Welcome to Small Biz Mama Episode 3. This is the third episode in our series on things you can control. In this episode, we’re going to talk about parenting. If you haven’t listened to the first two episodes, I encourage you to go back and listen to the episode where we talk about life. I think that it’s incredibly important that we feel a sense of control over our lives before we can implement some of these other strategies. So if you have not listened to that episode yet, stop. You can come back to this one later – go listen to that one. Okay?
Your children’s schedule
Let’s talk about a couple of things that you can control as a parent. I know that this is really hard. You might feel like everything’s completely out of control as it comes to being a parent with your kids home, and with everything else going on. But here’s the thing… some of the advice that I give you here may seem a little bit radical.
I’m a big believer in education. I’m a college professor. I was on the Board of Education in my town for two years. I love all things education. I think that schools have had to rush to get something in place to teach children. In their haste, they didn’t really think about what it’s going to be like. If you’ve got two parents home, they’re working, and then you’ve got kids that are home, and we have limited devices, and we have limited Internet bandwidth. They didn’t really think about those things. So we’re going to put teachers on Zoom or Google Classroom or whatever we’re going to use, and we’re going to have them teach in front of children for seven hours a day. I know not all schools are doing that, but I know a lot of schools are putting undue pressure and stress on families because Mom and Dad are trying to work. They need to be on the computers, but the kids need to be on the computers, or they need to be on some device, or districts aren’t sending devices home, and the internet is stretched.
I’m really encouraging parents especially the longer this goes. I think initially we thought this was going to be two weeks, and now who knows? I would encourage you to reach out to your school districts and explain to them the reality of what is going on. I’m sure a lot of your teachers have children, and a lot of administrators have children, and I think we all need to stop for a second and say, is this really what we want education to look like?
I have a lot of friends who home school, and we’re actually planning to homeschool Erik. I know he’s only two, but we’re planning to do Montessori. We’re in a wonderful homeschooling course called Children of the Redwoods. It’s a phenomenal course, I’ll put the links in the show notes for this episode. But when you’re doing homeschooling, it’s only a few hours a day of actually sitting down at a desk, because a lot of homeschooling is about practical life things. It’s about going outside into nature. It’s about letting children explore what they’re interested in. And so to have kids sit in front of a screen for seven hours a day when we have told children how important it is for them to limit their screen time. (Right?! Isn’t that what we do?) I think it’s a little bit much.
I think there’s a way that we can use teachers’ time much better. Teachers I know are so stressed right now. I, unfortunately, think we’re going to lose a lot of really good teachers over this, due to burnout. I would encourage you to try to put a little bit more control over your children’s schedules, especially if you think that they’re spending too much time in front of the screen. Reach out to your schools to see if there is some sort of alternative. It’s a lot to expect from kids. I’m looking at these schedules – they don’t have their friends around them. They’re looking at a screen, and we want them in front of a screen for seven hours a day. It’s not helpful. It’s not healthy. So if you’re in a district like that, if you’re struggling with the technology that they want your kids to use, or you think it’s too much, ultimately you are the parent in this situation, and this is something that you can control. Don’t let the school districts bully you around. That might not be a popular opinion. I believe that children should be allowed to learn at their own pace, but I don’t know that having them sitting in front of a computer that long, especially little kids, is really good for them. So that’s one thing that you can control right now.
The emotions and vibe you push out into the world
The second thing that you can control is you can control the emotions and the vibe that you push out into your home. I understand that we’re all stressed out. I understand that you know many people are in difficult financial positions, but I think we also have to kind of check ourselves every once in a while, which is why I think that the first episode is so important.
Think about how we are behaving in front of our children. Essentially, what the purpose is, what is happening here…we are showing our children how to deal with stressful situations. We’re showing our children how to react when things go badly. If we freak out and if we lose our cool, then we’re teaching our children that this is how you deal with things.
Kids are very good at noticing what we’re doing. They’re very observant. And so we need to make sure that we’re being a good example to them right now. And I get it. It’s hard. In the last episode, we talked about how much this sucks. It does. But this is a really good opportunity for us to teach our kids what it looks like to be resilient and what it looks like to deal with trauma and with grief because I think there is a lot of grief here that we’re not really giving ourselves time to acknowledge. This is a really good learning opportunity for them.
I hope that you will take the time to think about what is the vibe in your house right now. Is everybody on eggshells? Is everybody pissed off? Is everybody just not doing great? How can we change that? How can we put joy into our lives? How can we create an environment that is good for our children to be in and good for us to be in?
