Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Three weeks.

Jasper County schools have been encouraged to stay closed until the first full week of April.  For us, that makes a massive reduction in our food budget (a good portion goes to the school to pay for school lunches).  For others, it's a cut in their income (assuming they're being allowed to work, and not laid off because their job has shut down).  For single, working parents, it's an utter nightmare. 

For most two parent's a massive hardship.  Because of the weird insistence that everyone must have a degree, and that everyone must carry debt, many families must have both parents working.  Some of these individuals have one or both of them encouraged to work remotely.  Not all of them.  And there are hardships involved with either option. 

Let's look at the families that are working from home for the time being.  Most of them are asked to do so during normal business hours...which happen to be when kids are most awake and active.  And bored shitless, because Mom and Dad are busy, and aren't available to make sure every waking hour is so full that they don't have time to slow down and just think.  And they pester.  Makes it awfully hard to work from home, when the kids are home with you.*  And that's assuming there's only one kid: more than one, and they can entertain themselves and each other, but that can really easily turn into fighting. 

These families may not be prepared to hunker down and actually have three meals a day, every day, at home, either.  Whether that preparation is a full enough larder, enough time to cook, or the prior planning to make sure they're not left standing in front of the fridge wondering what to cook.  And that's ignoring the distraction of the kids pestering them while they're trying to think.  More on this later--I have suggestions. 

First: think about what your family likes eating, and write down meals on sticky-notes.  Pop them up on a calendar, then move them down a couple of weeks after you've made them.  Get the kids involved in cooking and teach them as you go.  They're less bored, and less inclined to pester, and a lot of kids enjoy Mom or Dad teaching them to cook.  And meal planning--having a rough idea of what you're going to fix and when--removes a lot of stress.

Second: set up routines.  Kids are scared, too, and often have a hard time actually recognizing and articulating it.  Routines help them by reminding them that things aren't completely broken. Routines help kids behave better. 

Third: set boundaries.  And enforce them.  Give them fifteen minutes--a set fifteen minutes--every hour where they can pester you during work hours, but put them in time out for pestering you for something that isn't an emergency (the cat puking isn't an emergency; the toilet puking is) while you're working instead of taking a short break.  And DON'T let them pester you while you're on a bathroom break, if they're older than kindergarten age. 

No, these solutions won't work for everyone, but it's a place to start while families figure out what works for them. 

Then there's the "essential personnel" who are still working outside the home: which of them stays home with the sprogs?  How do they choose?  And yes, it will more than likely come to that because daycares are closed, too, and many live way too far away from the grandparents to be able to rely on that help.**

It's hard enough for people who work outside the home to plan for a full week of Spring Break.  What are they supposed to do for three (or more), especially with their usual go-to solutions are shut down, too?  Maybe, with some of the different companies, there can be some flexibility with shifts.

The solution's not so simple for these families.  Nor is it simple for the families who've been laid off and don't have money coming in anymore. 

If you've got people in your neighborhood with kids, and if the parents aren't appearing to be working outside the home, check on them.  If they're not working at all, help them a bit.  Maybe raid your pantries to help them stretch their own. 

It is, after all, what I'm planning to do, if I see a need. 

*Speaking from experience, here.  I've got two, and I can't do much actual brain work while either the pixie or both of them are home.  The imp's a lot easier, because he does like to go in his room and play quietly by himself, or play on his Kindle, or read, or watch TV.  He's learned that if he pesters me, he gets assigned chores to keep him busy.  The pixie, on the other hand is very social, and likes chores.  

**And that's ignoring the fact that the current viral plague we're trying to head off is more likely to harm the grandparents than the kids or the parents, and should NOT be encouraged to babysit. 


  1. This is not a good time for anyone on the planet. Better for some right now (but not good) and worse for others and fatal for some. As a plus it's just getting started here in the US.
    Helping the neighbors is a good thing.

    1. No, it's not a good time. I mean, my kids are happy, and the dog's glad to have them around more, but my sanity is going to suffer, and other people will suffer more.


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