Normally, the Back to School routine is pretty basic:
1) Fail to get official school supply list so wing it with endless supply of pencils that they will never use, Lysol wipes and tissues. It’s 2020 and our kids use computers for everything, but somehow they always convince me that they need 75 pencils with inspirational sayings on them. I suspect they’re using them for shivs in their Fight Club? “You’ve got this” indeed, guys.
2) Lose battle on what constitutes “cute” back to school clothes and settle for anything that doesn’t say “sexy” across the ass of your elementary schooler. (I SEE YOU, JUSTICE. Also, have I already told the story about how another mom heard me yell, “I hate Justice!” in a store once and confronted me about it? I was talking about the store, lady; it’s freedom I hate. That last part was a joke. This is why I’m not making any new mom friends.)
3) Pretend to be sad that summer’s over and they won’t be home with you all day every day as you gleefully take first day of school photos, complete with a homemade poster you made at 11:53 the night before on the back of a Cinnamon Cheerios box which your husband thinks is okay because “they’re Cheerios” even though they have 16 g. of sugar in them.
4) Mutter, “They’re your problem now, suckas” under your breath as you drop them off at school.
But this year, everything’s changed. (Thanks, COVID!) Right now, Boston Public Schools have delayed the start date until late September. They’re also still deciding between a hybrid model and a fully remote model, but I’ve already decided to keep mine at home because I’m
a glutton for punishment concerned about their safety. So, given how much we totally nailed it in the spring #sarcasmfont, I put together this handy
Back to Homeschool Guide:
- Limit screen time: I recommend you practice staying firm about screen time limits now. I also recommend you practice saying “screen time limits” without laughing. Do it in front of a mirror. Ask yourself, would you listen to you?
- Create the ideal work space: Everyone needs their own space to do their work. This should include a computer, paper and pen, an endless supply of Post It notes, a water container WITH A LID especially if one member of your household has a 43% spill rate, headphones to block out others’ chewing/breathing/Hamilton-singing sounds, several pencil shivs, and ideally, a Screaming Pillow™ for each family member, into which they can emit their sounds of unending anguish on a regular basis.
- Stock up on food supplies: Plan on purchasing enough food supplies to feed an entire army over the course of a long war. Because your family is an army and the war you are fighting is the War Against Everything and spoiler alert: the good guys are losing. Also, learn to meal plan. And by meal plan, I mean be prepared to answer the question, “What’s for lunch?” at breakfast time, and “What’s for dinner?” at lunch time and “Can we have candy?” at all times. Know that all your answers will be disappointing.
- Set Boundaries:Let your kids know that you’re not at their beck and call 24/7 just because you’re physically in the same place. My kids know they’re not to bother me when I’m going to the bathroom, on a phone call, or on a Zoom meeting. And before you’re like, “that’s amazing!”, know that while they have that knowledge, they lack both the obedience and self-restraint to apply it, which is why if I have an open calendar for 7.5 hours and then a meeting at 4:30 pm, it’s right at 4:34 pm that someone will need to know whether they can have a piece of candy right now even though THERE IS ANOTHER QUALIFIED ADULT IN THE VERY ROOM WITH THEM THAT COULD ANSWER THAT QUESTION. Ask the guy that bought you Cinnamon Cheerios!
- Practice self–care: Self-care can take many different forms. It can mean meditating, taking a long walk, getting plenty of sleep, eating all your feelings in cheese form, or taking a nice hot bath. I’m sure these all have value, even if I’ve only tried one of them. #cheeseisselfcare
- Create a schedule: We have a blackboard on our fridge where we write the day’s schedule. They say laughter is the best medicine, and pretending you’ll actually stick to a schedule is something the whole family can have a laugh about. “An hour of screen-free time”, hahaha, good one, Mom.
- Lean on your village: Every day I thank God that I have the best village on earth. The kind of village that teaches my kids stop motion animation while I give myself pep talks in the bathroom about not using the pencil shivs on my little angels.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from our last go-around with homeschooling, it’s that you can’t go it alone. This applies to homeschooling and the pandemic in general.
- Grant the kids some leniency: This is a difficult time for all of us, and perhaps especially the kids. They’re used to their patient, professional teachers who know how to do new math and stuff, and their fun-loving friends who’ll play Gaga Ball with them at recess. Now, they’re stuck with a shrieking harpy who had to google “was Jefferson president?” after watching Hamilton and who’s overly competitive about sidewalk two-square.
- Grant yourself some leniency: This shit is hard! So you can’t unscramble TA3Z into a word that answers the riddle. Guess what? No one can! And yes, we triple checked that all the answers were correct. So you want to school an 8-year old in two-square? They need to learn that they don’t always win!
- Remember the point of all of this: And that is this: making sure your kids get an education. While you continue to effectively do your job. Which you usually do for 8 hours a day, away from them, with no interruptions from them. But now you’ll do it while also acting as their teacher, personal chef and court jester. In short, you’re going to need more cheese.