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Hi and welcome to Coffee and Pearls, 15 minutes of wisdom for Catholic moms. I’m Sterling Jaquith and today I want to talk about having fun and being focused. Two totally separate things, but they both started with F so I thought I would throw them together in the same episode. So first up we have a got to have some fun right now. Okay. There is a weird energy everywhere and we’re all kind of staring into this black box of not knowing what’s coming. And it’s weird. It’s weird to be like, “Are we having a summer? What’s happening? Am I ever going to see anyone? It’s going to feel even more eerie when we don’t get together for Easter. I predict that a lot of us who are holding it together are not going to hold it together. That and not that I’m holding it together, I experience the full spectrum of my feelings every day.

So it just depends on which hour you catch me. But I just, it is so easy to go down the rabbit hole on this. You guys, what’s going to happen? Is my business going to survive? The kids are driving me nuts. I can’t stop staring at the news like a train wreck. So easy. And I really just want you to take a step back and think about some fun things that you can do with your family, whether you have, you know, it’s just you and your spouse and your kids are gone, whether you have little kids, big kids, and when we should be able to have fun and be silly and maybe silliness is really the word because even sometimes grown up grown ups will do, you know, air quotes, fun things that aren’t really silly and it won’t accomplish the same thing. We want to change things up, really disrupt our routines and do some silly things.

And I would encourage you to do, you know, just one silly thing a day or to have one really silly day a week. Just depends on what you’ve got going on for which one of those strategies would work. So I want to share a few strategies with you. And then I would love, I’m going to put a Facebook thread up and I would love to hear other people’s strategies for super fun things that they’re doing. So the first group of things I’m going to suggest are things related to school. A lot of you have suddenly found yourselves doing school at home and I just want to say welcome to the rebellion. I love homeschooling. I love getting to do what I want. And I just have to say for all of you who are doing public school or private school at home, you are not homeschooling because someone’s telling you what to do.

And you can’t not do it if you don’t feel like it. But I’m here to tell you that you can, you can just not do it. Here’s the thing. Everybody in the whole country is living a weird life right now. Every single child is going to get a hard reset at school in the fall, right? The kids who did absolutely nothing for this last six months are going to be sitting next to the kids whose moms like freaked out and hyper controlled every moment of their kid’s life to do all of the assignments other than high schoolers. Guys, you just don’t need to do it. You don’t. You can also just message your teacher and say, Hey, we’re going to do what we feel like doing, but it’s not going to be all this stuff and you’re going to tell the kids, Hey, this is a weird time and I want to spend it with you.

I don’t care what the grades are this year. We’re not even gonna look at them when they come out, okay? Now again, that’s totally up to you, but I just want you to know that it is possible and it’s not a bad thing, right? Your kids are going to look back and remember this time you get to decide what they remember, right? Are they gonna remember you losing it and freaking out and yelling at them to do their math worksheets? Or are they going to remember that you did some of the fun things that I’m talking about and you could have a little bit of both. You don’t have to, you know, go off the rails completely, but find a balance and put it all into perspective. I mean this just isn’t, the school stuff is just not, it’s a blip. This is not anything to do with who these kids are going to be when they grow up.

They are not going to get in trouble for doing none of this stuff. They really just aren’t. Okay. So take a deep breath and recognize that you have a lot of flexibility here and these kids are watching you to see how you’re responding. So these are some ideas that got posted in my homeschooling group around February. February is usually a homeschooling burnout month because the weather’s kind of crummy and we’re all still like in a holiday hangover. And so it’s hard to get everybody like excited and up for doing school. So here are just a couple ideas that got thrown around that group that I thought were really clever. One of them was to declare a challenge day. And so you kinda throw out whatever regular routine you have and you say, okay, I challenge you to complete as many lessons as possible and maybe you could have a couple of prizes and then you can sit them down on one of the, you know, learning apps that they have or I’m not sure what they’re sending you guys home with.

So I, I just know the learning apps, like math seeds or reading eggs or Khan Academy or I, there’s just so many out there and you just challenged them to do as many as they can and they can earn tickets or points and then they can use those to purchase a prize or a treat. I’ve seen the, the tickets are points thing in so many different strategies on Facebook and I think it’s so clever or monopoly money, like, Hey, when you do these things, you get monopoly money and then you can use the monopoly money to buy screen-time or snacks. Love that idea. So great. We’re not doing that, but I think it’s a great idea. But I guess we’re just kind of living our regular life night now to be honest. Next to have a drop date, right? Just like wake them up and be like, we’re not doing any school today.

