Know one reason why Mozart’s music is so appealing? He was a master of repetition and variation. Listen to the Turkish March below. You will hear a very few themes repeated numerous times. But! They are repeated in varying ways.

The implications of repetition and variation for managing working-from-home-while-teaching-from-home are tremendous.

You can get a gazillion activities online, and thank you to all those folks who are sharing such wonderful things. Having said that, the challenge is how to manage all that. Here’s a big picture approach:

Structure [REPETITION]

1. Make a week-day schedule that has time built in for major areas that call out, including self-care and play

2. Make a separate schedule for weekends.

3. BTW, if your children are capable, including them in schedule design aids in buy-in. Same goes for spouse or partner.

Mixing it Up [VARIATION]

1. The weekend schedule is the first point of variation–mix it up!

2. Even within the week-day schedule, find some way to vary the elements and activities. If you’re doing math at 10am daily and you’re using a tablet-based app, for example, find one day in there to do math a different way. Or, mix it up by having the “class” outside. Same time but different venue. If you’ve got some play time built in, play with the kids on occasion.

Caveats and Escape Routes

  1. This is going to last awhile, terminal point unknown: pace yourself.

2. You’re gonna screw up and go crazy; call your friend, your mom, your dad, your cousin, your whatever, and… VENT

3. If you fail to establish boundaries and set limits, you’re making a difficult job more difficult. This is especially true with your kids. YOU MUST SPEAK WITH CLARITY and STICK TO YOUR LIMITS!

4. Don’t let your frustration turn in to mean-spirited-ness. If you feel you are heading that way, ask to take a time out to collect yourself. Sit and breathe. Kids are amazingly forgiving.

5. Screen time is okay, but schedule it into the structure. Don’t let it be a default or go-to unless everything else has utterly failed.

Lastly, I’ll quote Audie Cornish: “Dave Eggers recent book is supernatural story for young readers about a boy who discovers that a dangerous force is literally feeding on the despair in his town and even threatens his family. It’s called ‘The Lifters.’ At one point, there’s a rallying cry from a leader in this effort – right? – to save the town, which I almost printed out to put over my desk, which said, The work ahead will tire us and will frustrate us, and victories will be brief and quickly reversed. Who among you is unwilling?

With this virus, we have no choice but to be willing; to be otherwise is to pretend. Yet, the work ahead will tire us and frustrate us, and victories will be brief and quickly reversed.

It is in the willingness to engage with these challenges head on that we will find some degree of salvation.

Much love and strength to you as you engage with the work ahead. May you be happy, may you be well, may you experience joy, and may you abide in wisdom