only one doing two things at once?

All told, I can’t wait to be back in person, as I’m sure all of my church family agrees. Will I miss being able to fold laundry or clean the kitchen at the same time? No, not at all because those tasks are always going to be there. But if we’ve learned anything in the last year it’s that what is is not a given. When we can safely gather again in places and spaces with our people, it is going to be such a welcome gift, one I hope we carry with us in the years to come as we continue to move with love, service, justice, and humility in this world.

Here We Go Again

After months (and months) of asking Wilson if she was ready to start wearing her big girl undies and use the potty, she finally decided this week that now was the time and she was doing this.

Before I go any further, let me remind you: this is not the first time I have blogged about potty-training and also not the first time I have admitted that I know nothing about potty-training. Five kids in and I still don’t know how to do it in a sure-fire way. Perhaps that has something to do with each kid being their own person, eh?

All I know is that in the past, we always had the incentive of places to go and things to do in order to entice children to start using the bathroom at a certain age. If 2020 hadn’t happened the way it did, we would have started WA with preschool in Jan 2021 (i.e. now) and that would have been our motivator to get on and off the pot, so to speak. But 2020 did what it did and we don’t go anywhere now, so what was the point in forcing the issue besides the fact that that is one thing I do know about potty-training…until the kid is actually ready, force is not the way.

So she got undies last fall (trainer style) and then in her stocking for Christmas (regular style) and still she told me an empathic, “NO.” each time I asked if she wanted to wear them. That is, until two days ago on Wednesday, when apparently she decided that a new dawn for our country was as good a time as any to start a new chapter in her own story, too.

And honestly? She rocked it. She went the entire day in undies (minus nap) and had no issues. Same on Thursday, but even better because she shocked everyone in the house by fulfilling both *ahem* duties on the potty-seat before the day was done. I mean, I have never been more shocked/pleased to hear a kid yelling, “I pooooooooped!” from the bathroom (and yes, that is the Bat Signal in our house; classy, I know.). She totally earned that handful of M&Ms, I tell you (not a technique we’ve ever used before, but again, 5th Kid. What do you do?).

This morning? Same thing. Undies all the way. Getting herself to the bathroom time and time again (we had hot chocolate after playing out in the cold, snow-globe-falling snow), no problem. And then nap time came and all the independence came right back to bite me in the butt because Not-So-Baby Girl decided she was NOT going to wear a diaper for today’s nap because, because, well, who knows? She’s 3? She thinks she a pro already? She can actually do it?

I guess we’ll have to see if she really can/does because I wasn’t willing to have the knock down, drag out fight to get a diaper on her, so I made her use the bathroom and then we did our normal go-down-for-nap routine with her in not a diaper, so help me Sweet Baby Jesus.

Will this work? I highly doubt it. She’s still in a crib with tall sides and assuming that none of her siblings have taught her how to crawl out of it, she’s stuck there until I get her up and I am fully, fully counting on there being a mess when I do. But I’ll still have time before bed to get her sheets and whatnot washed, and no matter what happens, she will be in a “night-night diaper” because Mama and Daddy don’t play when it comes to messing with nighttime sleep. But for now? Sure. Fine. This is a gamble I’m (sort of) willing to take.

On the flip side, as terrifying as this all is, it’s also terribly exciting because if we can make this happen, we will finally (11.5 years later) be out of diapers in this house. Now that is a New Era also worthy of great celebration (and definitely more chocolate for all).

Update: she did not make it through the nap unscathed but the mess was not the mess I feared, so I will take it! She also gave me a sweet little apology and agreed that she would put a diaper on for nap the next time mama asked, so I think we came out of that little experiment just fine.

Third First Day of Third Grade

Moving and/or starting over in the midst of a school year is something our family has never experienced before, but this year, our kids have had a number of transitions surrounding First Days. For the Big 3, it was eSchool in August, followed by in-person school in October. For Truman it was a new preschool in October. And, unfortunately*, for RL, it is a new classroom for in-person school today. That means she’s started over three times in one year of school (and we’re only halfway through!); even though kids are resilient as all get-out, that’s an awful lot for a little person to process, especially for a little person who asks so little of others but always makes life easier for those around her.

