How to Reduce the Stress of Homeschooling on Everyone

I had a good run.

I spent the first month of shelter-in-place successfully balancing home and work priorities, carving out time to create videos and resources for parents and my Thriving School Psychologist community while homeschooling my young daughters.

I followed my own mantra that “connection is protection” and did my best to stay connected–to my family, to my students and families I serve, and my Thriving School Psychologist Members. My focus was on how to support my own kids and help school psychs in my course and community figure out ways to support all the kids they serve.

For a long time, I was secretly enjoying shelter in place!

I saw it as a gift of family time with my husband and young daughters. Plus I got to connect and collaborate with my members of The Thriving School Psychologist Collective, which really lights me up. I was full of creative energy. I started writing a new book. I even did yoga every day.

You guys, I was juggling homeschool and my new work life at home like a BOSS.

And then everyone in my household hit a wall on the same day.

The novelty of getting to use screens for distance learning in our screen-free house wore off. Little things were setting off my kids. My youngest, who is usually Li’l Miss Sunshine, suddenly hated word blending. My eldest, who is usually super persistent, was frustrated with her math and shut down.

Both my husband and I were both unsuccessfully jockeying for time to do our work remotely AND support our daughters’ distance learning.

Then I attended a Zoom memorial service and the grief floodgates opened up.

The grief of the loss of a friend, the loss of my mother a year ago, and then all the grief from all the cancellations—my daughter’s 6th birthday, my only nephew’s graduations, my trips to DC and St. Louis to present for school psychologists, my daughters’ first sleep away Girl Scout camp, and all my assessments with my students—finally caught up with me.

Oh, and then to top it off, later that day, I hit a car in the parking lot at the grocery store. Gahhhhhhhh.

And I spent the entire rest of the day in bed, feeling defeated.

Anyone else been there???

And then I asked myself, as I often do, “What would I tell a best friend to do if she were feeling how I was feeling?”

I would have told her to get some fresh air and take it easy on herself.

I would remind her that main job right now is to stay connected, and provide safety, belonging, and acceptance for her kids, which is secondary to teaching them about isosceles triangles and sound blending.

The next day, I went on a walk with my family in the hills behind my house and it was just what I needed.

Seeing my girls and dogs frolicking in the hills, Sound of Music style, was uplifting. Being in nature and seeing all butterflies and birds I’d never noticed before turned it all around.

At one point, my youngest said, “Mama, look at the grass, it’s dancing like waves, let’s stop and look at it!” And we did. For kind of a long time. And I thought about what I needed to do to reduce my stress and feel that mindfulness and gratitude that comes so naturally to a 6 year old.

I came home and wrote about it.

I wrote out three biggest pieces of advice for parents that I needed to remember for myself.

And I shared it with the amazing folks at the Greater Good Science Center. The result is this piece I wrote, for myself, for every parent who is struggling, for all the kids, families, teachers, and school psychologists grieving right now and trying to hold it all together.

I hope it provides you and the families you serve some comfort and some practical tools for making the most of this challenging time. Read the article here or click on the image below.

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Comments on How to Reduce the Stress of Homeschooling on Everyone

  1. Sue Stirling says:

    Hi
    Thank you for sharing your down days! So honest! I was thinking about how every person on the planet is struggling in different ways. Such a strange time. I like how you thought about what you would say to your best friend what to do! I find it amazing that when you step outside and look at nature it calms and relaxes everyone! My husband and I went for a walk and just breathing fresh air and looking at the beauty of our surroundings seems to instill some peace!!!
    Thank you!

  2. Amy says:

    Thanks! I am a bit of an optomist too and had a similar epiphany this week. I thought I had been handling things well and then I had some tough meetings and started to feel overwhelmed by what needed to get done at work and what was expected of me as a parent. I put my head on my desk and had a good cry. I reminded myself this is hard but that I can do and I needed to give myself some grace for the imperfections of how things were going to get done. I for one really appreciate you being honest and forthright. That’s so brave of you to do. When we do that for each other, we realize no one is perfect, and that we all have moments. So, thank you and here’s to a better day tomorrow 🙂

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