Congratulations America, you work from home!
And you homeschool!
As a person who has worked from home for most of her adult life, and who homeschooled two children, I have a couple of tips.
But first I have something to say to all the people in my life who, for some reason, continued to believe that because I didn't put on a suit and go out to a job, that I didn't really work.
HA ha ha ha ha!!! Are you gonna get some karma or what!?
Okay I got that out of my system.
All right, I'm going to give a quick tip and I'm going to try to do this everyday if I have the energy.
First one is this, make a big deal out of breakfast.
Elon Musk makes breakfast for his family every morning, usually pancakes. One of the first things I realized staying home is that we didn't need to rush to through breakfast anymore. Forget about that quick bowl of cereal and that slammed cup of coffee. Now you can relax and have a nice, big breakfast.
It's a hell of a lot easier to get your kids out of bed when they know there's going to be pancakes. Who are we kidding, it's a lot easier to get out of bed ourselves when we know there's going to be pancakes. Or omelettes. Or bacon and eggs.
And it's a great time to just sort of slowly get used to the day. Talk to your kids. Make a plan. Let everybody wake up nice and slow. A long, slow breakfast can really be a beautiful thing, and it's something that almost every family in America has been missing out on in this frantic world.
OK, more tommorow! Love you all!
Okay peeps here's the tip for day 2.
So you had your nice breakfast. Everyone's relaxed and, you've made a plan for the day. What I'm about to tell you to do next is the most important thing you could ever learn about staying home, whether its for work or school.
Every list of tips from about working from home is going to tell you to get up and get dressed, and every instinct in your body is going to be to stay in that bathrobe. I'll go into more about that tomorrow because there is a reaction to the stress of having to rush through getting dressed everyday. But believe me, you want to get dressed and you want to make sure your kids are dressed.
When you work at home, and that includes school work, you're constantly battling to create boundaries and structure. Being in your pajamas signals to your brain that it's time to relax, that it's time to go to bed. And that's a good thing! Use that. But that's why it's so important that right after breakfast everybody get ready for the day by putting on clothes, including shoes. Wash your face, brush your teeth, comb your hair, Etc. If you normally wear makeup put a little makeup on.
You don't have to wear stockings and pearls, in fact I would suggest you don't. But find a middle ground of something that makes you feel comfortable but also awake, and ready to go to work. Mark Zuckerberg wears the same thing everyday: a gray t-shirt, jeans, and pull on canvas shoes. If this kind of uniform works for you, by all means go for it.
And make sure your kids get dressed. Again they can wear something comfortable, but make sure it's something that they would wear outside. The only exception is the shoes. For me, shoes are really important. Without outdoor shoes, I don't feel dressed. But I think for a lot of kids it's fun to have indoor shoes.
My son was in a homeschooling network when he was a teenager and we allowed the kids to wear slippers during the day. It was hilarious to watch these teenage boys in their fuzzy bunny slippers, but it was a big deal for them to have that level of comfort.
And of course in these times many people are making a habit of outdoor and indoor shoes anyway.
Make this one rule and your life will be so much different. Save pajamas for days when you or your kids are not feeling well, sick days so to speak.
And maybe you want to make a special Sunday morning rule where you all stay in your robes until noon and eat brunch together. But how will that be special if you stay in your robe everyday?
Working from home requires discipline in so many ways. But this is the biggest way. I'm telling you.
Okay peeps it's day 3 and today I'm going to dive a little deep.
The name of this virus is the Coronavirus. Corona of course means Crown in Latin. And it means Crown in the same way as it does in English. In other words not just as the physical metal headpiece, but as the notion of sovereignty, and even as the sovereign him or her self, as in "The Crown".
So today I want to talk specifically about homeschooling, as a form of reclaiming one's sovereignty.
Most people who send their kids to school live lives of constant stress, just trying to keep up. On set we call the people who get the actors from one place to another "wranglers", and that's what parents have become.
We rush our kids out of bed, through breakfast, through getting dressed, then into the car and to school. Then we rush to work, try to get through our day, and then we rush to pick up the kids. We rush them into the car, rush them home, rush them through dinner, rush them through their homework, rush them through brushing their teeth, and then into bed. We wrangle our kids all day long and then we fall into bed exhausted, just to do it all over again tomorrow.