*As to the use of the word “unfortunate”: this is nothing against the teacher RL is joining today. It’s actually the same teacher she had for eLearning which is why this is happening in the first place. The District isn’t offering eLearning to those without a doctor’s note to remain doing so, so her eTeacher needed to return to the in-person classroom and that just happens to be in our kids’ elementary building. So the good thing is, Raegan already knows her and how sweet she is. And of course we understand that the school had to do something in this situation, but trust me when I say, I did not expect our eSchool option to come back and bite us in the butt right before Christmas break like it did when we got this news.

The thought of making Raegan change classrooms again (for the third time in less than six months) was heartbreaking because she worked hard to establish herself and make connections in her in-person class during second quarter. And that was after staying home and quarantined far longer than most, so the social aspect of all this was very upsetting. There were a LOT of tears shed in the last two days before break as all this went down and we tried to figure out just what was happening, and I don’t just mean from her and her friends; I mean me on the phone with the school, too, because if nothing else, my job as a mom is to advocate for my kids whenever and however needed, even if I’m a sobbing mess while doing so. And even when I know it’s not going to change a darn thing.

I was worried break might be a pretty blue two weeks for RL, but she had a really nice time up until the last two days when school was looming and then the quietness/questions started coming. And then this morning, on the actual day of First Day, Take Three, her tummy and her heart hurt and we definitely had tears while trying to get kids ready and out the door.

I did everything I could think of to send her wrapped in love today, from painting her fingernails last night (rock star color for my Rock Star Raegan) to putting Sharpie hearts on her new mask so she’d know which side was face-side (and so I could give her some love each time she put her mask on today), and even some Stress Away essential oil dabbed behind her ears after she got dressed – anything I could do to help her remember that I’d be here at the end of the day to listen to and love on her because she is capable of handling this sucky situation, even if I wish she didn’t have to do so.

The good news is, the day was good (enough). She came home full of stories and (enough) smiles to put my mama heart at ease because I can see that her heart is as at ease (enough), too. (My WoTY is coming in really handy, I see, even with parenting!)

May this please, please be the last First Day she has to have this year!

This Christmas

Long time no write, friends. I’d say part of that is from sheer busyness, even when we still don’t go anywhere or do anything beyond the necessary, but also, it’s just been a strange end of fall/start of winter for me with a lot of emotional ups and downs, and as much as writing still helps me with that, I haven’t known what to say about it here. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the Internet can be a shitty place to share your heart and I’ve felt myself shying away from doing so these last couple months.

That said, we are now on Christmas Break and I’m trying to store some bits and pieces of this crazy year in recorded fashion because I know that like everything else, this too will pass and fade over time and documenting will one day help me remember just what this Christmas was like.

This is the Christmas of staying home even though (knock on wood) no one is sick. The last two Christmases have brought us botched plans thanks to germs, and I guess this one is no different except that we feel so fortunate not to have actual COVID botching them for us. Again, knock on allll the wood, please and thank you now that I’ve just written that. We will still see my parents over the holiday because they’ve been in our COVID Bubble for months now, but the rest of our holiday interactions will be via video call of one kind or another. We did three different versions of that just today, actually, with a FaceTime, a Skype, and a Family Zoom, all before noon! We did get to do an early Christmas with Ben’s folks last weekend, too; it was our first real gathering with them since July.

This is the Christmas of having five kids ranging in ages 3-11.5 which is still a pretty intense place to be in terms of navigating everyone’s big feels and needs and the fact that is is still really hard to find an activity that they can all do together without mass chaos or fighting happening. Ben and I love board games and much as we try, we keep looking forward to the day when we can actually do that as a whole family unit and have it go smoothly. We know with perseverance and practice, we’ll get there. Eventually.

