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Back to School 2021 After a Pandemic

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Hey there, you’re listening to the Katie Lance podcast. It’s episode 126 and today we are talking about going back to school. Holy moly, you guys, it is official. Our two boys are back in school in person. Not that they weren’t in school, but as so many of you parents and guardians and grandparents out there, we of course are reflecting back on this past kind of crazy year and a half, our kids were zooming and going to school remotely with everything going on with the pandemic. So our kids are back in school in-person and I just thought I would hop on the podcast here because, for our podcast listeners, if you’re new to the podcast, we, we have a variety of topics here on the podcast. I created the podcast a few years ago to be a place where we could talk about business and social media, but also personal things, parenthood and being a mom and work-life balance and working with your spouse.

And we also tackle a lot of tough issues like diversity and racism. And so I thought, you know what? This would be a really good opportunity to share with you what it’s been like sending our kids back to school now, full disclosure, this podcast is going to be published sometime in September, and I’m recording this in August. So we just went back a few days ago. So it should be interesting to see if anything has changed between the time of me recording this and this actually going live. So it’s only been a few days, but I thought we could sit down and have a little coffee chat. So grab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage, and let’s chat about what it’s been like to take your kids back to school. So the day that our two boys went back to school, and for those of you who don’t know, we have two boys, 10 and 13.

Our ten-year-old Luke is in fifth grade. Our 13 year old Owen is in eighth grade, both really big pivotal years, right. For us here in California, fifth grade is the last year before middle school. And then eighth grade is the last year before high school. So really big pivotal moments and they started back up, like I said, just really a few days ago, last week. And ironically, it was actually 17 months to the day of the day that they left school 17 months earlier. Their last day was March 11th in 2020. And like a lot of you, I’m sure a lot of us sort of felt the same way. I remember thinking, okay, well, you know, we’ll be home for maybe a week or two or a couple of weeks. And then, you know, we’ll kind of get back to normal.

Well, I think we can all laugh about that now considering where we are in the process of everything. So, our school district at the end of the school year had offered a hybrid option at the very end of the school year. And so some of my boys’ friends did end up going back into the classroom with an abbreviated schedule. We chose to keep the kids home, our boys, we feel very grateful in the fact that we have been healthy, knock on wood and they got to the point where they were getting into a really good routine. To be honest with you. I know they miss their friends. I know that zooming and learning virtually it’s not the same as face-to-face by any means, but kids are also creatures of habit. And our boys have always really operated well under routines. So we chose to keep them in for the last, you know, six or eight weeks of the school year, last year.

So for us going back was really, definitely back to school. And I have to share with you guys, it was emotional and also to say, I’m an emotional person to begin with. So if you know me and if you know me well, you know, like it doesn’t take a whole lot, right? I’m a well-timed hallmark commercial, a movie trailer that just hits the right way. Yeah. I’m a bucket of tears. So I’m an emotional person. However, first day of school I feel like is always kind of an emotional time. I definitely was emotional and I carved out a little bit of time that day. I made sure I didn’t schedule too much work-wise that day but I definitely had a lot of mixed emotions. I was very excited for the boys. It was, you know, exciting for them, but also, you know, if I can be honest, just a little nerve wracking, you know, we don’t know what is going to happen.

We don’t know, you know, are we going to have to get shut down or are we going to, at some point have to go back into quarantine? Um, and so, you know, I’ve, I’ve just chose to be like, look, this is where we’re at. We’re going to be, as you know, I’ve tried to be as positive as possible and also be as safe as possible. And I’m really grateful for our school district and in all of our local teachers. Um, just so, so grateful that they are putting into place. Um, so many great safety measures, um, in terms of basking and just keeping everyone safe and, you know, just doing all the things that I think are important. And so, um, we’re very, very grateful about that, but, you know, like I said, I, I had, um, and I still have some mixed feelings. So I would say first off, like I said, excited, excited for my kids.

They could be back in person. Um, I remember that first day coming home and, and after we dropped the kids off, we, uh, my husband and I went out to kind of, uh, a late breakfast and we were like, this is, this is really nice. You know, it’s like, where are the kids? And then we came home and, you know, for those of you who know, know me, well, my husband and I work from home, we work virtually, we own our own business. And so, um, you know, working at home is nothing new, but working in home with kids over the last 17 months has been a little crazy. We’ve done a few other episodes, um, which I’m happy to link below if you’re curious of sort of our trajectory over the last year and a half, but we’ve done a number of episodes about our kids and, you know, schedules and how we’ve sort of muddled through it.

