Parenting during coronavirus and school closures- week three recap

We just finished our third week of school closures and 2 1/2 weeks of Shelter in Place in California.  Once again I am gobsmacked by what has happened in the last week. When I blogged last week (, I wrote “we didn’t know a week ago what the next week would bring and it was true again this last week.  I know it will be true for next week too.” It was true again…unfortunately.   

Now 90% of the US, roughly 300,000 million people, are under state or city mandated Shelter in Place orders.  According to the website, at the time of writing this there have been 1,244,321 confirmed coronavirus cases in the world with 67,851 deaths.  In the US, there have been 322,995 confirmed cases and 9,149 deaths… 4,159 of those deaths have been in New York City alone where they have created makeshift tent hospitals in the middle of central park.  Unbelievable.  The Chinese are sending 1,000 ventilators to New York City to help them in this crisis.  It’s like a terrible science fiction horror movie.  

I read that we are now being asked to wear cloth masks in public.  A friend of a friend is donating 1 mask to healthcare workers for every one she sells so I bought them for everyone in our family.   The poor health care workers that are leaving their families to take care of other people’s families during this crisis and putting themselves in danger.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart. As if all of these people getting sick or dying wasn’t enough terrible news, people are also losing their jobs left and right and 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment last week.  Heartbreaking.  

In our family, we are trying our best to flatten the curve by staying at home and leaving only to walk the dog (a lot), do other exercise outdoors, go to the dog park occasionally in our neighborhood (we are being careful to socially distance from other people, not sitting on the benches or drink from the water fountain etc) and picking up take out as a special treat.  We only do take out from local places and only if they deliver to the car, I don’t have to sign anything and they’ll put it in the back seat of the minivan that I open from the front seat with a button. I wonder how long we’ll continue the dog park and take out pickups. My wife did go to the locally owned grocery store last week and we are trying not to go again for 2 weeks.  

We are trying to live our lives as normally as we can for the kids to have a safe and happy home environment with some structure and routines.  Some days are easier than others. My wife came to me on Tuesday of last week and said, “I think our homeschool needs to hire”. “Ok”, I said, “Who do we need to hire?”.  She said, “I think we need a reading specialist, a PE teacher and a tech support person”. This all came about because our 8-year-old, Ellie, started virtual school on Monday.  Her school and teachers are amazing but there was a big learning curve switching to virtual school for her so my wife decided that for us to continue to work at home with any success, we needed to hire help.  Her thinking was that we could be more both productive at work if we were not managing Ellie’s school work and thus be able to afford to pay the new employees. The applicant pool was small (our 10-year-old, Lucy, and our 13-year-old, Jackson).  The interviews were quick and easy as we were desperate for help so we hired Lucy as the reading specialist and Jackson as the PE teacher and tech support person.   

On the first day of employment, our reading specialist quit (or maybe it was a mutual termination of employment) as she was fighting with her student, which is generally thought not to be a good thing, and our PE teacher slept until noon.  Part of the tech support person’s job is to help Ellie log into new school Gmail and Google Classroom, figure out the daily assignments and which videos to watch , which Zoom meetings to attend etc) so we had to shift to a time that worked better for that employee (the afternoon).   After the first day when our reading specialist quit in frustration, the PE/tech support person was thankfully willing to take on another role as a reading specialist (with a pay raise, of course), which was lucky for us as we were out of applicants. The rest of the week went well with our one student, Ellie, and our one jack of all trades teacher, Jackson.  The ex-teacher, Lucy, gave up her salary to focus on her arts and crafts.  