This is the Christmas of still being able to convince all five kids to watch a PBS Christmas special together and oh how happy it made my heart. Harrison is a legit tween now but bless his big brotherness, he was totally on board to watch A Very Monkey Christmas, the Curious George Christmas “movie” yesterday with the rest of his sibs all piled together on the couch with popcorn and M&Ms while a not-so-little blizzard whirled around outside. Honestly, how many more years do we get of him doing that? I’ll cherish each one, however many he’s willing to give us.

This is the Christmas of cooking and baking a few things here and there but also being really grateful that my mom is here and helps as much as she does, including from her kitchen and our family’s love language of food. We’re also going to try one of Ben’s favorites of his mom’s, homemade Mounds candy, next week once we’ve worked through some of the other Christmas goodies and meals.

This is the Christmas of three nights (so far) of driving to look at Christmas lights, including the less-than-successful Christmas start night. It sounds like that was pretty cool for folks with a telescope but for us it was a bit too much wandering on dark country roads with five over-excited children in the van with us.

This is the Christmas of buying myself a present that I love because a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do, you know?

This is the Christmas of being so thankful for the technology that has seen us through this year and this holiday, that has kept family and friends close even when we couldn’t gather in person. I get so sick of the screens sometimes but also, without them? We would not be OK.

This is the Christmas of Thank Goodness This Year is Almost Over and the Christmas of May We Never Forget All We Learned This Year. It’s been an insane ride and that won’t just change when the calendar flips next week, but for now, for today, which happens to be Christmas Eve, may we all just pause for a second and see it for the gift that it is, no matter how different it looks and feels.

Christmas in the Bag

Let’s be real for a minute: it’s a crazy time in a crazy year in a crazy election cycle and I am currently convinced that most of us are feeling this at least to some extent. I know I am, which is why I needed a good distraction this last week and my blinders of choice were Christmas tasks while my blinders not of choice were multiple sick kids who share my roof sharing their germs with one another.

First up, the fun stuff of Christmas. The holidays are bound to look super different this year and as much as I’d rather gift my kids experiences, I think we’re going to be at home A LOT this winter, which means some new at home items are where it’s at instead. I already knew their Lego wishes, but then a friend told me last week that shipping times are being reported to be slow and wonky this December and apparently that was all I needed to hear to light a fire under my bum and get after it with getting their actual wish lists.

Thanks to FB friends suggesting ideas and an afternoon spent on Pinterest making my own curated “Toy Catalog” of ideas for the kids to browse, I managed to get them to all make their lists before Halloween (even with the first kid who got sick in the middle of last week). And that’s it. That’s all she wrote. I spent time making sure I did an even number of items/$ per kid, but now Christmas is done, including the Christmas cards because apparently I’m now a person who does all of these things in October. That’s fine. That’s a crazy I’ll accept.

The less fun side of all this is, of course, the germs.

It’s not abnormal for my kids to get back-to-school germs, but I was really hoping that this year with all the masks and handwashing, we’d be better off than in years past. But once one got an icky cold, it seemed inevitable that others in the house would too because my kids are generally still too young to stay the flip away from each other when sick, no matter how hard I try to keep them apart. I guess the bright side here is that we’re on Day Five of this and four of them have already gone sideways on me instead of dragging it out for weeks, which has been known to happen from time to time.

As for me, I’m just washing my hands like a crazy person and taking all the vitamins, supplements, and tea I can hold in hopes that I don’t get it, too.

I didn’t anticipate expending my pre-election jitters on germs and Christmas, but I guess there could be worse coping skills than this and it certainly has all given my brain something productive to do as we await whatever comes for our country in the coming days.

All the Feels

We called a Family Meeting tonight to share some big news with the Bigs (no, we are not pregnant) and y’all, it did not go like I thought it would.

You see, B and I made the decision a few weeks ago to send the kids back to in-person school for 2nd quarter (I would have been happy to send them then, but we committed to a full first quarter, so on we carried and will do so through next week until Q1 ends) and tonight we finally told them the plan. (Side note: in the weeks since we made this call, our local COVID numbers and stats have not been good and I hate that, but so far it seems that masks are making a world of difference and as long as the schools keep wearing them, hopefully everyone can indeed stay in school. There will be zero outside activities for us; just school, that’s it.).