So we create rituals to make ourselves feel better. A cup of coffee at Starbucks. A glass of wine after dinner. Binging on Netflix, when we can, and then of course feeling guilty about it.
So a huge consumer complex builds up to provide us with everything we think we need. (More about that later.) Schools step into the void and take on the major work of raising our children. And we let them do it because we don't have the energy.
And the result is that our children lose respect for us, because we've lost respect for ourselves. Why should our children see us as authorities in their lives, when we are obviously not even authors of our own lives?
I think the answer to this is clear. It's time to take back the crown. If something good can come from this terrible situation we are experiencing, let it be this.
A lot of people didn't like my post from yesterday, in part because I suggested that children get dressed first thing in the morning. I was shocked by how many parents construe this as some sort of confrontation with their children, and one they can never win.
But there's a huge difference between saying to your children "get dressed, you have to go to school, we're going to be late" and "I'd like you to get dressed now, I think you will feel better and more energetic if you do".
Do you see the difference? I guarantee that your kids will.
You are the natural authority in your own home. You are the sovereign. Sovereigns don't act in their own narrow self-interest, they act for the best interest of all those under their care. When you take on that responsibility, your family will have respect for you and for your decisions.
As a homeschooler, the one question people always asked me was "how do you get your kids to do their school work"? It was a question that I never understood. I didn't have to "get"my kids to work. I just suggested what I believed they would enjoy and learn from, and they trusted me to know what was best for them. I mean, most of the time. But seriously, most of the time. Like 99%.
Because children also understand the notion of self-sovereignty. When you take the time to make decisions out of mutual respect, they will respect them.
I understand that some of you are working with school districts who are basically treating you like you work for them, insisting on specific lessons done at specific times. They make you feel that you have to keep following their rules, or you're not being a "responsible" parent. The way schools work is to keep students, and parents, feeling vulnerable and powerless. (More about THAT later also.)
But no matter where your kids go to school, or if they go to school, you must understand and own completely, that you are the king or queen of your home. What you say goes. You make the rules. And you determine the outcomes. The responsibility for your children begins and ends with you.
I guarantee you, because I love you all, that this is the way to a more successful, loving, and respectful life for you and your family.
Hey peeps, it's day 4. How are you all doing?
So when I left you, we had finished breakfast and gotten dressed. My next tip is this: get straight to work.
I know some people like to take a walk in the morning, or meditate, or do yoga, or watch the news. But it has been my experience that all of those things can be done later in the day. The first few hours of the day are, for most people, the time when they are the most energetic. Let's take advantage of that.
If your children are homeschooling, the next 2-3 hours are the time to get the majority of their "school" work done.
What, you ask? Two to three hours of school work a day? Is that enough?
Yes, it is. This is the secret to working at home while your children homeschool. They don't need to be working for 6 or 8 hours a day! Studies have proven that one hour of personalized instruction is equal to approximately 6 hours of classroom learning. If you do more than one hour of instruction in a day, you've done more than enough!
I know you've all seen those color coded schedules that are floating around, that go something like this:
9 a.m. math lesson
12:45 outdoor time and lunch
I completely understand the urge to try to structure every minute. Let's face it, home has been the place where, up until now, you and your family have relaxed and done nothing. It's really hard to fight that stream. It seems reassuring to try and fill up every minute and, of course, if your children go to school they're used to that.
I really want to assure you that this is not the way to go about homeschooling.
But first I'm going to have to talk a little bit about the history of school.
For thousands of years, all over the globe, education was undertaken in a very similar way. An adult who was well-educated taught one child, or a small number of children, directly and personally. Often times that person was the child or children's parent. If the family had means, they might hire a tutor or governess. And sometimes families would band together and hire a teacher for all the children in a community, and create a school. The one-room school houses across America were built on that model.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s there was a flood of immigrants into the United States. Most of these new Americans did not speak English and did not know American customs. Many of them were the uneducated poor of their own countries. In general, they settled in the cities, especially New York City, where the children of these immigrants needed an education that their parents couldn't give them.
New York was the first place to create "public" schools, free schools whose mission was to teach children to speak English, learn to read and write and basic math, and to understand the social customs of their new country. Since it was expected that these children would join their parents in the factory, the schools also had the task of teaching students how to follow rules, keep order and obey authority.
