I got a question this week from a little girl named Addy age 11. She says “How do I deal with my mom being my teacher and my mom now? It gets really hard to have her do both.”
To Addy and all the kids out there wondering the very same thing, I say you’re not alone. Many kids are feeling the struggle right now, and guess what? So is your mom. Cut your mom just a little slack right now as she’s trying to navigate her role as teacher and mom. One thing you can think right now in that amazing brain of yours, is “I’m learning exactly what I need to learn right now.” This thought brings me and my kids peace. Think about it…right now, you’re learning how to deal with conflict, problem solving, sticking to a schedule, relationships (between you and mom right now, and siblings).
What if you took this opportunity to find the lesson in each thing you did on a daily basis? We call this the ‘school of life’. What if these skills you’re learning right now, are the ones that move you forward in whatever you choose to pursue later on? How could this be true? I want you to sit and think about that for 5 minutes, then get out a journal and do a 1 page handwriting assignment, the topic being “How can what I’m learning right now, apply to my life in the future.” You’ll find many reasons to see that it does.
Now, if you want a more structured routine like you had in school, you can be the one to do that for yourself. Think of the self discipline you’ll acquire as you wake up early all on your own, get dressed and clean your bedroom, exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, then get started on the school work your school teacher wants you to do right now? For my kids, it’s google classroom. What will you work on first? Math, history, science, reading, music? You are old enough to lead yourself in these activities and how cool is that? You’re practically an adult when you learn how to take responsibility for yourself and get things done!
I believe this is the perfect time for you to experience more self discipline, in fact you’ll never have an opportunity quite like this, where you can get creative to set up your own learning schedule. Think of all the things you love doing (art, ceramics, playing outside etc…), how can you add to that list?
When you step away from electronics and t.v time, your creativity blossoms. Maybe you want to be a writer, or do origami. Try out calligraphy or fun handwriting fonts. Maybe you really want to play a certain instrument, or be an actress. This is YOUR time to explore all the things life has to offer. Don’t waste this time dear Addy. This time is precious. This is the time for you to work on your relationship with your mom. Paint her a picture. Find out what kind of food she likes, and learn how to cook it. This transition with your mom playing the role of teacher and parent doesn’t have to be difficult at all. It could actually be fun. Open your brain up to that idea, and the time will be magical for you.
And now, a word to the parents…
This transition of playing two roles is challenging isn’t it? Understand that you don’t have to be perfect at this. There are no rules for how you should be as the parent and the teacher. You get to choose what works best for you, but here’s the first thing you should do…
Stop what you’re doing right now and thank your child’s teacher
This is also a challenging time for your child’s school teacher. They are having to learn how to do everything online. They love their job and they miss seeing the kids every single day. Take a moment to acknowledge what they do. Thank them for helping your child follow a routine to get things done. Now you know exactly how challenging this can be. But times that by 30 or more kids and throw in a couple challenging kids who are testing the teacher out. This is what they go through day to day.
We appreciate teachers so much more don’t we. Instead of reaching out to them because you need something or you’re not understanding something, why not reach out to them and thank them for all they do and have done for your child. Go so far as to send them a gift card to a restaurant. You’ll be supporting a local business, and making that teacher so happy.
Don’t beat yourself up for slack off days
You’re well aware that life gets in the way of creating the perfect daily routine. Some days, you just won’t feel like it, or other things will come up that you need to deal with. A child will get sick, or you’ll get sick. Messes will need to be cleaned up. Emails will have to be answered. And if you’re trying to work from home and do homeschool, there will definitely be slack days. Allow for them. Plan them even, and don’t feel guilty when they happen.
Yes I’m a huge advocate for monitoring screen time, but guess what? Thank goodness for those electronic devises some days, am I right? They really allow us as parents to get things done and keep the kids from fighting. I get it. Don’t let the slack off days happen every day or even every other day, but know that there might be a day or two during the week where this happens, and it’s okay. Did you know your child is always learning, even playing a video game? It might not always be good things, but they are learning.