Other than the big excitement around hirings and firings at our homeschool, here is what happened in our little bubble in the last week:  

  • I saw a great article about how we are all crisis schooling versus homeschooling.  Homeschooling involves a lot more planning, thought, willingness and patience than what most of us have right now.  Many of us are attempting to do a crisis job that trained professionals usually do (thank you teachers, again and again!).  Here’s the article from a former teacher and homeschool mom about crisis schooling:

  • The kids are learning to adjust to doing more chores, especially dishes.  They used to have to just do dinner dishes but now that we are all home for 3 meals a day, they also have to do lunch dishes.  Breakfast is more fluid as folks are waking up at different times so those usually get done by the grownups. Doing more dishes is causing lots of complaints and complicated schemes (“I’ll pay you a dollar if you’ll do my dishes today”, “if you do all of the dishes today, I’ll do all of the dishes tomorrow”, “if you unload, I’ll take a break now and you can call me when you’re done to wash and load” etc).  As my son wisely said, “I think dishes are not that hard if you just do them but it’s the complaining and fighting that make them last so long”. That’s pretty much a life lesson for anything. 
  • One of my work associates was hosting a webinar for one of my accounts and there ~55 people on the webinar.  At some point he said, “I know a lot of you are dealing with kids at home now and I am too. My younger daughter just handed me our two pet mice so now I’m holding them as I’m trying to do this webinar”.   I loved it and it made everyone realize that we are all just trying to get by right now and real life is still happening as we are trying to work. Just imagine trying to run a webinar holding two pet mice!
  • This week I really tried to get dressed in the morning at a normal time and not hang out in my pajamas all morning like I had been doing for the last two weeks.  I think I should get a gold star for my efforts.  
  • Routines have been very important.  Here are some of mine- making my bed, drinking coffee (although decaf), checking the mail, which is down the street, with my girls every day (we now know the mail comes between 11:30am-12pm), checking the humane mouse traps in the garage with the girls (can you believe this is now an exciting thing to do?), my daily bath, walking the dog what seems like 100 times a day and having 1 mocktail every night.  
  • I had decided to take a break from alcohol around the new year which I can’t decide if it was a curse or a blessing as a glass of red wine sounds great right now.   Although I don’t think I’d be able to just have one a day right now. Instead, I have 1 mocktail every evening. My mocktail is either a kombucha or Lori’s own creation of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and pomegranate juice over ice shaken in a Martini shaker and then poured into a wine glass with sparkling water.  It is so good and feels fancy. 
  • I had a Zoom call with my Mom’s side of the family (the Purcells).  We had about 20 windows open with about – ~35 people. It was completely chaotic and fun, just like my family.  There were 5 sets of folks calling in from NYC so we heard about life in NYC now and I was glad to hear that they and everyone else on the call was safe. 
  • Lori beat Lucy in chess.  Lucy rarely loses so it was a big deal (remember I said last week that I beat her 2 years ago when she was 8 and I still bask in the glory of that?).  Let’s just say there were tears and we had to put the kibosh on the other kids rubbing it in that “Mama beat Lucy in chess”. Lori may bask in that for the rest of her life.  
  • Ellie thinks she’s a dog (again).
  • At the beginning of week, we heard all public schools in our county would be closed until 5/1 but by the end of week we heard they were  out for the semester. It’s only the beginning of April and school was supposed to go until June 11th. OMG. Missing our schools and amazing teachers but glad we hired for our crisis homeschool.  The other two kids will be starting virtual school in a week so we’ll see how that impacts us when all 3 are doing virtual school and we are trying to work. My biggest fear is can our reading specialist/PE teacher/tech support person handle those three jobs while also being in school?  Did I say OMG yet? OMG.  
  • I just realized that none of our kids have been in a car for ~three weeks.  
  • Sadly, my workplace was impacted by the coronavirus outbreak this week and some of my co-workers, who many are also friends, were furloughed for 3 ½ months.  I still have a job but my salary and hours got cut 20%. Tough week on the job front and I’m feeling both lucky and guilty at the same time.  

I hope you all are surviving this and have family and friends to lean on during these tough times.  Let’s all do something nice and unexpected for someone in the next week to show that kindness and goodness are alive and well even in scary times. 

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