United by Exhaustion: Divided by Dysfunction

Brief Reflection: South Florida

Day 30 of our self-isolation here at the Bean abode and although our household has been apart from everyone else physically in our Palm Beach County community, we feel as though we’re close to so many others given the collective circumstance we’re all experiencing during this COVID-19 global pandemic.

The first time I wrote on this subject of Covid-19 and most U.S.  students’ lives being drastically changed we were having a full moon here —last week we had another full moon, and so life continues for the planet even while it seems it’s in an uncomfortable stasis.

Looking Around

Based on what I read in the news and social media coupled with communication between family and friends, it seems we are all in a fog of recognition that a great deal of change to our behavior has occurred in most everyone’s lives in the last several weeks in our American Republic.

Our social media feeds include random posts of photos to help distract, memes for medicinal laughter, media links to help educate, invitations to gather virtually—and then sometimes, for some of us like myself, we end up turning off our phones and other electronic devices to just take a break from it all. 

Right Now: April 15, 2020

Wacky Wednesday…time to clean out the bathroom!

It’s Wednesday, “hump day”, the day that most workers during the week would herald as one to push on through and afterwards enjoy the “downhill” slide to the end of the work week.  Today Wednesday is the day that most parents and caregivers woke up and could hardly see straight or move their broken bodies to keep up with the frenetic pace that their little ones (or even teenage ones) began this day with–ah, to be young again.

As a homeschooling mother of three children: respectively aged 11, 9, and 5 years old, I would like to take a quick moment to tell you that if you are a parent/caregiver to any child(ren) during this time and are having to deal with having them home when usually they would be at school: You. Are. Amazing! Please, give yourself grace and hug them as much as you can every day.  This is a temporary period and there will come a day when the old routines will return.

Truly, there is no playbook for what is happening these past few weeks, and no matter if you have a background in education or have kids at home for your own curriculum or virtual school anyway— this collective arrangement is completely new to us all.  It’s an overwhelming, bittersweet blessing in some ways and we cannot judge each other for however we manage our homes over the matter.

It’s Tax Day too. Good thing there’s an extension for those who haven’t filed yet!

Trying to Look Ahead

No words…

Our nation is united in a state of suspended grief and continuous exhaustion.  We’re all trying to find our new normal after altering our habits.  It’s said that it takes humans about 30 days to break a habit and about 30 days to make new ones—so here we are.

Unfortunately, as the coronavirus fatigue wears on, our federal and state elected officials are having a challenging time with how to coordinate efforts to help our healthcare and first responder workers along with trying to balance the adverse effects on our economy as a whole.  

There is article after article citing the difficulties that American families are facing economically, mentally, and the long-term effects expected for our children.  How can we as parents/caregivers see straight some days as we collectively squint ahead on what our new normal routines will be going forward?

There is a feeling of helplessness that can take hold and yet thankfully we can take stock of our immediate surrounding as well as our greater community to see if there is anything we can do to help.  Obviously, staying put has been most helpful in areas trying to “flatten the curve” as we’ve all learned—but we need to be more active and there are ways we can do more with all the 21st century tools we have.

No Time for Politics and Yet It’s Time for Politics

Old girl learning new ways to work to help others…

For those of you reading that know me, I have worked for congressional Republicans on Capitol Hill in the past.  For my last paying job before I gave birth to my first child, I was honored to serve as a political appointee in the George W. Bush administration as a worker for Secretary Henry Paulson’s office.  Watching from afar the respective Obama and now Trump administrations has been a rollercoaster ride for folks like me who were once part of the inner-workings of our federal government.  

I’ve often defended both Democrats and Republicans in the various federal offices because I trust that many mean well for our nation, even if I don’t necessarily agree with their political stances.  Then there are moments like this Covid-19 global pandemic that serve to fleece all those in elected positions of power and reveal who among us are the compassionate leaders and who are the consistently inconsistent ones that voters need to re-examine closely should they run again.

Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic party in the run for President of the United States this year.  Both Senator Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama have come out publicly to endorse him in the past week or two (hard to keep up during coronavirus timeline).

I have made tentative predictions in the past when it comes to presidential elections and although they’ve not been popular ones with some of my Republican counterparts, they’ve stemmed from my assessment of where the American public seems to be emotionally.

Where are Americans now emotionally-speaking?  