Teachers go through major training to become teachers, including hours and hours of student teaching. This job practically landed on your lap overnight. You aren’t expected to do it like they do. Just do your best. I’ll show you how.
Discipline = Freedom
Do you want more freedom for yourself? Then you also need to practice self discipline. If I could teach you anything, it’s coming up with a plan and sticking to it consistently. This is what has actually brought me the most freedom in my life.
When you commit to creating a schedule and routine for yourself and your child to follow, it actually creates more freedom for you. I’ll show you in a second. When your child is expected to work on certain projects throughout the day and at certain times, your role as teacher is to help hold them accountable to that schedule. This won’t run smoothly for the first week or two, but your child needs to see some consistency in your behavior as the parent.
Once you put in the time, it really becomes lie a well oiled machine. Your child is doing their studies for a couple of hours while you’re working on whatever you’d like. It’s freedom! I’m not saying there won’t be interruptions, but those become less and less with your consistency as the parent/teacher. What’s the freedom you ask? Freedom from disorganized, scattered kids. Freedom from the whining. Freedom from the fighting. Freedom from the entitlement and poor behavior. Set your kids up for success by getting them on a schedule and holding them accountable to that schedule. Guess what? There will be less slack days during the week when you get on board with this tip.
Put yourself on a schedule too. Go to bed earlier, exercise in the morning, eat healthy foods, nurture yourself through a good book or bubble bath. You’ll have the freedom of mental health, physical health, energy, and increased joy in your life. Doesn’t that sound good? Just remember this one thing…discipline = freedom!
Find your child’s learning style
Is it necessary for them to sit at a desk or computer doing their school work for 4 hours a day? How does your child learn best? This is what you get to find out as the mom and teacher. You may have not been aware of this before. What a gift for you to truly see your child’s learning style so you can help them thrive not only right now, but as an adult. As you nurture their unique learning style, you’ll watch first hand their brain open up to creativity and ideas that could possibly change the world. Are they a hands on type of learner? Do they love exploring in nature? How about solving puzzles? Do they work well with others and in a group setting? Do they have a short attention span? Knowing all of this, you can tailor the curriculum to their strengths.
How can you make math more hands on? Think cooking. They need to measure out ingredients. Read food labels together. How many grams of sugar are in that one item? Divide that number by 4, and that’s how many teaspoons of sugar are in that product. Look at the serving size…is there more than 1? Times the number of teaspoons by the servings, and that’s how many teaspoons of sugar are in the entire product. Do this with maple syrup or jello. Do you have a can of mountain dew around? This could easily turn into a nutrition class. Math, nutrition, & cooking. You just taught 3 subjects in one class…BAM! It doesn’t need to be more complicated than this.
Every opportunity is a learning opportunity. Once you understand that, the pressure comes off. You’ll see it every time. Weather it’s working together to clean the house, cook a meal, set the table, or work through an argument or fight, the learning opportunity is there.
Reward. Reward. Reward.
Do you want the good behavior to keep happening? You need to reward it! Don’t miss an opportunity to praise your child for doing something kind. I’m walking around with monopoly money and handing it out for chores done, homework done, and kindness & respect. They can cash in that money for things they really want. In our case, it’s electronic time, Chick-Fil-A, a toy from Barnes and Noble, or even a movie night in mom and dad’s room with us. They love cuddling up on our bed and watching a show together.
Think about employee’s. What happens when the boss is demeaning and doesn’t acknowledge any of their hard work? It’s really wearing on the employee. Eventually they quit because it’s too demanding with little reward or praise. But what happens to the employee who is encouraged to keep going, even when they make mistakes. Praised for the work they are doing. They work harder right? This has been my experience anyways. I once had a boss when I was working at Bed Bath & Beyond, who was so critical and demeaning of everything I did, or anyone else. This gentleman was indeed exercising his authority over us. He put himself up on a pedestal and we all felt that energy.
