COVID19 Parenting Work

Day 31: Meetings & School

April 15, 2020

I have 5 hours of meetings on my calendar today. I know this is typical in some knowledge work fields but it is definitely NOT normal for me!

Luckily I do not have telemed outpatients today; I just have to (virtual) round on the inpatients and any new consults. So, I will just have to brace myself for a lot of sitting. Or pacing maybe. I never understood the concept of a treadmill desk . . . until now.

Kids School-At-Home Update:

I haven’t mentioned this in a while, which is probably because it’s been going a bit more smoothly.

Annabel is largely in charge of her own 2nd grade work. She attends a class meeting (they use Microsoft Teams rather than Zoom) where the teachers provide a bit of teaching, and an overview of the day’s work. Then she uses the school’s online learning dashboard to complete it.

(Programs her grade uses – ThinkCentral, iReady, Reflex Math, Nearpod, Discovery Education. They are also reading some books together as a class.)

Honestly, her teachers (there are 2, class of 40 kids) are amazing and have adapted very well. They motivate her and there (SO FAR) just hasn’t been too much friction.

Cameron on the other hand . . . well, his personality is different. He has a LOT of trouble sitting still while trying to do his work (literally will jerk around and fall off of his chair every 3 minutes and — when I’m there — sometimes he throws himself on me to give an impromptu hug which is sweet but does not help get his work done).

His teacher is assigning a lot, considering it’s kindergarten . . . and he requires fairly constant supervision to get it done. If I’m seeing patents or otherwise occupied with work, I am not involved so that falls to our nanny. Which means G spends some time playing with toys AND some time in front of the screen.

His work usually includes a mix of: Think Central, Math on the Spot, Lalilo, EPIC, and Nearpod, with iReady for “homework” (isn’t it all HW now!?).

I feel terrible for families with multiples kids WITHOUT childcare because it would be largely impossible for him to do what is assigned. And while I am not tooooo worried about him falling behind, I don’t want to give him the message that school assignments are optional.

As one might imagine, our family calendar board is not very exciting right now:

since filling this out, our peak got moved back to May again. #($*&@#!

Okay. Off to completely my checklist (meditate, work out). My rigid routines are really saving my sanity right now!


  • Reply Chelsea April 15, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Question that I just thought of: You are a lefty – my 5-year-old who will start K next year is also a lefty (neither DH or I are) – and he needs to be able to use a mouse with his right hand to start K. Have you developed any strategies for using the mouse right handed other than lots of practice? He’s finding it very frustrating.

    Yeah… with two working parents and no childcare, we are struggling a lot with being “fair” to kids both in terms of attention and academically. Our oldest has *always* been more challenging and gotten an outsize amount of (typically negative) attention, but since he’s the only one who is school aged (the other two are 2 and in preK), he gets more attention because he *has* to get his school work done each day. He’s in 1st grade an is semi able to work on his own (especially now, 4 weeks in), but still needs a fair amount of supervision. Each day we have him do the minimum we can get away with and he must do it before anyone gets any screens.

    The challenge is actually more with the middle one, who is already very ready for kindergarten (at least compared to the oldest). All of his class activities are like “make this complicated art project” which is never going to happen. Fortunately he’s willing to do work book type activities (and his brother’s iReady math because he’s on “putting teen numbers in order” – Scott did you do a single iReady math up to this point in class??? – to practice using the mouse). But he’s acting out a lot because – as the “easy” one – he gets pushed to the side a lot.

    I’m not sure what we are doing with the 2-year-old. He’s decent at entertaining himself (with a healthy dose of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). Sometimes he tries to climb all over the one doing work, which is super annoying.

    Fortunately DH and I have been able to set our schedule so that we have had a minimum amount of overlap between teaching and meetings. If we do have overlap, the one who has the item that requires the least amount of concentration, (for example, I have individual meetings with students all Friday afternoon, and students don’t mind if a kid pops up or I have to pause for a minute to “manage” them). I work early in the mornings and DH stays up late at night and we take turns working both Saturday and Sunday, which would be frustrating under normal circumstances, but right now there’s a certain attitude of “Well, what else are we going to do?”.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 15, 2020 at 9:43 am

      I grew up using a right-handed mouse and can’t imagine using my left hand to use the mouse 🙂 So it might not be as problematic as you’re imagining!

      I tend to hold my phone with my left hand and type/swipe with my right, too, even though I am 100% left handed when it comes to writing, eating, etc!!