And because these schools were "free", the teachers weren't able to give individual instruction. Classes of 35 or 40 students were the norm, and a new style of education was developed.
Through the decades, public education spread throughout the country. At this same time Americans were becoming obsessed with the idea of modernism, including automation. In 1920 the New York State superintendent of schools introduced a model of Education based on the factory method. The stated goal was for every child, at any given grade level, to be studying exactly the same thing, at exactly the same time.
The point was to imitate a factory, where any part could be removed from, say, one car, and replaced into another car, completely interchangeably. The goal was to be able to pull, say, a math lesson from one school and be able to insert into another school, interchangeably. In order to achieve this level of "automation", every lesson needed to be simplified and broken down into small pieces. The effort of education was to try to put these pieces back together into a coherent whole, like the workers on a factory line built an automobile.
Schools began to craft standardized lesson plans, and simplified instruction into bite size modules. And to achieve their other goal of creating a workforce that would be compliant and docile, they created schedules, down to the minute, with bells that signaled the change from one activity to another. In part, this was designed not to let students get too involved in their own work, and to introduce the suggestion that their time was not their own.
And that's still the way schools work. There's only one small problem. It's about the worst way to teach or learn anything!
This is not a radical statement. Virtually every study for the last hundred years has shown that this is not the way the mind works. People learn by connecting ideas, in a holistic way. Children learn best when a new idea is presented by connecting it to another, already well-understood idea. This is how we build a base of understanding and from that base, new and creative ideas can spring. Knowledge builds on itself, and grows outward in all directions simultaneously.
Breaking ideas down into small pieces which must be mastered individually, makes it much more difficult for the brain to interpret and integrate them.
And forcing a mind that's in the middle of learning something to stop, and then switch to some new thought, creates issues with brain function that can impede learning for a lifetime.
We know this to be true, but we keep trying to force the factory model of education onto our kids. And then we wonder why they can't think for themselves.
So, why would you follow a system that is antiquated and ineffective?
Tomorrow we'll talk about a way to educate your kids that does work.
Okay day number 5.
I've been doing this long enough now that I've been getting plenty of positive feedback, and some feedback that's just positively nasty. But that's okay, it means I'm getting through. One thing about being a homeschooler who also works at home--you develop a thick skin.
Somebody recently acused me of being Super Mom, and let me tell you I was pretty excited! Nobody has ever called me Super Mom. Crazy Mom, yes. Out There Mom, very much so. What The Heck Is She Doing With Those Kids Mom, oh yeah. But super mom, ya no.
If I'm coming off as though I have it all together it's only because I have been doing this for 30 years. I've learned a few things by doing everything very wrong many, many times.
You know how I told you to get up and have breakfast? Well I learned that one the hard way, by spending all day drinking coffee and not eating, and then binging on a box of chocolate chip cookies at 3:30 in the afternoon. And then having blood sugar issues for the next two days and being useless. The great thing is, I did it way more than once.
You know how I told you to get dressed right away? Well I spent a couple of years basically in my pajamas. It got to the point where it was a little embarrassing, I mean to my children. Luckily I live in a beachy Southern California town, so it wasn't as bad as if I were in say, Manhattan. But still, after a certain amount of time you really can't get away with wearing your nightgown and slippers all day. Especially when you go shopping.
This all came to a head one day when my children and I were at Starbucks and we were approached by a homeless woman. I gave her a few dollars, and then I got a little verklempt. I said to my children "There but for the grace of God go I". They both looked at me for a long minute. Finally my son said "You think that's not you?" And then my daughter said "Yeah, you guys are wearing the same skirt" and by skirt she meant a half slip pulled on over a pair of ripped leggings. And the homeless woman was pulling it off much better than I was.
So you see, it takes a while to get accustomed to not having a boss to tell you what to do. And co-workers to tell you what to wear. And people at Starbucks to tell you what to eat. It's pretty terrifying to be in charge of your own existence.
I do a lot of Zoom meetings for my business and I'm watching this unfold in real-time. The first few days everyone was dressed as though they were at a live meeting. The women had on makeup and jewelry, the men were wearing jackets and ties. But now everyone comes on in tee shirts and sweat pants, slurping ramen noodles.
