Dearest military spouse, we know you're overwhelmed right now. As if military life isn't complicated enough, now we're tackling more things.
Whether you were already homeschooling your kids or are now walking them through lessons online, you're probably thinking, "Get me out of this house!"
Staying home with kids who can't play with friends and who don't quite understand what's going on is HARD. Doing it with your spouse also at home doesn't always make it easier. (Or maybe that's just me.)
I'd like to send a special thank you to teachers who are sending email after email with things to do. Doodling with Mo Willems, watching the animals at the zoo, free apps for tablets and read-alouds of Harry Potter really do help.
But we're still overwhelmed. We are managing multiple Google classrooms, BrainPop accounts, Zoom calls and Google Hangouts, and trying to remember to tour the Smithsonian too.
What's a milspouse to do?!
Simply put, it's time to get organized. It's time to put all of our milspouse skills to work. Right. Now.
Just like the memes say, we have been training our entire adult lives for this moment. And, just like a deployment, we don't know exactly when it will end. So let's buckle down and get this done.
Foolproof Steps to Getting Organized
1. Make a list. There is no shortage of things out there to help keep kids entertained and add educational value. Make a list of all the ones you've seen that interest you or your children. Encourage your kids to help you make this list.
2. Cross things off. Now, take off all the things that aren't of interest to you or don't work with your time zone, electronic setup or financial situation. For example, the virtual ballet class thing is cool, but if no one in the house was interested in ballet before this, you can probably ditch it.
3. Prioritize the list. With a smaller list, you can really look at the things that interest your kids, are required by the school or that you want them to do. Maybe these are daily things, or perhaps they are one-time things. Put them in order of importance. Pro-parenting tip: Allow each kid to pick one thing that they "must" do.
4. Cross more things off. Take more things off the list. Sure, baking class initially sounded fun to your elementary school child, but they picked playing Minecraft with their friends as their top priority. Plus, you may not have the ingredients, and no one has time to haul kids to the store, so off it goes. Be ruthless here: You do not need to do 17 things a day.
5. Make a cheat sheet. You can get a little crafty with this part. Make yourself a final list, get out the colored pencils and ... Nope. Just make a simple list. Then make a bookmark folder on your computer to click easily. Or a "saved" list on Facebook. Or a Pinterest board. Or even a YouTube channel list. Whatever it takes for you to be able to point and click.
6. Drink more coffee. Now, you can relax. You have an arsenal of things to keep your kids entertained that are educational or at least fun. This means you can do things like work, shower, make dinner, FaceTime your friends and drink another cup of (dare we wish for it?) hot coffee. The final step is an important one; don't forget it.
Yup, it's that simple. Remember, you do not have to do everything available. Your kids need time to be kids, even without their friends. Spending a day on arts and crafts or video games is OK. Schooling on Saturday is OK. Playing outside in the rain in your bathing suits is OK.
We will weather this storm, just like we endure every other one the military throws at us. Sure, we're having virtual wine nights and FaceTime coffee dates instead of hanging with our buddies, but we still have our friends.
And on the other side of this, we'll have the best party ever, when our spouses go back to work and the kids go back to school.
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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.