94-year-old Granddad Bean, WWII mentality during Covid-19, walking daily while self-isolated…

We are united in fatigue.  We’re fatigued from the constant bickering between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration from the moment he was sworn in as President of the United States.  We’re fatigued from the media’s energies and tax-payers’ money spent on investigating hacking from foreign sources like Russia when it comes to how our 2016 presidential election played out.  We’re fatigued from the conspiracy theories that the Earth may actually be flat and that former President Bill Clinton had an active friendship with now-deceased Jeffrey Epstein.  Finally, 2019 closed with impeachment hearings and votes by the U.S. House of Representatives and a drawn-out affair in the Senate that yielded no true outcome in President Trump’s “impeachment”. All while Covid-19 had likely already reached our American shores and sickened many without knowing what it was.

If Joe Biden wins this upcoming fall over President Trump, it will be most likely attributed to how tired the American psyche is as a collective and particularly because of who Biden agrees to have surround him in governance beginning with his selection of a running mate—preferably a female for his Vice President selection.  While I grant that I’m biased as a woman myself, I don’t believe that women need to run the world entirely, rather that a balance in governance must be struck. 100 years ago, this August we’ll recognize when our federal government said women can vote (but that unfortunately didn’t include women of color). We need both men and women, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents…we need everyone to find a way to balance having constructive debates and at the same time keep our states and nation as a whole moving forward with productive compromises to thrive and grow as the United States of America.

Divided by Dysfunction

There’s no point in my writing about what we’ve all been witnessing as the Covid-19 crisis has unfolded in the last month or so here.  Most of us have had much more time to read, research, and simply watch press conferences daily from all sorts of sources.

My prayer and hope as a private citizen today is that we can overcome our division by dysfunction and continue to work toward a better future for our nation and to leave a legacy that our next generation can build on.

In the meantime, I wish good health to anyone reading or a safe recovery to anyone still battling this virus or any other illness for that matter.  May we all find ways to make the most of this bittersweet “Pause of 2020” due to the Covid-19 crisis and be able to move forward filled with hope for better days instead of fearing days ahead.

R.V.S. Bean

Busy hands make hearts happy…


Some of my past related blog shorts:

https://ceoofthehome.net/2020/03/10/the-true-corona-nightmare-what-if-youre-cooped-up-with-children-and-covid-19/

https://ceoofthehome.net/2016/11/01/united-we-vote-and-slump-clinton-or-trump/

https://ceoofthehome.net/2016/03/16/fog-lifting-america-may-be-ready-for-trump-or-not/

https://ceoofthehome.net/2013/07/15/the-education-revolution-perception-possibilities-and-parents-prerogative/

The True Corona Nightmare: What If You’re Cooped Up with Children and COVID-19?

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“Worm” Full Moon in South Florida March 9, 2020

March 13, 2020

COVID-19 Quarantine: What If?

As the World Health Organization deliberated earlier this week on whether to upgrade COVID-19 from an epidemic to pandemic, I sensed another collective wave of anxiety rising in parents and caregivers throughout the United States: What if I have to quarantine myself and my children? What if my job forces me to stay home at the same time my children’s school (or glorified daycare) shuts down and moves to an online format? What if I must be a “stay-at-home” with no end in sight?

Hope and Experience Reigns

Having personally logged more than a decade’s worth of “homemaker” status experience complete with a full range of infant/pediatric care for three children and geriatric home care for octogenarians/nonagenarians, I feel this is a good time for me to share with the online community some quick tips of how to survive and thrive in a possible quarantine situation with little or big ones at home.  My tone is intended to offer hope and inspiration for ideas should you find yourself stuck at home with children.

Being a teacher-caregiver with three home/multi-schooled children, I’d also like to add some levity to the topic by dispensing my humble tidbits with an acronym description for COVID-19 using CORONA as the base word.  At the end of each vignette I’ll try to provide some weblinks when able to help you research your own home plan of action. Thankfully Google and other search engines like talking with your family and friends still exist to help you brainstorm your respective paths.

C is for Correspondence Courses, Creativity, and Calming Continuity

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Materials from http://www.mothergoosetime.com

The good news is that in 2020 most Americans have access to a wealth of resources both online and in print at home when it comes to helping educate students of all ages.  If your children are enrolled in a traditional “brick and mortar” school, chances are your school district or the institution will also provide links and virtual options should you be in a self- or mandated quarantine scenario.

Take this opportunity to declutter and disinfect your home dwelling, in the process carving out an area for your students to conduct their studies.  Comfortable and clear options for seating help your children find a cozy place to read, write, and create new ideas in your home abode.  If you own books, consider congregating them in one room or area.  One of my favorite places as a child was that space made in the children’s area of the public library that silently invited children to come and have a seat and open up the physical possibilities in a book, magazine, or today a “tippity-tapping” or swiping of the screen.