      • Reply Jill April 15, 2020 at 1:55 pm

        I’m a lefty as well and have adjusted to using the mouse without a problem. Using binders and writing in spiral notebeooks, however has never been fun!! Husband and I are both teachers, and have 2 kids (6 and under) and it is ROUGH. We are definitely doing the bare minimum academically and have been trying to do our best to stagger work times. There is no easy answer, however #solidarity

    • Reply Melissa Holmes April 15, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      I’m lefty too. I have never used a mouse with my left hand. My 11 year old son is also lefty and I just called him over to ask and he said the same thing. Interesting. I took guitar lessons many years ago and used a lefty guitar.

    • Reply Sarah April 15, 2020 at 7:14 pm

      I find it really surprising that right handed mouse use is required. To me it’s reminiscent of the old rules against even writing left handed. I’m a lefty and have always used a mouse left handed (not reprogramming buttons, just shifting it to the other side of the keyboard). It’s not hard to shift it over, sometimes with a little shorter cord, and has never been a problem for me.

  • Reply Sarah K April 15, 2020 at 8:45 am

    You are very lucky that your daughter is so self directed! I am dealing with a 4th grader with ADHD and a kindergartener who can’t quite read yet with no extra childcare help (and both my husband and I trying to WFH) and it is a STRUGGLE.

  • Reply Gillian April 15, 2020 at 9:16 am

    My first grade boy also needs 1:1 attention to get his school work done and he still often throws tantrums about certain assignments. I think somewhere in his mind he just CAN’T equate this with what he was doing at school. Our saintly au pair has been driving the bus (pun sadly intended) on this and manages to get it done, but it takes about twice as long as it should. Meanwhile our 4 year old completed something like 40 tracing worksheets (given to keep him busy) in the same time. He begs for school work. Ugh!!!

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly April 15, 2020 at 9:18 am

    We just started remote learning this week and it has been a struggle so far. For the past few weeks, we have just been doing workbooks and online academic games and it has been pretty easy. This week we started actual school work and so far they need a lot of support. Hoping they will get the hang of it and become more independent.

  • Reply Cin April 15, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Telemed over here as my husband ( Cardiologist), Has the library taken over with 2 laptops/ I-pad. Trying to keep our Dogs from Batking a lot. Grand Rounds today too… so gonna have to do my knitting in back bedroom with door closed. Keep telling myself changes are good, and I can learn from change and being un-comfortable.
    Your children are beautiful and I enjoy your blog.
    Take care!

  • Reply Kae @ Grateful Kae April 15, 2020 at 11:05 am

    I like the whiteboard idea. While my boys seem to be doing well overall with the whole online schooling thing, I feel like some of our day-to-day chores/ normal activities have fallen slightly off the wagon. Without the structure of leaving for school in the morning and other activities at night, it feels easy to forget about some of the normal expectations we have for them (like wiping down the bathroom counter in the morning or other chore type things). I may try going back to a whiteboard checklist for a while! We’ve done that successfully in the past over the years.

  • Reply Ana April 15, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    I’m making checklist and using white boards and set up rewards systems, and it is still all falling apart for us. This week I’ve had a lot of tele med and other meeting so I can not supervise. Husband does some, but also doesn’t seem to know/care what they are supposed to do (this is infuriating) but also has a lot of work/meetings so maybe is just disconnecting out of necessity (if only I could do that! I’d be so much more productive!)
    10 year old has ADHD and just CAN’T stay on task at home, he has a decent amount of assignments to get done (starting this week) and its a struggle. 8 year old is bored, the work they are given is too easy and he “hates” iReady —I have him doing older grade math on Khan academy and doing independent writing (which causes tantrums daily) and art lessons on you tube, just to engage the creative side before he gets to play video games/etc…

    • Reply omdg April 15, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      Lol same husband situation here. Found out he had no idea what the extra stuff was daughter was supposed to do this week, and that he had ignored repeated emails asking him to sign her up for Zoom recess. I was in the OR. WTF am I supposed to even do about this? (Answer: nothing.)

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 15, 2020 at 9:02 pm

        Definitely nothing!

  • Reply Megan April 16, 2020 at 1:45 am

    Would it be worth getting Cameron a wobble board or a wobble chair? Might help with focusing for longer?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 16, 2020 at 6:09 am

      ooh the chair looks like a good idea! will think about trying that!

  • Reply Nataliya April 16, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    Orange Theory is posting daily workouts on their app. Can also be found here:

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