We are social-distancing and working from home… and in-person school is out for fall. This is the new normal. For many, distance learning in the spring did not prove to be successful. We were surprised by having to learn to work and participate in online coursework. We can, however, successfully plan for our new normal this fall with less stress.
I’m going to be honest with you. The first few weeks of distance learning are going to be an exercise in patience. It probably doesn’t surprise you, because you felt that reality every day during spring. It does get better, however, and it’s possible to create a plan for distance learning that works for everyone in the house, even you.
We can establish new routines and boundaries around work-life so we don’t feel pulled in a million directions. Not only that, but it’s also a signal to REALLY start valuing our time. When we don’t value our time, we feel like our days get hijacked, which in turn leads to frustration. Now that there is less separation between ourselves, work, and family, we need more boundaries around our time.
We do need to allow ourselves to feel the grief about this prolonged new normal. It is a huge change in our daily lives. As we process, we can start thinking about how the fall plan for distance learning options might work for us. One of the ways to stop overwhelm is to build a flexible, yet structured, idea of how things may work for us in September.
To give you some context, my daughter hates change, especially any kind of surprising change. I have taught her to always have a backup plan, then a backup-backup plan. This keeps her feeling more prepared for life’s surprises.
This is what I’m proposing for us about the start of school. Let’s create a plan for distance learning that allows us to flexibly shift, as needed. We can stop feeling overwhelmed with the thought of change and start embracing it as we trust ourselves to flexibly adapt to these new circumstances.
Here are some ways to consider planning:
- Create a space to work at home for each person. This is a dedicated space that may be as simple as the couch or dinner table, or as purposeful as an entire room.
- Rework the social contract. This is the agreement and expectations that everyone has in the house. We have one even if we don’t realize it. Asking everyone what is needed – and explaining what you need – helps set the tone for the year.
- Start thinking about what a daily routine might look like for school. It doesn’t have to exist down to the hour, but a simple daily flow prevents unplanned interruptions. The sooner you start practicing, the easier fall will be.
For working parents who need help with these plans for distance learning, the free proactive parent planner may be of help. It includes a social contract, pre-done signs for doors in the house to prevent interruptions, and even some resources to help keep the kids engaged. We can help kids stay socially connected in quarantine, as well, with some simple tools.
It’s been a challenging year, but we choose how we show up during it all. Some days are better than others, of course. One of the best ways to create a successful fall is through a little planning, adjustment along the way, and the belief that we can get our to-do list done even with the kids at home.