Right. And again, your school is going to forgive you for that. It’s not going to be, there’s going to be no repercussions for that probably. I don’t want to say that for sure cause I don’t really know for sure, but I’m pretty competent that everybody’s just going to go to school at the next grade up starting in the fall. No matter what you do right now. Okay, so a drop day, no school, everyone can just read or listen to audio books. You can get a pizza. We can still do that, I think or make something fun. But here’s the trick. If there’s any fighting or complaining, those kids get to do school. Okay. Love that drop day. Just get to hang out and read and play games. I would add play games to that, but no fighting or complaining or you’re going to have to do school next game day.

Super awesome. Just do board games all day. Love it. Next one, I thought this was super cute. This mom puts a costume on and does school as like some sort of costumes person and she said she’s done it, you know which style, what was that great book where the substitute dresses up like a witch. But it’s really just, it’s really just a teacher. Gosh, I can picture it, but I can’t think of the name. You know what I’m talking about? Cause we all read it when we were growing up. So she said sometimes she does like a witch or Mary Poppins or just a fun character. I bet you could do like an Elsa thing and talk in a different voice. And I just think that’s so fun. Like just mom dressing up in a costume to do school. And again, we’re just trying to change things up a little bit and be present with the kids because if you did that, you’re just going to give yourself over to the silliness of it too.

And this is for your heart too, not just theirs. Okay, next one. Get a jar of candy. Like M and ms and tell them that at the end of the day the kids can split all of the M and M’s, but every time that someone is off track from doing their school or fighting, you go eat the candy. I think that’s amazing. I love when kids police themselves. I love, I mean I know how to say it like this and I love pitting them against each other and just like getting them to, to keep each other happy. We do that with potty training kind of in a positive way when more potty training someone, everyone gets an M and M when they go potty on the potty. And so they’re like his, when we did it last time, violet sisters were like, you can do it. Do you have to go potty? Let’s try all stand here with you.

Like it just felt like the whole family was potty training and it was amazing and I love it. So I could see, you know, doing that for school as well. Next one was to challenge the kids so that they’re working against you. So you say like, okay, I can do this. Let’s say like I’m going to try to fold the laundry faster than you can pick up all of the toys off the floor. Right. Or I can do the dishes faster than you can do your math worksheet, right. Just pick two things. Something you’re doing in something they’re doing and pit them against each other to think is just so clever. For those of you that don’t have school aged kids and you have toddlers do follow at busy toddler on Instagram, that lady is a genius. I love so many of her ideas and they’re just a lot of almost free or really cheap things that you have in your house that you then just give to your little kids to do something with it.

Some of them are not messy and some of them are messy. Like yesterday she posted painting trash so great and she just like pulled all this stuff out of the trash or the recycling put a huge drop cloth down. I love that she did it on the floor. These like three year olds and two year olds were just on the floor with paint and paint brushes and trash and they were just painting them and it didn’t look that crazy cause they were on a drop cloth. And so I think I might try that. She just gives me confidence to try things that I wouldn’t try normally. But she’s got a lot of things with stickers and tape that aren’t actually messy and that are fabulous. So at busy toddler I’ve been noticing the stained glass window thing go around Facebook a lot where you take blue painter’s tape and you tape it in some interesting geometric patterns with a cross in the middle on your window and then the kids paint in between the blue painter’s tape.

So cool. So easy and just a wonderful thing I think especially for Easter as people are walking around, I think we want to make it part of our Easter tradition every year. What else have I done? Seeing the, the money thing has been big. Like, Hey, if you do your schoolwork or your reading or your chores, you get this, you know, fake money and then you can spend it, you know, on snacks or screen time later. I, we’ve been playing a lot of board games with the kids. I’ve always wanted to be more of a board game family, but the, the truth is I mostly just play with my husband, but I’ve really been enjoying doing that with our kids. We made muffins the other day. Guys, let me be honest. I have never baked anything from scratch. Okay. I can cook a lot of things, but I’m not much of a Baker.