But, um, we know, we know that we’re not out of the woods, you know, I think that’s the biggest thing. We’re cautiously optimistic. Um, and you know, a little, a little nervous, which I think, I think, you know, I would imagine a lot, lots of, you know, parents and guardians probably feel that same way. So like I said, I can’t, I can’t give enough kudos to our teachers and our local school district I’m so, um, you know, they’re, they’re in a tough spot, they’re in a tough spot. And I think they’re, you know, they’ve got it from both angles and people, you know, are going to be happy. People are not going to be happy. Um, but you know, I’m just grateful for the work that they’re doing. They’re doing really the best that they can do. Um, and I’ll, I’ll, you know, one thing that really stuck out to me that first day of school, especially at my son’s, um, my younger son at his elementary school, we dropped him off and we got there early because I was super worried about lines and traffic and everything.

So we got there really early and we were able to park and just kind of walked him in to S or we weren’t able to walk him into school, but we walked to the outside of the school and it was really great. The PTA had done a great job putting up signs and, you know, really welcoming people back. And I saw a big group photo being taken in the parking lot. And I quickly realized that it was, um, a lot of the teachers. And then as the teachers walked in through the front gates, um, a lot of people started applauding, which just really warmed my heart. You know, I just think about what, you know, teachers have been trained to do and what then what they were really kind of forced to do over the last year and a half as far as just being flexible and, and, and switching to that online environment.

So I give them so much credit and, um, you know, I guess part of me feels like, well, worst case scenario, if we do have to go back to some sort of quarantine situation, I guess the silver lining is that we have those processes in place. We know how to do that. And I also think to be honest with you, the resiliency that our kids have faced over this last year and a half, granted, some people might feel like, gosh, my kids are maybe a little bit behind. Maybe our kids are a lot behind. And I realize I’m speaking at all of this, really from a place of extreme privilege in the sense that we’re self-employed and we’re able to be home. And, and, you know, we, we aren’t, you know, in a place where we’re worried about finances or health and things like that.

So we, I, I certainly want to acknowledge that because I think that that’s an important thing to think about, but, um, you know, at the same time, I just think our kids have learned these skills that gosh, so many people still struggle with, right. Zoom and managing time online and, and, uh, you know, composing emails and just, you know, being good digital citizens. Um, and so that’s, that’s what I like to, that’s what I like to think about. Um, I also, I’m going to link in the show notes below. I read a really interesting article from the LA times about back to school. Um, it talks about how this marks the third academic year of education that California 6 million children have been affected by COVID. Um, and that really, that really stuck out to me right. Of how much time has passed. And, you know, I just look at my own kids.

Um, we did a virtual back to school night with my younger son, Luke, with his fifth grade class and his teacher, when she was doing the back to school night, she said, you know, your fifth graders, most of them have not been in a physical classroom since third grade. And man, that really just like hit me in the gut. And I, I kinda got, teary-eyed just thinking about, you know, for those of you with kids, like just the difference between a third grader and a fifth grader, mentally, emotionally, um, is huge. And so I really love that our schools are really focusing on like the social and relational part of school. And that’s really what we’re trying to focus on also is just that kind of acclimation back to being with kids and being around a lots of people and things like that. You know, I was talking to my older son, Owen, who like I said, is in eighth grade.

And he said to me, he’s like, mom, I have not been to a last day of school in school since elementary school. And I really had to think about the math on that. I was like, how is that possible? And so I thought back and I thought, okay, starting eighth grade. So he spent all of seventh grade at home. Sixth grade was cut short. He left sixth grade mid-March to come do school from home. And so really his last day of school in a school was back when he was in fifth grade, right back in elementary school. So that’s why I wanted to mention this LA times article, because I just think it really, it puts things in perspective as far as time. It’s the third academic year that this has been effective. So what are some of the ways that we’re trying to get our kids back into a schedule back into a routine?

Because like I said, in the very beginning, kids are very, they thrive with routines. And I think probably a lot of us could say that. I know I could say that. And so, um, I am, one of the things I did is I made up a little checklist that I have on our kitchen counter. Um, one for Luke, one for Owen, just a really simple checklist of what they need before they leave the house. So things like backpack, water, bottles, masks, you know, hand sanitizer, Chromebook, whatever it is that they specifically need. Um, and just getting it. So, you know, it sounds like a simple thing which is getting them back into the routine of like being responsible. What do I need for myself to be successful that day on the way out the door? And I would also say just getting them back into a routine, um, bedtime was a big thing, and I’m sure a lot of you can relate, um, you know, towards the end of, I think this past school year, we got really lax with things and our kids were going to bed, uh, later in later.

