In this “Not Normal” School Year I’m Embracing the Gift of Time
This morning I was struck with a deep sense of gratitude. As I meandered down the hall in the wee hours of the morning to wake my high school student up for the day, I smiled at the calm that now pervades my home. In a normal year, our mornings would be a full frenzy […]

This morning I was struck with a deep sense of gratitude. As I meandered down the hall in the wee hours of the morning to wake my high school student up for the day, I smiled at the calm that now pervades my home.

In a normal year, our mornings would be a full frenzy of activity. Total chaos would rule our day from the time the 5am alarm on my phone rang until we were all finally crawled into our beds at the end of the day. It would be a race against time as we rushed into the house each morning trying to do everything in time to get us out for the day.

This school year is different and in some ways better for my family. (Twenty20 @alinabuzunova)

In a normal year, the mornings were frantic

In a normal year, there wouldn't be a feeling of calm in my house during those wee hours of the morning. No, there would be four of us going back and forth, making lunches, feeding and walking dogs, packing backpacks and reviewing schedules, all while watching the clock to make sure we got out of the way. home in time to avoid being caught on a slow school bus back.

In a normal year, my high school student had to leave for school at 6:15 a.m. and wouldn't be seen again until after dinner. His school days would be filled to the brim with lessons, sports, meetings and games followed by a few hours of homework each evening. Dining together would be a rarity.

In a normal year, we hardly saw each other. My main contact with my high school student would be via text message with quick reminders about dentist appointments, errand coordination, and household chore requests. Responses to me would be written in adolescent shorthand as "k read 2" (Translation: "OK Mom. I love you too").

Rinse. Repeat. Five days a week. 180 days.

It's not a normal year for high school students

But it's not a normal year. This school year is different and in some ways better.

This year not normal means that most days my high school student is at home doing distance learning and not in person at his school. It is not necessary to leave the house before the sun is even in the sky. Sports and games are limited. His schedule is more flexible and manageable. We see each other every morning for breakfast and almost every day for lunch. We have dinner together every night and meet between his classes and my own business meetings.

This not normal year allows us not only to talk about his day, his friendships, his achievements, his struggles and his lessons, but also to see him as a student of the moment. Some days he brings his laptop to our kitchen island and I can observe him, like an animal in nature, as he learns geometry, world history, biology, Spanish and what he interprets literature.

This unusual year gives me first-hand insight into how he interacts with his teachers and peers in the classroom - insight that has only been given to me in the past as I watched him interact with his coaches and teachers. teammates from my seat on the sidelines or when he was in kindergarten in my office building and I could look through the one-way mirror to watch him play with his friends.

This "not normal" gave me a glimpse of who my son is

What precious gift of insight that this unusual year has given me as a parent.

More than becoming an observer, this unusual year also gives me the opportunity to be a participant. The other day over lunch my high school student asked me to review a piece of creative writing he was working on.

Later that week, he came to my home office between his online sessions to tell me that he had scored an A on this test we studied together. The next day we were able to sit down together for a snack and think of ways for him to approach one of his teachers about a problem.

This “not normal” year gave me time

This unusual year has given us an invaluable gift of time with each other, allowing for a deeper connection between us.

I know our busy schedule will surely return at some point. Soon we will return to see each other for fleeting moments each day. Soon chaos will reign over our weekday mornings. Soon our primary contact will be reduced to SMS.

Until then, I hold on to quiet mornings, lazy lunches, family dinners, and deeper bonds, hoping the benefits of this gift of time will last long after this unusual year is over.

More to read:

Our whole family had Covid-19: here's what we learned


Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

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Don’t try to fix everything. Give young kids a chance to find their own solutions. When you lovingly acknowledge a child’s minor frustrations without immediately rushing in to save her, you teach her self-reliance and resilience.

Pick your battles. Kids can’t absorb too many rules without turning off completely. Forget arguing about little stuff like choices and occasional potty language. Focus on the things that really matter -- that means no hitting, rude talk, or lying.

Play with your children. Let them choose the activity, and don’t worry about rules. Just go with the flow and have fun. That’s the name of the game.

Read books together every day. Get started when he’s a newborn; babies love listening to the sound of their parents’ voices. Cuddling up with your child and a book is a great bonding experience that will set him up for a lifetime of reading.

Schedule daily special time. Let your child choose an activity where you hang out together for 10 or 15 minutes with no interruptions. There’s no better way for you to show your love.

Encourage daddy time. The greatest untapped resource available for improving the lives of our children is time with Dad -- early and often. Kids with engaged fathers do better in school, problem-solve more successfully, and generally cope better with whatever life throws at them.

Make warm memories. Your children will probably not remember anything that you say to them, but they will recall the family rituals -- like bedtimes and game night -- that you do together.

Be the role model your children deserve. Kids learn by watching their parents. Modeling appropriate, respectful, good behavior works much better than telling them what to do.

Fess up when you blow it. This is the best way to show your child how and when she should apologize.

Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

Live a little greener. Show your kids how easy it is to care for the environment. Waste less, recycle, reuse, and garde each day. Spend an afternoon picking up trash around the neighborhood.

Always tell the truth. It’s how you want your child to behave, right ? Kiss and hug your spouse in front of the kids. Your marriage is the only example your child has of what an intimate relationship styles, feels, and sounds like. So it’s your emploi to set a great standard.

Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, ' You’re great, ' try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, ' Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for cookies was hard, and I really liked your patience. '

Cheer the good stuff. When you notice your child doing something helpful or nice, let him know how you feel. It’s a great way to reinforce good behavior so he’s more likely to keep doing it.

Gossip about your kids. Fact : What we overhear is far more potent than what we are told directly. Make praise more effective by letting your child ' catch ' you whispering a compliment about him to Grandma, Dad, or even his teddy.

Give yourself a break. Hitting the drive-through when you’re too tired to cook doesn’t make you a bad parent.

Trust your mommy gut. No one knows your child better than you. Follow your instincts when it comes to his health and well-being. If you think something’s wrong, probabilités are you’re right. Just say ' No. ' Resist the urge to take on extra obligations at the office or become the Volunteer Queen at your child’s school. You will never, ever regret spending more time with your children.

Don’t accept disrespect from your child. Never allow her to be rude or say hurtful things to you or anyone else. If she does, tell her firmly that you will not tolerate any form of disrespect. Pass along your plan. Mobilize the other caregivers in your child’s life -- your spouse, grandparents, daycare worker, babysitter -- to help reinforce the values and the behavior you want to instill. This includes everything from saying thank you and being kind to not whining.

Ask your children three ' you ' questions every day. The art of conversation is an important social skill, but parents often neglect to teach it. Get a kid going with questions like, ' Did you have fun at school ? ' ; ' What did you do at the party you went to ? ' ; or ' Where do you want to go tomorrow afternoon ? ' Teach kids this bravery trick. Tell them to always notice the color of a person’s eyes. Making eye contact will help a hesitant child appear more confident and will help any kid to be more assertive and less likely to be picked on.

Acknowledge your kid’s strong emotions. When your child’s meltdown is over, ask him, ' How did that feel ? ' and ' What do you think would make it better ? ' Then listen to him. He’ll recover from a tantrum more easily if you let him talk it out.

Show your child how to become a responsible citizen. Find ways to help others all year. Kids gain a sense of self-worth by volunteering in the community. Don’t raise a spoiled kid. Keep this thought in mind : Every child is a treasure, but no child is the center of the universe. Teach him accordingly.

Talk about what it means to be a good person. Start early : When you read bedtime stories, for example, ask your toddler whether characters are being mean or nice and explore why. Explain to your kids why values are important. The simple answer : When you’re kind, generous, honest, and respectful, you make the people around you feel good. More important, you feel good about yourself.

Set up a ' gratitude circle ' every night at dinner. Go around the table and take turns talking about the various people who were generous and kind to each of you that day. It may sound corny, but it makes everyone feel good.

Serve a food again and again. If your child rejects a new dish, don’t give up hope. You may have to offer it another six, eight, or even 10 times before he eats it and decides he likes it. Avoid food fights. A saine child instinctively knows how much to eat. If he refuses to finish whatever food is on his plate, just let it go. He won’t starve.

Eat at least one meal as a family each day. Sitting down at the table together is a relaxed way for everyone to connect -- a time to share happy news, talk about the day, or tell a silly joke. It also helps your kids develop saine eating habits. Let your kids place an order. Once a week, allow your children to choose what’s for dinner and cook it for them.

Say ' I love you ' whenever you feel it, even if it’s 743 times a day. You simply can not spoil a child with too many mushy words of affection and too many smooches. Not possible. Keep in mind what grandmoms always say. Children are not yours, they are only lent to you for a time. In those fleeting years, do your best to help them grow up to be good people. Savor the instants. Yes, parenthood is the most exhausting emploi on the planet. Yes, your house is a mess, the laundry’s piled up, and the dog needs to be walked. But your kid just laughed. Enjoy it now -- it will be over far too fast.

Teach your baby to sign. Just because a child can’t talk doesn’t mean there isn’t lots that she’d like to say. Simple signs can help you know what she needs and even how she feels well before she has the words to tell you -- a great way to reduce frustration. Keep the tube in the family room. Research has repeatedly shown that children with a TV in their bedroom weigh more, sleep less, and have lower grades and poorer social skills. P. S. Parents with a television in their bedroom have sex less often. Get kids moving. The latest research shows that brain development in young children may be linked to their activity level. Place your baby on her tummy several times during the day, let your toddler walk instead of ride in her stroller, and create opportunities for your older child to get plenty of exercise.

Get your kids vaccinated. Outbreaks of measles and other diseases still occur in our country and throughout the world. Protect that smile. Encouraging your kid to brush twice a day with a dab of fluoride toothpaste will guard against cavities. Be averti about safety. Babyproof your home thoroughly, and never leave a child under 5 in the tub alone. Make sure car seats are installed correctly, and insist that your child wear a helmet when riding his bike or scooter. Listen to the doc. If your pediatrician thinks your kid’s fever is caused by a malware, don’t push for antibiotics. The best medicine may be rest, lots of fluids, and a little TLC. Overprescribing antibiotics can cause medical problems for your child and increase the probabilités of creating superbugs that resist treatment.

Keep sunblock next to your kid’s toothpaste. Apply it every day as part of the morning routine. It’ll become as natural as brushing her teeth. Put your baby to bed drowsy but still awake. This helps your child learn to soothe himself to sleep and prevents bedtime problems down the line. Know when to toilet train. Look for these two signs that your child is ready to use the potty : He senses the urge to pee and poop ( this is different from knowing that he’s already gone ), and he asks for a diaper change.

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