Over the weekend I wrote out a very loose schedule to start with my boys this week. Now that their two week Spring Break is over, I thought it would be a good idea to implement some kind of structure to our days.

This schedule includes plenty of time for eating and getting dressed and making beds, only two hours of “learning opportunities,” as I’ve lovingly named them, plenty of time for recess, playing instruments, hitting buckets of balls, working on art projects, etc. That’s it.

Despite my best efforts, this idea was not the most popular. They have no idea how much more rigorous the schedule could have been, but oh well.

And while this reaction did not surprise me all that much, and I’m not one to let a plan derail just because two teenagers would rather not, it did make me think. Admittedly, we have been so unstructured these past couple weeks that I couldn’t even tell you how much time has been spent playing video games, watching TV, or otherwise piddling away time mindlessly.

I’m not the most disciplined person. It’s one of my least favorite things about myself. It’s times like these when I feel the most guilty about it, as this fault seems to glare even brighter than normal. There’s typically this dramatic effort by me to counteract it with big plans, but those plans often fall flat a few days in.

This situation though, it’s unprecedented. We’re all grasping at straws. New decisions are made before we have time to adjust to previous ones. Information is updated constantly.

Is anyone else as tired as I am?

So we did the new schedule yesterday, and it went pretty well.

Today? Well, today our middle son took a “field trip” to church with his dad to help record the next couple videos for Sunday morning. There’s no doubt he gained hands-on experience and learned a lot more with Dillon doing something he loves than he would have had he stayed home and worked on the computer. Our youngest slept in, took care of his morning chores and had his quiet time. We supported Chick-Fil-A and ordered a late breakfast through the drive-thru, then came home and played MarioKart and called it “computer time.”

I told you, I’m a mess when it comes to staying disciplined. This is day TWO, people. Day. Two.

Here’s the thing, friends. At the risk of sounding like I’m making excuses (I’m not), no matter how you’re handling this whole thing, YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB. Keep reminding yourself of this fact when you feel like you’re messing everything up and your kids are doomed. You’re not and they aren’t.

Granted, this is just my opinion, but if it makes you feel any better – my degree is in Family Psychology, which mostly focuses on human development, social interaction, and how relationships impact our lives and mold us into who we are. I’m also an assistant teacher to an incredible group of 4th graders, so not for one second will I flippantly say that these few weeks (that will likely stretch into a few months) of not learning formally in school doesn’t matter. It does.

But.

This is an opportunity for us to focus in on a different type of learning. I’m not talking about what we learn from books, even though that matters. This is an opportunity to really dig deep with our family. I think about how each and every time winter comes around I hope and pray for snow days. Why do we love snow days? Because it’s a chance to disconnect from our responsibilities and normal day-to-day stuff and just BE. Be together with our favorite people. It’s guilt-free time to watch movies, curl up with a favorite book, play games, catch up with old friends by phone, write letters (how I love real mail!), research something you’ve always been interested in, take up a new hobby, try cooking different recipes, build something, etc. etc. etc.

Try to see what we’re going through as the ultimate snow day. Everyone at home, cozy, fed, warm, safe. What more could we ask for?

{*Disclaimer: there are many of you who are being impacted financially by this whole mess. I understand that, will never minimize that, and am included in that group. While we don’t really depend on my income, we’re still going to feel it, and it’s going to hurt a little. When I’m nervous about finances or have questions, I typically turn to the incredibly wise Dave Ramsey. As usual, he has something to say about all this that includes a very practical plan for you to implement to take some of the stress away. Read this and you’ll feel better.}

Okay, now where were we? The ultimate snow day. Yes, even the excitement of a snow day will wear off, and that certainly is the case here. But can I please encourage you to try something?

Invest in your mental health during these days. And if you have a spouse and/or children, be intentional in investing in theirs.

When in the classroom, I love seeing our students’ light bulbs go off. When you’ve gotten as creative as you possibly can to help them understand a new concept and they grasp it, it’s a pretty incredible feeling. But you know what’s even better? When they give me a huge hug and thank me for listening to a worry they have or for helping them solve an issue with a friend. Or the relief I see on their faces when I’ve realized their brains are just tired and they need a break, so we head out for an extra recess or play a game in the classroom instead.

I have no doubt whatsoever that those things matter just as much. In fact, I’d happily argue that they matter even more.

Here are some facts, friends. Academically, your children are not going to regress much. And if they do slip a little, it’s easily reversible. Promise. If you’re worried about their math skills, do some baking with them and have them do the measuring. If it’s reading/spelling that concerns you, read with them. This doesn’t have to be hard. No need to add stress to an already stressful situation. And if their teachers have gone to the trouble to provide learning opportunities for them, honor that by having your children complete the tasks.

Invest in their hearts. Talk about their feelings if they want to. Do much more listening than talking. Distract them from the reality of being stuck inside every day with some fun. Dance. Go outside and soak in the sun as much as you possibly can. Be silly. Surprise them with joy when everything around them feels scary and unsettled.

Most importantly, don’t overthink it. Just be the amazing parent you already are.

Our children are watching us, friends. I don’t remind you of this to worry you, but it is important that we rise above the mess and keep our cool. We will absolutely get through this and like most everything else, it’ll soon just be a little blip on our timeline. A weird blip that we hope to never see again, but a blip nonetheless.

And if we do this right, we will look back on this strange moment in history with a smile, thankful that we didn’t waste this extra time at home with our favorite people.

This is a gift, friends. Let’s treat it as such.