One thing we’ve done, I’m struggling with this a little bit, but, I’m working a lot less than I normally do, especially during tax season. That’s so we all have time together as a family. We go outside a lot especially now. We were doing this when it was cold, but we’re doing it now that it’s started to warm up a little bit here in Connecticut. We’re spending time working with Erik, making sure that he is really getting what he needs through this. My mother was coming over and helping us a couple of days a week – she’s not doing that anymore out of an abundance of caution. It’s really hard. I think if we acknowledge that, but then say OK, what can we control the situation, then I think that makes it a lot easier. I think really thinking about the emotions that you’re putting out, that the vibe that you’re putting out, is super helpful because I think a lot of times we’re not very cognizant of that.
I do mindfulness meditation, and I just do it in short bursts, but it is really helpful. I’ll put a link in the show notes to the app that I use because they’re doing free meditations every day at three o’clock in the afternoon Eastern time.
What your children remember when this is all over
The last thing that you can control, and I love this perspective on this…
I saw a post on Facebook that was kind of circulating around. It was a kid, 10 years from now, saying to his parents, “We’re studying the pandemic in school, and it seemed like it was such a weird time.”
And the parents said, “Yeah, everything was closed and it was awful. It was terrible. People lost their jobs and people died. It was a terrible, terrible time. Don’t you remember it?”
And the son says “Well, I remember that we were home a lot. And we spent a lot of time together, and we ate dinners together, and it was probably some of the best memories I have of my childhood.”
You can control what your children remember when this is all over. That’s such a cool thing to think about. We’re doing that with Erik. We’re spending a ton of time with him and we’re thinking about how many hours a week we really want to work. How do we want our lives to look?
I understand that, for some people, when this is over and when we all go back to work (I know a lot of you are still working) but we go back to work and things reopen and things go back to normal.
I want you to think… Do you really want your life to be the way it was before this happened?
If the answer is no, then what are you going to do to make sure that that doesn’t happen? This is such an amazing time to learn new things, to develop new habits with your kids. If you weren’t used to eating dinner together, eat dinner together. I started baking bread again. I haven’t done that in probably 10 years and Erik and Jeff love it. They think it’s awesome. I’m doing lots of little things that I kind of forgot about. Erik is just so happy to have Jeff and I around. He misses his grandmother. but we’re calling her all the time, and we’re doing video calls. But, generally, he’s a really, really happy kid, and I’m not seeing signs of stress in him. Jeff and I are just trying to take this one day at a time, but he’s probably too young to remember anything from this.
I certainly want to make sure that he feels secure, that he feels safe, and that he feels happy. That’s something that has been really important to me through this whole process is to make sure that he would have positive memories of this time when he gets older.
So, especially with children, there’s not a tremendous amount that you can control. Because we’re talking about other people. Even though they’re our kids, but there are certain things that we can control.
We can control our kids’ schedules. We can push back a little bit on these school districts that are just over scheduling.
We can control the emotions and the vibe that we push out in our house.
And we can control what our Children remember when this is over.
I hope that you will take some time, especially if you’ve listened to all three of these episodes, to reframe right where you are. Think about you. Think about where you are, and think about where you want to be when this is all over. We’re in a critical time for a lot of us. We went through the shock and the grief. If you look at the seven stages of grief, you know that I’ve gotten through anger. I’ve gotten through that piece. But if you look at the stages of loss, because that’s really what we did. Many of us, we’ve lost our way of life. Now we’re starting to come out of it and go, “Okay. What do we do next? Where do we go now?” We’re going to be here for a while, and we can either continue slogging through and not being intentional about what we’re doing or we can take control of the situation the best that we can with the things that we can control and make a better path. Hopefully, when this is all over, we’ll have stronger families, we’ll have stronger businesses, and we’re stronger people when this is all done.
We’ve got a whole bunch of resources at SmallBizMama.com, including lots of links that I talked about in the last three episodes, to help you navigate this while we’re dealing with this pandemic. I think a lot of these tips that I’ve given in the last three episodes are not just good for this, but they’re good in general, right? And they will serve you well even after the pandemic is over.
So I’d love to know what you think. Go to SmallBizMama.com You can connect with us on social. You can contact us through the page. But I’d love to know what you think about this and how you’re faring. If you’re struggling, reach out. Reach out to us, reach out to a friend, reach out to your family.
You’re not alone here. Sometimes it feels like it, especially with us all social distancing and staying at home. But you’re really not alone. We have a group of moms, called the Small Biz Mama group. You can find it through SmallBizMama.com and they’re a great group of moms in there. If you need some support, I have you in the group. All right. Thank you so much.
Thank you for listening to Small Biz Mama with Kristin Ingram.
If you like to learn how to create more margin in your life, please visit us at SmallBizMama.com
Links mentioned in this episode