I thought there would be whooping and hollering. Jumping up and down, even? But that was not the case, at all, actually. Instead there were stunned faces and questioning eyebrows.

Truman was the first to raise a question of concern, as he too gets to return to preschool, just not the PreK we’ve always attended. Instead he’ll be at a public PreK where they’ll be wearing masks, just like all the other classrooms in the district. He asked, with the precision clarity small kids wield so well, “What if I get scared?”

Thankfully I could tell him that I met with his new teacher yesterday and that she seems super nice and that he’ll also get to ride the bus to PreK each day AND eat lunch at school and basically I distracted him with the newness and shininess and bonus features and he seemed to be pretty cool with the plan pretty quickly.

The Middlest says he will miss his teacher and friends a lot, but is so far riding the announcement with the most even keel, which is great; the oldest two, however, have a lot of questions and a lot of feels about all of this which has led to me having a lot of feels tonight, too.

Like LT, they are sad to miss their eTeachers and classmates. But beyond that, they are questioning things like knowing what and how the day-to-day works with masks and spacing out and all that, and I think they are also feeling overwhelmed at the idea of finally getting to be with their people again after seven months without them.

I get that. I really do. The few social distanced times I’ve had with my friends in recent months have each left me with a hang out hang over because my brain is both so happy to see them and also sad as it processes how different life still is these days. But oh goodness, my heart feels for these babies of mine who are a little bit nervous about re-entry. I get that, too.

So we started making lists of questions and plans to FaceTime some friends to ask how things are working. We talked and hugged and cried, especially when they both said that they were going to miss me when they’re at school. I promised to make RL a bracelet she can wear to keep me close when she is away. Goodness, though, talk about tugging on a mama’s heartstrings!

This experience has been the hardest of my parenting life. And yet I’ve also been so grateful for this time with them, to talk to them about COVID and social justice and politics and a million other conversations that wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t home with me day in and day out. As much as I’m craving some peace and quiet around here, I’m going to miss them like crazy. I don’t know how I will think about anything but them in those first few days and weeks that they are back at it.

I am sure the questions will keep coming as will the tears and the excitement and everything in the middle for both them and for me. I’m so glad they had the opportunity to participate in eSchool and I’m also so happy for them to get back to an in-person classroom (and, let’s be real, I’m hoping and praying and crossing all my fingers and all my toes that it stays safe and able to remain open, especially after we’ve waited this long to get there).

So there ya have it, friends. Another day on the roller coaster otherwise known as parenting little Littles in 2020. It just never quite goes like we think it will, but we’re learning the entire time.

Mama Don’t Play

Y’all, it’s a Tuesday AND it is still (unfortunately) 2020, so am I surprised that today has been a bit of A Day? No, not really. But I don’t have enough eggs in the house to make Tuesday Bars, so writing instead it shall be!

We’re in week 85 of eLearning (I don’t really know how long it has been – 7 weeks, probably?) and even though the kids have adapted to it pretty well, I’m still so worn out by it all. The Zoom gremlins come at least once a day for someone in our house, and even though we’ve learned tricks to navigate tech problems (HD is quite the little tech support), it’s really frustrating to hear your name said as “MOOOOOMMMMMM!” 20x a day because someone needs something right this second and there’s a problem or a question or what about this and did the other person get into their Zoom OK and did the laundry get changed to the dryer and where are the snacks and did you drink any water yet today and are you still wearing PJs annnnnd, welcome to 3 minutes in my brain as an eLearning parent. Scattered to say the least!

So yeah. I get it. The Kids are tired of this. I’m tired of this. And, unfortunately, it seems folks in our state are tired of attempting to do the right thing because our numbers are in the top 7 or 8 in the country for rising cases (or at least 10 days ago they were because that’s how far behind most testing is in our area). It feels so hard to make decisions about moving forward with confidence because how do you know what might be OK in the future based on data that’s already outdated when you get it?