So just getting them back into an earlier bedtime routine and, um, you know, reevaluating boundaries when it comes to electronics, because we know that, uh, you know, obviously they’re on screen time a lot. I mean, holy cow, over the last 17 months, they were on an extraordinary amount of screen time, but just kind of reevaluating that. And re-evaluating, um, you know, how that works in our house, um, as far as, you know, making sure taking care of your responsibilities first, whether that’s chores or a big believer in chores. Um, in fact, I think I did a whole podcast episode about the chores that our kids do. So that’s important, you know, taking care of the things that they are responsible for, like dishes and setting the table and making their bed and take helping, you know, pinch pinch, hit with a cat and take care of the cat food litter, things like that.

Um, making sure they have the responsibilities with homework and then, you know, their fun time and their fun time is not just electronics. Right. And just like, I think with any kids, they’re your fun time. Your relaxed time should not just be on your phone, but, you know, I think just kind of setting some boundaries around phone time or iPad time or whatever that looks like for your family. Um, and then, you know, making sure that your kids have other things besides electronics, you know, whether whatever they’re interested in, you know, for our older son, oh, and he’s really into baseball. So it’s like, let’s get out, let’s practice, let’s pitch. Um, you know, for our, our younger son, he’s like, you know, we’ll get outside, always play and run around, um, our court or he’s on our he’s on a scooter or, you know, he’s reading a book or whatever it might be.

So just, I think having that balance of electronics and, um, you know, but ultimately, like I said, when it comes to school, I, I really am glad with the school that the school is really focusing on this like social and relational focus. And that’s really where, where we are too. So just getting back into routines, you know, um, I think we’ve always been pretty good about having family dinners together. And so that’s a great time, you know, I love dinner time. Doesn’t have to be fancy. Um, but just getting, getting together every night and kind of regrouping, I have really realized once again and again, we’re only kind of in the second week of school here, but just, you know, when the kids come home from school, I am tempted to like pepper them with questions, but I’d like to kind of, I’ve been trying to kind of give them time to just like unwind a little bit.

Right. Um, I’ve heard, I’ve heard somebody say this, it’s almost like a landing strip, you know, and planes are coming in for a landing. They need that time to kind of, you know, slow down and like, um, you know, arrive. And I feel like that’s kind of what happens with our kids. They’re away all day at school. So coming in and not like jumping all over them, but just sort of trying to give them a little bit of space. Um, and I find that, you know, for me, I want to know everything about their day because I’ve missed them. Um, you know, this first few days just looking around the house going, where are they? I mean, to be honest with you, we spent more time with our kids in the last year and a half then probably we ever have, even when they were, you know, really be, uh, you know, babies, um, with daycare and things like that.

So, you know, just getting, getting back into those routines and, um, I think that’s super, super, super key. The other thing I want to mention real quick, um, that’s been really helpful that we have sort of, re-instituted one of my favorite apps. I’ve mentioned this before on the podcast is the life 360 app. Um, I love that app. My husband and I have that on our phone and my older son, Owen, who is allowed to take a phone to school. He doesn’t use it during school, but he’s allowed to have it. And he rides his bike to school. He has it on his phone. And so now that he’s more out and about, um, I have loved that app. It’s great. I can, you know, he’ll ride his bike to school, but I can open up the app and I can kind of track him on my phone to make sure that he gets there.

Okay. And then when he’s heading home and I can kind of keep an eye on him and stuff like that. So, you know, like I said, just kind of getting back into, uh, into the swing of things. So, so that’s where we’re at, you know, um, this podcast was, um, I know a little bit, probably all over the map if you’re, if you’re listening, but I wanted to just, just kind of share, um, some ideas, some thoughts of where we’re at and, you know, like I said, we’re just, gosh, we’re really just in the second week really kind of the first full week of school. So, um, yeah, it’ll be interesting to see where we’re at by the time this publishes in a few weeks. Um, but we’re gonna keep our fingers crossed. And, uh, you know, like I said, a few times just so grateful for, for our teachers and, you know, I just think that if we can, if I, if I can give any piece of, um, piece of advice, not that you asked for it, but you’re listening to my podcast.

So give you a piece of advice is, you know, just try to give, give some grace and give some empathy. I think everyone’s doing the best that they can do. And, you know, let’s just be kind to each other. I know that there’s a lot of differences of opinions out there, but you know, let’s, let’s try to give each other some grace let’s trust the science. Uh, let’s keep our kids safe. That’s, that’s the most important thing. So, all right. My friends, thank you so much for tuning in. I so appreciate it. I would love to hear from you, you know, have your kids gone back to school, if you are a parent or guardian or, and if you don’t have kids, I would love your thoughts on this opinion too, about, uh, you know, kids, kids back at school. So let me know. You can always reach out to me and Instagram. That’s usually the best way to reach me. I’m at Katie Lance over on Instagram. And of course, if you enjoyed the podcast, share it out. That’s the best thing you can do to take a screenshot or share it out on social media tag me. I would absolutely love to hear from you. All right, my friends until next time, have a great day. We’ll see you soon. Bye for now.


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