I understand for most of you this was not a choice. And for many of you this is temporary. If you were happy with your life as it was, this must seem heartbreakingly difficult.
I chose to live this way. I didn't intend to when I first started out, but I got pregnant with my daughter when I was quite young. When she got to the age where I needed to start thinking about working, I just didn't want to leave her with someone else. I tried working outside the home but I came back exhausted and impatient, and that was not the mother I wanted to be. So I figured out a way to spend my time at home with my daughter, and later my son, and still work. My choice to homeschool came later, but was in some ways so much easier because I was already living on my own terms. I have a very strong will, and I like to do things my own way. So I just decided to live my life my own way.
To many people, my choice was considered pretty insane, irrational, and even irresponsible. There were many times I didn't have a stable source of income. Because I was wearing so many hats, I didn't have time for things that other people take for granted. Like decorating my house, or getting my hair done. It was really important to me that I carve out little time to take care of myself, but it sure wasn't easy. In fact, for years at a time, it was impossible.
So believe me I understand if you're feeling like your life is out of control.
The crazy choice I made to swim against the current is now the stream we're all caught up in. This may go on for a short time, or it may be much longer than we now expect. Either way, the only way through it, is through it.
Starting tomorrow I will go back to some specific tips and hints. But for today, I just wanted to share my experience, strength, and hope with you. Believe me, whether you're loving this or you can't wait for it to be over, you can get through it. I'm here for you.
Day 6, and now we're going to get really heavy.
I began this a few days ago, to reach out and let people know that there are those of us who have been doing this 'at home' thing for many years. And that I, for one, was willing to pass on some of what I had learned over three decades about working from home, and specifically about working from home and homeschooling at the same time.
I continued with the posts, offering what I hope were uplifting and helpful tips and suggestions. And just sharing some information that I had learned, and that I hope others could also learn from.
At that time the kids in Los Angeles, and I think most around the country, had been out of school for a little less than a week. We all understood that to break the back of this coronavirus we needed to keep to our homes. I understood, theoretically, that we would all be home, maybe for months. And that somehow life, and schooling, would have to go on.
But I have to be honest, even just a few days ago this was an abstraction to me.
Then yesterday, my daughter got sick. She's a young mother with two small children, and in good health. No reason to believe that she won't get through this. But it led me to start to think about mortality, my own and others.
It's easy to focus on the fact that we're all locked inside with our children. We're trying to help them through this, and really just trying to get through it ourselves. We're trying to help each other.
But this isn't like any other time. This isn't like the last 30 years. This time there's a sword hanging over our heads. Many of us will get sick from this virus. And some of us will die. That's just a fact.
Like all of you, I have experienced loss. I miss my grandmother's Irish soda bread on Saint Patrick's Day. I miss my aunt's advice on the phone. I miss my brother's laugh.
But you know what else I miss? I miss my children crawling into bed with me. I miss taking them for walks. I miss the way they ran to the TV to watch their cartoons on Saturday morning. I miss their cries, and even their tantrums.
My children are gone. They're not dead, but they're not children anymore. Mortality is about so much more than life and death. It's about the passing of the days, and the way we use those days. A lifetime seems long, and it's easy to lull ourselves into believing we have all the time in the world. Situations like this put the lie to that belief.
I'm going to continue to do these posts. And I think the only way I will be able to continue to do them is to treat this
whole corona thing in the most abstract way. Please don't believe that I'm not feeling your pain about it.
Thank you, all of you, for your responses and your messages. I was overwhelmed, literally, so I know there's a lot of you I have not responded to. I will try to be there as a resource for your journey.
I hope that we can all keep motivating each other.
I seriously love you all.
Well this is sacred day 7 of my post series about homeschooling and working at home during this crisis.
I should be clear that this is my day 7. I have not posted every single day. I know for some of you this has been going on for upward of 20 days. And we are still in the early phase of this quarantine period.
I will get back to talking about homeschooling and working from home because that's really my area of expertise or, at least, my area of extensive experience. But in light of what happened during the last week, as I watched my daughter and then my granddaughter struggle with the disease, I felt the need to spend one post talking about how I feel about this virus. And I am going to get a little spiritual, so if that makes you nervous, maybe come back tomorrow and leave this one alone.