Needless to say, some things are strained around here such as patience and politeness, and even though we are just two days into this school week, I have had to tell my girlfriends in messages, “Mama Don’t Play That Way!” for major kid infractions twice this week as well. I won’t throw any particular children under the bus in this post but 1) don’t lie to me about having your schoolwork done and 2) don’t make 50 rude faces at me in response to being redirected and expect no consequences (and no, I’m not addressing the same child for each of those points).

Just one example of the 50 faces coming at me today. I mean, I get it. I really do. But no. NO.

Knock on wood, we’re through the worst of today when it comes to attitudes and I even get to sneak out for a mid-afternoon run here in a bit thanks to my mom, so that’s a sanity saver in and of itself. And speaking of “Mama don’t play,” I’ve taken the movement challenge up a notch and set out to complete 87 miles in 31 days in honor of RBG, after a friend sent me a link for a virtual event over the weekend. I’ve already done 11 and hope to knock out couple few more today. I still get pretty sore and hobble-y after the runs but it feels good to push myself and it is a good way to focus my energy and anxiety, so I’m glad to have that as a side task between now and the election.

You know, there’s often at least a bit of a “so what?” to my posts but today is a Tuesday and also *A* Tuesday, so I’m just going to let it be what it is by documenting it and moving on because that’s what life these days calls for, right?

See it. Acknowledge it. Release it.

Or just keep trying/running/swimming/breathing until you can do so.

Windows

As a teacher, I can’t imagine being live via the Internet, streaming into homes where not only students but also their family members could hear and see me. All the time.

The thought of that is exhausting.

Also taxing is being on the other side of that, in an at-home learning situation where your child is essentially opening a window to your house and life by being present in streaming classes.

And I have three who are doing this, so I don’t have just one portal into the private space of my home, but a whole trio of them that now makes the main floor of my house a very odd place to be during school Zoom times (which start and stop and overlap all throughout the morning and early afternoon).

This means that I have to be cognizant of what is not only on each work space in terms of school supplies, but also aware of what can be seen in the frame behind my children’s heads, including my own person and how I show up or not in the shot as I rotate from kid to kid to make sure they are doing OK and that all the technology is working OK.

As previously mentioned, this means I can’t do any of my own work during this time. Our perfectly fine internet just can’t handle that. Hell, I can’t even check certain apps on my phone during their live lessons, so once I get to a spot where they are all up and running with their online classes, I have approximately 2.25 spots in which I can sit and not be seen on someone’s screen and about 2.25 options for stuff I can work on that isn’t distracting to them and that I can put down at a moment’s notice when one of the three has a question, a break, or a tech problem.

Have I mentioned the word exhausting yet?

At the end of last week I thought we had hit a bit of a groove but today, the first morning back after a long weekend, and a Tuesday mind you, is our first rainy day in MONTHS which is glorious, but it also meant no before-school two-mile walk, which meant half of my children were quite Zoomy before their actual Zooms started today. And trust me, we did two Cosmic Kids yoga videos on YouTube to try to combat this, but oof. I love me some fall but probably not in the context of not being to go outside as easily with my already cooped up forever kids. Stupid 2020, taking my favorite season and turning it on its head.

As an introvert, there is nothing that I love more than being in my house (preferably with some time TO myself, but clearly that has also gone out the window this year). Living with eLearning challenges that because my house and family feel on display in a way unlike any other school year. On a side note of pride, there has been no swearing in front of a teacher yet (I try SO hard not to swear in front of my kids) but there have been toddler meltdowns and interference for sure, and the littlest two are hardly even here during live lessons! But for real – if you’ve wondered what this looks like on a patentable end, it is this: me hiding in a lawn chair or on the kitchen rug, set up in a “dead zone” where hopefully no one can see me but I am instantly accessible to any of the three who might need me.

Don’t all eLearning parents hide on the kitchen floor at some point in the day?

Thank goodness the live lessons don’t last all day, otherwise I would be a pile of mush on the floor by the end of each one. As it is, I’ll be over in my can’t-be-seen corner typing blog posts in the Notes on my phone and wondering why I didn’t think to design a spot for comfy seating into our kitchen. I mean, honestly, what was I thinking?