I don’t enjoy it. And I knew that you could take flour and stuff and make other stuff, but I just have never done it. I’ve always bought like a mix or a box and just added eggs or whatever they asked me to do. And so I actually Googled muffin recipe and made muffins from scratch for the first time ever with Greek yogurt. It was awesome. I did not do that with the kids less. Do you think that it was some sort of romantic family thing? It was not. I was like, you guys considered the table and watch me from six feet away. Well and make your muffins because it was already enough for me to do something new. I was not willing to do that with any number of my children who always make a mess on cooking with me. So there’s a balance to sanity and everything that we’re doing.

But it was fun. And then, you know, we just ate the muffins and read some poetry, do read out loud to them and sometimes that’s incredibly frustrating. That’s totally normal. Okay. Sometimes they sit down and everyone just talks and it drives me bananas. But I just keep reading cause if they’re not doing it and eventually they do settle down. So just push through. Unless it’s an 18 month old and he’s tired, then just put them in an app. That’s what we did the last time. All right, so that’s your fun stuff. Have fun with your kids. And now I want to just read something that was posted. It was so fantastic. This was from a psychologist in New York and he basically is saying like, as he’s giving all of this advice to all of his clients, he thought, you know, man, I should just type it up.

So we did. So I’m just going to give you a snapshot of the ideas. He wrote them out in paragraphs, but I’m not going to do that to you. But I think most of them are pretty obvious. Okay, number one. So this is ways to stay focused. You guys, and you can couple this with the fun stuff, but this is for your sanity, right? Your sanity stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time and write up schedule, even if it’s just blocks. Okay? Number two, dress for the social life you want. I love this. Get showered, dressed in comfortable clothes. Brush your teeth. Okay, put on some bright colors. I love this, you know, get out of those leggings and your sweatshirts. And I say that as I’m wearing leggings and a sweatshirt right now. True fact number three, get out at least one once a day for 30 minutes.

You know, this feels harder. I’d been walking around the block one, it’s nice out, but I haven’t been getting in the car and going anywhere. So maybe this is for people who are stuck in an apartment. I don’t feel the need to do that as much. Number four, find some time to move each day. Ideally for at least 30 minutes. Absolutely. Dance, party, workout. Move your body number five, reached out to others again at least 30 minutes. Facetime, Skype, phone calls, texting. Just do it. The other day I was wondering about one of my friends and I thought, I dunno how she’s doing. I wonder why she’s not texting me. And then I was like, you goober. Why haven’t you texted her? Like, just do it. To just do it. Email people messaged them, they’re lonely and bored and then don’t just talk about virus stuff. Talk about other stuff. Number six, stay hydrated and eat well. Totally makes sense. Number seven, this is great. I mentioned doing this for people in chronic pain, but it’s great for right now. Develop a self care toolkit. Okay. Something that for each of the seven senses. And so maybe like a candle or a soft blanket or you know, essential oils, a diffuser. But one of them was bubbles or a journal gum,

All of these things so that you can kind of take it out and just calm yourself down or calm children down. And I just self care toolkit, love it, spend extra time playing with the kids. He says kids will rarely communicate how they are feeling, but they will often make a bid for attention and communication through play. So play with them. And it’s, it’s true. I think then you’ll find that that’s when they start mentioning, Oh, I really miss my grandma or it’s weird that I can’t see my friends. And so just give them that time. Next one, give everyone the benefit of the doubt and a wide berth. Totally. This is like what we said in one of the previous episodes where I said, you know, just apologize to your spouse for what you said while you were isolated. Okay, we’re all going a little bit crazy.

Apologize often and give people the benefit of the doubt. Number 10 find your own retreat space and make sure everybody has that. Maybe a four for the kids, a beanbag, you know, corner in a room or an office. Make sure that people have spaces to go to be alone. Number 11 expect behavioral issues in children and respond gently. Totally. You guys. Totally. I’ve had to explain that to my husband a few times like, Hey, we’re all being weird right now. Don’t expect the kids to be handling it better than we are. Okay. Number 12 focus on safety and attachment. Okay, so he says, right now we’re kind of going on with the work deadlines and the schooling stuff and we’re trying to figure it all out and keep the house kind of sterile and so we feel like we have to meet all of these expectations, but he says, Hey, you probably don’t like loosen that a little bit and focus on staying connected with those people instead. Okay. Maybe not instead, but just remember to focus on attachment instead of necessarily deadlines. Okay. Lower expectations. And practice. Radical self acceptance. Radical self acceptance is so important. So many books I read on happiness. Talk about loving ourselves. Okay. And just being so gentle with ourselves. So please do that. Number 14 limit social media and coven conversation, especially around children. So true. Stop scrolling. Stop complaining.