In my spiritual tradition a virus is considered a second level consciousness. (Consciousness is basically divided into animal, vegetable, and mineral). Everything has consciousness. I believe that when I pour cream into my coffee, the cream has conciousness, and the coffee beans have consciousness, and the water has consciousness, and the clay that makes the cup has consciousness. Everything is made from and by the great All One, and is experiencing itself as a part of that All One energy or spirit. It's kind of a fancy way of expressing what the nuns used to say in Catholic School, God is everywhere and everything.
So in my spiritual world the Corona virus is a conscious being. Of course it doesn't have the same consciousness as us. It's a second-level consciousness, like a plant. Viruses aren't exactly alive the same way we are. They can't move, and they don't reproduce the same way animals do. It's a more passive consciousness. They basically create a seed or spore that has to be carried either by the wind or a moving animal, and they need a host to live in.
Which is us. Without a human body to grow in, a virus cannot exist. Unlike a seed which can live virtually forever even if it doesn't find ground, a virus that has no host cannot survive.
So am I saying that we have to let this virus grow in us because it's conscious? Absolutely not! Part of our human consciousness involves protection of our Body/Mind/Spirit complex, otherwise known as the body. Our relationship with this virus has got to be clear from the beginning: You can't stay here in your present form.
As humans, our relationships with viruses is long and complicated. We exist with other viruses that have been around for thousands of years. Some are even beneficial to us. There's only been a few times since our civilization has begun that a virus has wreaked the kind of havoc that this one has.
I believe this crisis may be a turning point for all of humanity. We have grown so much in the past 10,000 years. As humans, we have rejected slavery, and torture, and inhumane treatment of other humans of animals. It's time for us to make another big leap in our Spiritual Development. And I believe this crisis may offer us an opportunity.
I think we need to respect the virus, understand it's desire to live and replicate itself, and also encourage it to mutate into something less dangerous to us.
You might think it's a crazy idea to respect the virus. I totally understand. I totally understand the idea of wanting to kill this thing. Eradicate it. Get rid of it. Make it be gone.
But the problem is that's just not possible. No matter how many times you wash your hands. No matter how much hand sanitizer you use. No matter how much you bleach the bathroom. No matter how much Lysol you use on the counter. You will never kill enough to make this virus disappear.
And I believe that to look at this as a fight, as a war, is a huge mistake. It puts us in a mindset that destroys our spirits and corrupts our souls. The hate- fight-kill response escalates quickly, and destructively. First we hate the virus for making us sick. Then we hate the weeds in our garden and need to kill them instead of just removing them. Then we hate the bugs, and fight them with pesticides that kill them. Then we fight the animals that stand in the way of our civilization and we kill them off. Then we hate the people who are trying to find a better life here, and we fight them off by terrorizing them...and their children.
And none of this makes us stronger. It weakens us to see the world as "us against them". It doesn't allow us to be the queens and kings of our own lives, because our spirits are wrapped up in fear. We waste our godlike energy trying to assuage our fear, and it never works, no matter how hard we try. It doesn't work because we can never defeat "them" because they are also made from the Light, and have a right to be here.
What strengthens us, as individuals and and as a culture, is finding a way to love and respect the other, while we also love and respect ourselves. This is a tall order, no doubt. It's a huge shift in mindset. And more importantly, it's a huge transition in our consciousness as humans.
The other night I was watching Frozen 2, a children's movie. One of the themes that is repeated throughout the film is that water has memory. And that all living things are sacred. These children of ours have come into a very dangerous world. In all our Millennia of civilization we've only had a handful of times of plague like this one.
But these children have also come into a world that is at a turning point spiritually, and they are the ones bringing us into a new future. I think it is more important than ever that we educate our children in a new way. This may all seem radical and strange to us, but to our children this will be the new normal.
Some of us will get sick. Some of us will die. But most of us will live, especially our children. We can use this time to teach them to hate and fear and fight. Or we can use it to show them that love and respect and Light always survives, always wins.
Please stay well. Tell the virus you love and respect it, but that it must find a form that allows it to survive without harming us. If you pray, ask God for help with this. Have your children pray with you. Let's show them that we walk our talk.
Regardless of how much you may fear this virus, I challenge you to turn that fear to love. Then we can truly look back at this and see how it worked for our good.