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  • Susie Csorsz Brown

Life raft

'Look for the helpers... because then you know that there is hope.' ~ Fred Rogers

I have nothing new and amazing to share here, just my thoughts on the current situation. Perhaps some useful thoughts, perhaps not. Most important and interesting may very well be the link at the bottom for the free concerts online, online tours of amazing museums, or the homemade playdough recipe.

Unlike many of you, we just started our home/e-learning stint. Luckily, my husband and I have very flexible hours at work (or at least I do, he pretty much just works all of the time), so we can figure out what will work best (both of us on the same rotation, opposite rotations, etc), and also luckily, there are no documented cases of COVID-19 in our country right now. All of those silver linings aside, I am well aware that the next few weeks are going to be stress- and sibling-rivalry filled.

The unknowns are scary

The numbers we are hearing seemingly change from minute to minute and we don't know if the virus is right next door or in the next city. We don't know if we should be bleach-wiping everything that will stand still or if we are over reacting. We don't know who is currently infected, who will be left standing, who will infect their neighbor. We don't know if flights will continue, if grocery stores will stay stocked, or if hand sanitizer will be available tomorrow. We don't know. And, it's okay to say we don't know. This is not the time to pretend that you do. We don't know if this will be over next week, in August or after December. We don't know. And we all don't know together. So take comfort in that: even the experts don't know. Don't let not knowing stress you out or make you angry. Here's what we do know: infection with the virus is completely in your control. Control your space. Stay home. Wash your hands. Don't touch your face. Get enough rest to make sure your body (and mind!) are ready for the next day's onslaught.

The knowns are scary

If you can, try not to go down any rabbit holes searching for even more information about COVID-19. Find one source of reliable information, and don’t worry about what the Republicans are doing or the Democrats are saying. It doesn’t matter what the EU is doing, or if China decreed something. Focus on the information that is relevant to you and yours. There is so much you can’t control right now, and reading more and more about it is only going to make you feel more and more stressed.

‘Don’t fight with your brother’ is not constructive advice

Who's home learning out there? I am 100% certain the numbers that are NOT are tiny. How many of us are now in the position of adding 'home teacher' to the multitude of hats we are already wearing? It is not a comfortable fit, for sure. This much I know: taking the kids out of school is probably better to contain the spread of the virus, but it is NOT better for peace of mind at home. My boys are awesome and amazing and they are also going to be at the other's throats when they have to share the trickle of internet we have at home during the daytime to download assignments and reach out to teachers (And, of course, to take that YouTube break). How are we going to manage, especially when we add mom and dad teleworking to the mix? Prioritizing and shifts. Negotiation skills. Communication with non-accusatory and non-inflammatory language. And, likely, reprioritizing my stand on screen time will help significantly.

It is FREAKING hard to motivate yourself to correspondence learn in any situation but ESPECIALLY if you are a tween/teen

Friends, we are adults, we are fully aware of what consequences might come if we do not complete an assignment, we are able to control our behaviors and stay on task and yet we still manage to procrastinate doing our work. Imagine trying to stay on task and complete homework assignments (that often seem unrelated and groundless to begin with), with some arbitrary e-classroom ... impossible. This is not a learning situation that is setting up our kids for success, as much as we would like to believe it is. It is, however, the best option. Help your kids make the most of it. It helps them, too, to know that they are not the only ones struggling with it. Teachers don't like it, either, if that makes any difference.

A couple things that might help:

-setting up a learning routine and organized learning area that will be relatively quiet and distraction-free;

-staying positive and knowing that frustrations will arise, but will only be temporary;

-getting study buddies, if possible;

-taking study breaks that include movement to help stay energized and focus. This is the perfect time for a quick basketball match, a dance party or a brisk walk around the block.

Spread a different kind of thing: kindness to your neighbor

Look out for one another. Your neighbor needs that proverbial cup of sugar? Give it to them. Help out with kid care or drop off mail. Grab some extra groceries. As much as you can, keep your community strong and well. Looking out for one another starts from keeping our distances and covering our coughs to buying an extra pack of toilet paper and dropping it at your neighbor’s and doubling the banana bread ingredients to give one loaf to your friend. You are not an island. We are in this together.

Remember the airplane mask

Take care of you. If you don’t put the mask on yourself, you will not be able to continue to take care of your family. Your family, your loved ones, your friends will absolutely give you a minute to take care of yourself, because they know that if they don’t, they will have to do all you do AND be without you.

And don't forget: it isn't all about work. It isn't all about COVID-19. Try and think of a few positive things every day. “Things were always this bad. But things were also always this good.”

Stay healthy and well, my friends.

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