I only lasted in that environment 2 months sadly. Partly because we ended up changing locations and I moved to a different Bed bath and beyond. I had a different supervisor. One who was an introvert and didn’t guide us at all. We never could take that guy seriously.
What kind of supervisor do you want to be? Lead by example. If you want your kids to behave kindly and get things done, you need to do the same. If stuff ‘aint getting done, you need to pull that child (employee) aside and tell them you think the world of them but expect them to do more. Explain to them how a team works, and when they aren’t pulling their weight, the team suffers. We need everyone on board for this to work. Tell them what the consequences will be and what the rewards will be for doing or not doing the work. You can talk to them in a calm, kind, collected way. If they get mad, you don’t have to. You just enforce the appropriate consequence.
Here is a list of rewards I like give out.
As far as consequences go, I don’t really have to dish any out. The consequence is they don’t earn enough money to do the things they really want to do. If they want privileges, they need to work for it. That’s how life works, and that’s the way I want to teach my kids.
Is this working out perfectly? No. Partly because my kids try to get away with anything they can. This is more work for me, and I know this coming into my day. If I’m not wearing my tool belt full of monopoly money, they might try to take some of it. If I don’t set timers on the electronic time, they’re not paying close attention, so the time extends and extends. The consistency on my part is key on the days I choose to be a stickler about the rules.
Some days I choose to nap and rest, and simply let go of the need for a schedule. I’m perfectly fine transitioning when I need to or when my body needs a rest. I’m happy to report however, I take really good care of myself to the point where I’m up early in the morning and have lots of energy throughout the day. It’s a blessing really. While there are times I work my business and see no monetary gain, my main pay is in energy and great health because I practice what I preach. If I look at it from that angle, it’s always a win!
The main point I want to get across to you parents is this…Don’t give up. Try your best. If some days your best is keeping them alive, great. Your best will get so much better when you’re truly taking care of yourself, and it all starts with a good nights sleep. Start there. When you get that down, add drinking more water to the routine. Once you’ve conquered that, start eating more vegetables. Eat a serving at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Gaining energy and balancing your brain can really be as simple as doing those three things. Once you’ve got those three things down, reward yourself with a monthly massage or some kind of self care splurge for showing yourself you can do hard things too!
We’ve got this. Choose to find the joy in teaching and being a mom. When you see your brain start to slip to negative thoughts about it all, bring it back to gratitude. Gratitude for this moment that you get to teach them things you always hope they’ll learn at school. Sharing, kindness, religion, responsibility, good clean language, breaking addictive behaviors, working together as a team. Do teachers try and teach these things at school? Absolutely, but because of the influence of other kids around, they also pick up foul language, inappropriate gestures, rudeness, bullying, and comparing themselves to others. What a gift to take them away from all of that right now, and give them a break. Your only job now is to find a routine that works well for both of you.
If you need some 1:1 coaching to help you heal a relationship with a child, or simply make it better, please schedule your 45 min session with me today. I love working with families for 6 months and coaching them on their relationships and health – they get the most success when we’re consistently on calls together weekly and semimonthly, but I also realize that some of you out there only want a session here and there. I’ll meet you wherever you’re at. Go to my website at www.healthcoachheather.com and schedule your sessions.
Have an amazing Easter Weekend my friends and may you find the true meaning for the Easter Celebration. He lives! And you truly will too as you intentionally blend and balance the role of parent & teacher.
If you have a child who would like to write me a question about anything challenging going on in their life, please send questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to feature their question around a blog post and podcast episode. Be sure to include their name, age, and city of residence along with the question.
This is also a special and exciting weekend because I’m launching a project I’ve been working diligently on for several weeks…The Coronavirus Diet. I’ve taken wisdom from top medical and holistic doctors to bring you not only supplements you should be taking right now, but the foods that will specifically boost your immunity at this time. And I gotta tell you, the recipes are delicious! Your kids will even enjoy them. I also include an exercise guide, meal prep day guide, shopping list, and bonus dessert recipes. Purchase the diet today