It’s mid-August, 2020. We just found out that my oldest, a rising second grader, will be in Cohort B in our public school’s hybrid learning model, which means he will be home distance learning Monday-Wednesday each week. Last spring was rough. Managing emergency distance learning with a first grader plus twin 3-year-olds was not the highlight of my year. I don’t imagine this spring was the highlight of anyone’s year.
I wasn’t for this whole hybrid learning thing. I wanted my kid back in school. I wanted to go back to work. I wanted my kids out of the house so I could work in peace. But that wasn’t in the cards.
I finally got on board with the hybrid thing, but what was making me anxious was one of the days he would be home. He would be home on the day I had scheduled calls with the majority of my clients.
I had already reduced my hours, modified my schedules, figured out how to do training and conference calls all week with three very energetic children running amuck in my house. The only way I could manage my schedule with the least amount of childcare needed was to only see clients on weekends and one crazy jam-packed day during the week. I took client calls non-stop from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with no breaks.
I barely had time to get up and stretch between calls. At 3:30, I would leave to get the twins from daycare a half-hour away and return home to do the whole evening routine thing. In August, I couldn’t see how I would get through Tuesdays with a work schedule like that while trying to help my second grader who simultaneously struggles with school.
I contacted the school principal to see if we could change cohorts. A no go. The twins would be in daycare that day, so I’d at least have that off my plate. If it didn’t work, I could always try and switch their daycare day or switch all of my clients. I decided to try Tuesdays with my crazy schedule while having my oldest schooling from home.
And a surprising thing happened. We were able to manage everything, just fine. We sat in the same room, our headsets on, taking our “calls.” We figured out how to usually eat our lunches around the same time. I had a client turn three and “graduate” from Birth to Three, so I had time in the afternoon for us to take a walk outside together. We chatted without any interruptions from his little sisters.
We talked about his dreams of opening a bakery someday, the new friends he’s made in school, how he feels about being back for in-person learning, and how excited he is for his birthday and Halloween.
I was calm; I could breathe and remember what things were like when he was the only one. Our limited time wasn’t spent with me managing three kids and their schedules, meals, safety, and engagement. We enjoyed our time together again, just us.
I opened up my crazy “millennium at a glance” serial-planner mind and tried something, with absolutely no idea what it would be like. I opened myself up to the possibility that it would be ok. And guess what? It was.
One week ago (and just three weeks into the school year), the district abruptly decided to go back to full in-person schooling. A dream for most parents, I’d imagine. Heck, it was what I wanted all along. It turns out that a day I initially dreaded became three Tuesdays with my oldest child that I will always remember, and three Tuesdays I’d love to get back and do again.
I’m going to miss those Tuesdays with my oldest kid. My thoughts and feelings about in-person learning aside, I’m going to have to figure out another way for my oldest child and I to get that “Tuesday” feeling without actually having a whole day together each week.
I’m not sure what that will be yet, but if we remained open before, I’m sure we can do the same thing for this next chapter, too. When we opened ourselves up to the possibility that distance learning would be ok, we realized something even more important and completely unexpected.