A few of my personal favorite websites to consider using for both digital and print educational materials: www.education.com, www.teacherspayteachers.com, www.ctcmath.com, www.ancient.eu, www.welltrainedmind.com, www.loc.gov, www.congress.gov, www.kumonbooks.com, http://www.scholeacademy.com

O is for Opportunity, Order, and Operations Management

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Found on Facebook, meme author unknown

While staying at home is not for the feeble of spirit or faint of organized, there isn’t any true template of what the order of things should look like in your space.  If recent political news is of any sobering indication, it’s that we Americans say we want change and yet are slow to accept changes in how we accept stereotypical roles.  We say we want more racial, gender, and age diversity in positions of government power and yet the U.S. Presidential field is now down to the likes of Senator Bernie Sanders and former V.P. Joe Biden to face President Trump in the fall elections.  This slowness to adapt change is especially true when running a household with children.

Somewhere along the line in our social evolution following the Industrial Age, the onus fell on the woman of the household to be responsible for the cooking, cleaning, and all other chores regulated to the “homemaker”.  When facilitating the education of your children at home, your workload more than triples because it is a full-time job alone to help students with their school studies—let alone teach them yourself.

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Motherhood is messy with little helpers sometimes, but tasty!

If delegation is king in the outside working world, then it is most imperative at home.  I recommend devising a list on a visible chart for the household to see helping divest the household chores that needed to keep everyone clean, healthy, well-fed, and in turn happy.  If you have been managing the home without much help from your dependents, consider the opportunity to alleviate those daily stresses and help foster more responsibility in your children.

In my home, the older children have certain nights they are assigned planning the dinner menu and must fold their own laundry (at age 10 you get your own hamper and clean your clothes too!).  Lunchtime is their own responsibility, however, I do provide choices that within their respective age-appropriate ability. For instance, an 8-year-old can reach the sliced bread to apply both peanut butter and jelly for their sandwich.

There are numerous resources online for tips or printables for devising a list of responsibilities for your household. Consider reading books to the younger ones that cover taking care of the home or cooking.  For the older kids, be honest and discuss what your concerns/needs are and what are they able to consider doing to be a beneficial working part of the household.  Again, consider finding a template list that works for you as guidance, one of my favorites: https://livingmontessorinow.com/montessori-monday-age-appropriate-chores-for-children-free-printables/

R is for Rest, Reset, and Review What’s Really Important

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Personal back portrait from days gone by

The old writings in various cultures and in my personal reading of Christian scriptures often repeat the adage that when faced with an unexpected circumstance in life that could be deemed unfortunate, there is good that can come out of it eventually if not immediately.

So, you’re suddenly stuck at home with children and your job whether it was inside or outside of the home. This combination can be depression-inducing or at the very least aggravating.  Also consider that your children are having a difficult time with this unforeseen set of events.  More often than not, your children will absorb and in turn react to however you’re feeling and acting in this situation.  Your default reaction may be either free-fall into this experience without much organization or swing to the other extreme of trying to exact complete control over every minute of the day with your children—both of these extremes can produce unsavory results.

I mention “rest” and “reset” in this section because for many of you, this may be how you try to approach the school break times in your children’s year.  If the summer is their big vacation time, the first few weeks are a decompression time for your students before settling into a new routine.  If this concept is foreign to you, again, there is no true template for you and your children but consider this to be a time to review what’s truly important.

Not unlike adults, children and teenagers need routine to help them grow and flourish.  They also need rest and reflection within that daily construct.  Being at home for extended hours every day may be something your entire household is not used to with jobs, school, extra-curriculars and the like.  Remember that the opportunities to learn are not regulated to your students, you have a chance to learn alongside them and realize what amazing souls reside in your children when not stressed about running from schools to practices in traffic every day.

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Lakeside park in North Palm Beach

O is for the Outdoors

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Trail in Signal Mountain, Tennessee

The fact that I may have to consider lecturing anyone on the importance of the outdoors for both children and adults is disturbing.  Yet many Americans have simply lost touch (physically especially) with the outdoors and what raw nature can teach us.  No amount of screen time with educational applications can replace what the interaction of the human and Earth can yield in terms of creativity, philosophical reflection, botanical and zoological education, and an overall appreciation for the organic mechanizations that make our daily life on this planet possible.

