5 Tips For Not Losing Your Cool During Distance Learning

How one woman creates calm amid a busier-than-usual family schedule.

By Jay Miranda

When my kid's school closed in the spring and we were presented with distance learning plans, I knew she needed me more than ever. I dove into research, bought books and art supplies, and our homeschool journey began.

Now with the beginning of a new school year, I'm teaching ancient history after breakfast and learning Latin with my second-grader. It's working well, but these are stressful times for everyone — and for moms especially, distance learning (or e-learning) has meant a lot more work on top everything else we do. One thing was clear to me though: However I chose to handle the present challenges would frame how my daughter handled them too.

With that mindset, I've made it a priority to keep my cool throughout our at-home learning experience, and a few things have helped me immensely: staying organized, rethinking how I approach stressful situations, and learning to take care of myself during this busier-than-usual schedule. Looking for your own ways to stay calm and organized throughout this school year? Here are five tips to keep in mind:

1. Adjust Your Expectations

Everyone is adjusting expectations and deserves a little grace this year, yourself included. Virtual school is complex, so we know some things will go awry: The school will have tech problems, your internet might be spotty, emails will be missed. But adjusting your expectations and anticipating that a certain number of things will go wrong will help you fare better than believing everything needs to go right all the time. Framing it this way for our kids can help them better handle their emotions, too.

2. Think Big Picture

Ask the teacher for a list of learning goals for the first semester of distance learning. It might be a group of concepts or something more specific, but whatever those goals may be, you'll get a better sense of the school year's direction when you think in broader timeframes. Looking ahead also helps you find teaching moments throughout your day (“Hey, 'ice cream' has both the 's' and 'k' phonogram sounds of 'c,' doesn't it?"). And don't forget: Kids can have a bad day, but still have a great week — and a tough day doesn't feel so bad when you're thinking about the big picture.

3. Take Care Of Yourself
Courtesy of Jay Miranda

I don't have a lot of “me time.” The trails I used to hike have been off limits. The yoga studio is closed. I can't even enjoy a leisurely walk around the store anymore! Sometimes I feel like I'm carrying the whole day right at the intersection of my neck and shoulders. Stretching helps, but I learned that a magnesium supplement is another great way to help relax muscles and release tension.

The first time I used half teaspoon of Natural Vitality CALM® in my cup of water, it only took a few minutes before I felt like I was wrapped in a soft glow. That tight feeling around my shoulders softened, and now drinking a bit of CALM has been a nice way to transition into the post-kids-bedtime part of the evening. You should look for similar ways to prioritize your own wellbeing throughout the day. Take a hot shower. Get into a comfy robe. Grab a book, and even if you just read a few paragraphs, it's better than spending the night doomscrolling social media.

4. Give Each Kid Supplies & Passwords For The Week

Having all the website and app passwords taped nearby helps when you're trying to log back into something, but it's also smart to spend 10 minutes on Sunday gathering supplies for the week and noting any unusual materials you might need to track down. Using binders, a cubby, or baskets to keep the supplies handy will help you from feeling frazzled before you've even had your morning coffee.

5. Get The Support You Need

If distance learning isn't working for your family, the first thing to do is email the principal to find out about any alternatives that might be feasible. Does your school district offer an independent study program in lieu of virtual instruction? Families who want more freedom might look into homeschooling outside of the district for rest of the year. It may sound drastic, but for some it can be a really productive option.

No matter which option you choose, there's a community of parents right alongside you — and together we can all cultivate a community of helpfulness and calm.

This post is sponsored by Natural Vitality CALM®.