I dunno. I mean I think it’s important to share it. Like I have a friend who has a business like we do and we talk about our strategies for our business, but it feels really productive. It doesn’t feel panicky. Right? So we just say like, Hey, what are we doing right now? Have you talked to your CPA? What’s going on with your employees? Like that kind of stuff. And that feels really good to me cause it feels like I’m doing something. But what I don’t do is like break down and cry and say, I don’t know what’s going to happen over the summer, you know, because I, I just can’t, I can’t live like that. Number 15 notice the good in the world. The helpers. Totally. Thank you Mr. Rogers for this. And there are so many. Number 16 help others. We had set aside some money for lent and so we decided to give some cash anonymously to some people who had lost their jobs.

And so, you know, even small gift cards can make a huge difference to people that you know, that have lost their job. And of course you can’t financially support them. That’s not the point. The point is to say, I see you and I want to help you with something like gas or food so that you feel a little more calm pain. They just need to be seen. Number 17, I love this. Find something you can control and control the heck out of it. I love that he says, organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, you know, put some furniture together, whatever. Just find some order in the chaos. Number 18 find a longterm project to dive into. And he was talking about like a jigsaw puzzle or you know, a 15 hour game of risk. Oh my gosh, that would be terrible to me. But do that.

Or he says an eight season show, you know, Rubik’s cube, things like that. Crochet blanket number 19, engage in repetitive movements and right left movements. Research has shown that repetitive movements, especially right left movements can be effective. It’s self soothing. This is totally an EMDR thing. Which people use during trauma. So using your right hand, left hand, looking from right to left with your eyes. So he mentions drumming, skating, hopping, but also repetitive movement. Things like knitting, coloring, painting. He says jumper opening, but I can’t picture myself doing that right now. Number 20, find an expressive art and go for it. Totally. Number 21 find lightness and humor in each day. I think that speaks for itself. I will say I love the comedy standup on dry bar comedy. And if you just go to Facebook and look up dry bar comedy, you can see tons of the acts for free and they’re just basically clean comedians who don’t swear or talk about bad things and they’re just hilarious. Number 20, to reach out for help you have more people who love you than you think. Reach out for help.

We’re almost sending you guys number 23, chunk your corn team time. Okay. You don’t need to know what’s happening tomorrow or next week. None of us do. That’s totally fine. Just stare today’s, this is Saturday when I’m recording this. What a weird Saturday. We, my husband and I were like, I dunno, what do you want to do? So we did, we organized our vitamins and our medicines because we were still kind of doing that in our new house. But I think anyone can do that at any time. And then I’m doing a little bit of work and then I’m going to go for a walk and then he’s going to go for a walk. And so we, we created a little bit of structure for today, but it’s fine that we didn’t know that we were going to do that yesterday and I have no idea what we’re going to do for the next seven days.

24. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. Okay. This is temporary. Don’t be the guy who was in the prisoner of war camp that said, you know, Hey, we’re going to get out by Christmas. We are in this for a long time, but we will get out, okay and we’re going to go back to being happy and hugging each other and going to mass together and all of those things. We’re not sure how long, but it will happen and this I promise you is going to make us stronger. Okay, so much fruit is going to come out of this. I see that. I see God’s fingerprints on so many different things. Number 25 find the lesson, okay?

I know that crisis crises can seem pointless and it’s often that we look at God and we see why God, why is this happening? Okay, but there is always something we can learn. Find your own agency in the situation. Agency means you know what you can control and you can control your attitude and looking for things to learn in this time. Write them down, okay, how is this going to make us a better country, community, world group of Catholics, moms, parents, spouses. Find lessons in all of this. Lastly, I wanted to mention, we totally hit our $2,400 goal for raising money for coffee and pearls. I will definitely be podcasting for one more year. Thank you. I’m also going to be working on putting together another Bible study series like James and Abola cause a lot of you have been asking me for that. What I’m not sure about is if I release it soon, how would we do it? You know, because I, I really created it to purposely get people together in their homes. So I’m just not sure how we would do it and maybe I’ll design it the same way, but we’ll come up with some clever strategies for doing it online or via zoom or what’s that app? I love Voxer. So I love you guys. We’re doing it. You’re going to be okay. Hug those kids, hug your husband, hug yourself, and tell you you’re a rock star. You are a rock star.

It’s going to be okay. Thank you so much for listening to coffee and pearls and have a blessed day.