How Leadership Skills Helped me Survive Zoom School as a Parent. pt 2

| Chris Barrows | Team Articles

* Value Time * Adaptability * There is always a smarter, faster and better way. *

Every morning, getting the kids up and ready for remote learning is its own struggle.  I even began to somewhat view myself almost as a Sisyphus-like figure. Getting them up and ready in the morning was my boulder to roll up the hill.

Each day, by the end of their 1st class, I’d notice them running out of steam.  They were mentally exhausted already.  They’d gotten plenty of sleep and had a healthy breakfast, but if you didn’t know it was 9:45am, you’d think they’d already sat through 6 hours of class.  

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So I began to reflect on our routine.  I realized how much “work” they probably felt they had already done.  We first had to decide who got to use the sink in the bathroom first to brush their teeth, then decide what to wear, what to eat, what to drink, what cartoon to watch.  There was no shortage of decisions to be made and perhaps I took for granted how much this could take out of them.  With 3 of them, there is quite a bit of negotiation going on and I wanted to be nice so there was almost no limit to the options I’d provide.  

When it comes to physical matters, people know that we have limits.  You can’t run a marathon every day.  You don’t max out at the gym each time you go.  Usain Bolt doesn’t try to set a World Record every time his feet touch the ground.  Football players only play 1 game a week.  We know we peak and we can only ask our bodies to do something a limited amount of times before we see diminishing returns.

Why would we treat our brains any differently? Especially in young children.

Decisions are decisions.  Without routine, they were spending way too much energy on things that were essentially inconsequential.

From here, I dug into my bag of tricks from work and endeavored to help them build better routines that would hopefully some of the decisions off their plate.  “Switch”, by Chip Heath, was a huge inspiration.

Direct the Rider:  I limit the choices they have to make.  Clothes are laid out, two options for breakfast, I choose the cartoon weekly.

Motivate the Elephant:  We stay focused on just the 1.5 hours before class begins.  The school day, lunch, and after school activities are off the table.  Thinking that far ahead tends to distract and overwhelm them.

Shape the Path:  My habit now is I get the girls ready first with my son lingering about 10 minutes behind them.  It’s less to juggle and less commotion.  Bathroom, then clothes, then food, then cartoon.  We don’t do any of them out of order as much as they want to skip around.

Mornings aren’t perfect, some can still be brutal, but we’re working on getting better.  1% better each day is all we can hope for.



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