Posted in Bartlett Academy

Month 1 Check-in: The Good, The Bad & The Fun

COVID Update: We are all still in some type of quarantine. Here in North Carolina we are now in phase 2.5 which was never an actual re-opening phase. There was phase 2 and there was phase 3 – but in effect our Governor can’t seem to make a decision so as a parent himself he’s defaulted to what he knows – counting without intention of ever getting to the final number prompting immediate action. Gatherings of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors is approved. Playgrounds are open (praise the Lord!). Gyms are re-opening at 30% capacity and retail stores can re-open at 50% capacity. Bars, movie theaters and indoor entertainment are still closed. Here in Mecklenburg county schools are still closed to in-person learning.

The question I get asked the most from my friends, professional colleagues, and my boss is “how am I doing?” I’m honestly doing great and can’t complain. Don’t get me wrong – I do complain – but compared to those furloughed or unemployed, struggling with remote learning in public school, or no technology – we’re doing great. I mostly struggle from time to time resenting leaders that don’t lead, the Amazon driver who gets to drive around all day with no kids to referee, parents of non-school-aged children, Sunset Shimmer who just lays around the house entitled to all the quiet time and food a dog could want – “normal” feelings anyone “stuck” inside their home with little people they created 24/7 with no escape route feels. It’s fine. I’m fine. I’m more tired than anything, but just think of how much stronger I’ll be mentally if I survive this year. Gosh the future me is even more amazing if you can even fathom the awesomeness that awaits.

Bartlett Academy Update: The Good
Our family unit is still talking to each other. That’s a huge plus given the number of posts on social of couples separating/divorcing during this season. Chris and Heidi Powell, Dave and Rachel Hollis, Jen Hatmaker and her husband. Of course, these listed examples are celebrities of sorts, but even similar announcements from my friends over the past few months is heartbreaking.
Communication is seemingly improving. Week 1 not wanting to sit down to focus on school work showed up as tantrums, crying, back talk. It was like they had a visceral need to fight the system. Now, in week 4, they can communicate without the sass and crying what they wanted to do and then we can reach a solution with very little yelling whereby they do what I asked the first time or they get nothing for the rest of the day. And by nothing – I mean things that are important to them; Xbox, iPad, YouTube, movies, candy. They’re also getting better about respecting mom’s work time and meetings. They understand that when mommy is in meetings they need to be quiet and find something constructive to do. Granted there was one unsupervised time slot when mom was presenting during a meeting and they quietly cut the dog’s hair with scissors, but it’s fine. There was no blood and the dog didn’t eat them alive. My point is that we’re learning boundaries and that sometimes the best way to communicate with mom how much you love her is to do what she asks.
I’m learning so much more about my kids. Having been watching them over the past month from sun-up to sundown and watching their progress with different schoolwork – I’m so impressed with them both. Madison really loves science and asking Alexa the answer to everything else. Cole loves problem solving like mazes and games of strategy. Of course, my observations inform how I communicate with them both differently and how I structure their work. For example, I’ve observed that my daughter is a know-it-all perfectionist. Admittedly, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. She hates erasing or having me tell her that an answer she came to is wrong. She also hates admitting she doesn’t know something prompting Terry or I to explain it to her. If you give her any guidance she immediately responds with “I knew that” or “I know – stop telling me.” I don’t know where this mentality of needing to be right all the time comes from, but I’ve already started the life coaching on the need for mentors, how being wrong isn’t bad, but an opportunity to try again, and being thankful that someone loved you enough to help you. Another example, my son is a free-spirited engineer. He wants to quite literally tear it all part and think strategically about how to put it back together or solve the puzzle most efficiently. I’m telling you – put a maze in front of this kid and it is solved immediately with no mistakes. On the other hand he only knows the numbers 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9 because a combination of those numbers is the passcode to the iPad. Take in the basic need to know information and discard the rest is his mentality. It’s really hard for me (maddening really) to understand his mindset but be the kind of person that errs on the side of needing to know it all and over communicate. If we can breakdown the barriers that naturally exist in the need to have power or prove ourselves to one another – think about how much we could each learn from each other.

Bartlett Academy Update: The Bad
It is all day every day. Yes, I totally accept that being a parent means that these children are 100% my responsibility. I also understand that teachers are not babysitters, but having my kids in school afforded me the ability to prioritize my day such that I could be present for each part of life. I could be present with my kids for breakfast and getting them to school. I could be present at work knowing my kids were cared for while at school. I could be present in the evenings for dinner and bed time routine, wrapping-up any loose ends from my day once everyone was in bed. Now it’s just a daily constant of laundry, making food, dishes, completing school assignments, overseeing science and art projects, working – seemingly being present for everyone every hour of every day, and being so worn out come the end of the day that loose ends are starting to fray never really to be tied in a nice pretty bow.
Little to no self-care. I guess this goes without saying given the prior paragraph, but I had grand plans for our daily schedule and getting a workout and self care in each day. I laugh now at the naivety of such an inclination. Tonight I actually snuck away to take a sit down tub bath and listen to a life coaching session I signed up for. (Yeah, I see the humor here.) I was just stepping out of the bath when my daughter walks in crying because she didn’t know where I was. Confused – I asked her why she was even looking for me because she had been playing with daddy and that just made it worse. She went on and on about how she really loves me and never wants me to leave. So much for not feeling guilty for trying taking care of myself.
Sunset Shimmer killed Preston. Yes – it happened and I have to tell you about it because it was bad. One Friday evening we went out to enjoy a nice family dinner. While we were out our dog broke through the guinea pig’s cage and while she didn’t eat him she definitely scared him to death. I’ve never heard sobs from my daughter like I heard that night and I hope that I never have to again. Madison was such a good mom to Preston and she didn’t want Sunset Shimmer to kill her. #obvi Madison even told the next person she saw that wasn’t part of our immediate family that she wasn’t even mad at her mommy for putting Preston where Sunset Shimmer could have killed him. So – there’s that. I heard forgiveness.

Bartlett Academy Update: The Fun
Science projects are amazing. We’ve made snow, crystals, slime and volcanoes this month. My kids love any excuse to make a parent-approved mess. Yes, I clean-up more, but what’s one more thing to do? Am I right?
Travel this month was fun. We ended week 2 of homeschool by traveling a few hours to visit 2 state parks and the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC. We had a lot of fun hiking, and learning about water and dinosaurs on that trip. Bonus: that Saturday and Sunday counted toward our days of homeschool this year. We love that homeschool can be done on our time and within the context of the life we live.
We laugh a lot. It’s borderline absurd. Oh my goodness, it’s raining outside – let’s go outside to play. I’m tired of adding and subtracting too – tickle fight! “1-2-3 find something fun to see” and we all run through the house looking for something we can show and tell. Snow in September? Why yes we have some snow powder and can make that happen. Pillow fights. Movie afternoons. Making popcorn with brownies crumbled in them for movie snacks. We try to break up what can be a very tense or boring time with laughter in any way one of us can think up.

That’s it. That pretty much sums up month 1 for us here at Bartlett Academy barring nothing significant happens in the next 3 days. While it’s not easy, after hearing from parents in public school and listening to the school board meetings, I’m still very happy with our decision to homeschool this year and thankful for the added time with my kiddos.