As mentioned before, there are countless digital and print ideas for how to approach “field trips” outside with your children.  You may be able to simple open your back or front door to investigate.  For avid readers, consider downloading or checking out from your local library the following book: “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv.

Our household is blessed with a backyard that’s allowed me the freedom to create planters with herbs, fruits, and vegetables with my children.  I’ve also allowed them a space in the yard to literally dig into the dirt and create and recreate their own worlds, complete with a hose running water through it.

My children’s world they named”Tai-rang”

Although this may overwhelm anyone with germaphobe tendencies, there is a lot of scientific research still coming in that points to the benefits of us interacting with nature, i.e. playing in the mud.  What good is teaching our children about the environment in schools if they don’t have the opportunity to physically walk, run, and play in it?  You never know, the extra time taken to go outside with your child this week may help inspire them to find a calling in a profession that would help the environment in the future.

www.nps.gov, www.stateparks.org, www.arborday.org, www.nationalgeographic.com

N is for Nesting, Neighbors, Not Saying “No” So Much, and News

 We usually think of “nesting” as a term reserved for the woman swelling with expectancy of her child’s birth.  In the case of a quarantine situation, it may be the first time you’ve had an extended period to sit in one place and really assess what does your home look like?  I personally went through a phase years ago where I researched “feng shui” for ideas on how to work with what I had in our home: https://www.thespruce.com/easy-steps-to-feng-shui-living-room-1274493

Neighbors: remember them?  Maybe you have great relationships with the people immediately to your right and left—or maybe not.  This may also be a season of learning who and what are in your local community and how you may be of help to each other during a possible COVID-19 outbreak in your area.

When dealing with circumstances beyond our control, we often resort to trying to control what we can.  If you’re a parent you also know that being at home with your children often involves many questions an hour and therefore innumerable ways to say “no”.  The trap for us becomes evident when we’re trying to exert more control in our home life and start replying in the negative more often than actually necessary.  Again, if you need more ideas as to how to respond more positively, there are many articles and blog entries online covering the subject or ask your local tribe of family and friends what their strategies are in communications with their children.

News may be a tap or a click away for most Americans, but when you’re stuck in the house this medium can get old very quickly.  It so happens that many publications still provide subscription materials at home these days.  In my home we have a 94-year-old and children under the age of 10 who especially benefit from the print medium.  Perhaps call your local paper or check in with your favorite magazine sources to see if you can enact a short-term subscription to have the publication(s) delivered to your door.

A is for Art Therapy, Appreciation, Adventure, and Amazon

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R.V.S.B. original art, acrylic on canvas, circa 2002

If you are a parent or caregiver of little ones then you know their affinity for drawing and coloring.  As an educator, I’ve noticed that the older children get it seems the less likely they are to participate in the visual arts unless they’re taught.  While I understand this may be subject matter out of your league, try to open your mind to the possibility that participating alongside your student in an artistic endeavor may benefit you too.

A time of quarantine at home with children may seem as inviting as hunkering down in a hurricane with them (I’ve been there too), but I focus on looking at the bright side for both parties to better appreciate each other.  This may be the first time you really get to pause and read through what coursework your children are doing at school and understand why they may be so detached and cranky at the end of a stressful school day.  In turn, your children may learn more about what you actually do at work during the day and how those responsibilities can drain you to the point of having a short-fuse temper if they make a mess on the floor when they’re home with you after school.

At risk of being redundant, adventure lies in the unexpected and a quarantine may afford the only “pause” time in your relationship with your children to seek out a new way of looking at things together.  If nothing else, this time together helps demonstrate to our children that life is filled with unplanned occasions where we simply need to press forward and make a positive outcome of it.

Amazon: need I say more?  At this time, we have the opportunity to have things delivered to our door via humans.  If they get short-staffed due to COVID-19, then the drone technology will likely get some quick updates.

Corona Closing

While we can all debate ad nauseum about novel this virus concern is, we are finding that government authorities around the world are taking unique measures that we’ve not seen since the likes of America’s travel security aftermath in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  As a home caregiver and educator, I’d like to impart the idea that staying at home with your children may be a life-changing opportunity offered during this temporary season. Although you wouldn’t have planned it this way, it may be priceless in its yields for both of your futures as parent and child.

R.V.S.Bean

About the Author: Current caregiver and education administrator at home and MBA candidate at University of Florida’s Warrington School of Business, her past life prior to children included work as a political appointee worker for President G.W. Bush at the U.S. Treasury Department, Legislative Aide for former Congressman Mark A. Foley, and reading teacher at Bannockburn Elementary in Illinois.
Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"