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A Positive Spin: What’s Going Well During Distance Learning

 

Tell us @tryverima or comment below the little blessings you’ve discovered during distance learning! 

As if the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t enough, we now have fires raging in California and hurricanes and storms hitting the East and South. I’ve been writing about some pretty heavy topics lately and after weeks of bad news, I thought we could all use something more upbeat.  As my kids settled into their first couple weeks of distance learning, I started to notice sweet moments throughout our days that I would jot down.  For this week I decided to take a moment to reflect and compile all the positives that have come out of our less than ideal conditions.  This is a great exercise for all of us and I encourage you to try it!  Or add on to this list in the comments.  Stay safe and stay well friends.  

 1.  Our mornings are MUCH calmer.  I no longer have to keep after the kids to get out the door on time.  Gone are the screams of, “Where’s my shoe?!”, “Put on sunblock!”, “Hurry and eat your breakfast!”, “Where’s my jacket?!?”, “Come on, let’s GO!!!!”  I know if the kids didn’t get a great breakfast, they’ll have a screen break in 45 minutes to eat a quick snack.  

2.  So long as they change out of their pajamas (per school rules) they are free to pick whatever outfit their hearts desire without my complaining of it being “too summery”, “too wintery”, “too small” or “too big”.  Tops and bottoms no longer need to match, and who even needs socks?

3.  They can fidget, giggle and talk to themselves as much as they need without disturbing the kids around them.  Mark my words, these teachers sure are going to miss the “MUTE” button when kiddos return to the physical classroom! 

 

4.  My little guy gets to cozy up next to his big sister during the all-school assembly.  

5.  I get to be a fly on the wall and hear all the magical conversations that happen in Kindergarten. 

 6.  I get to be a fly on the wall and listen to 10 year olds make sense of the world around them and discuss their emerging opinions about current events.   

7.  I know enough about middle schooler’s day to ask specific questions about the content he’s learning.  (As opposed to the usual, “What did you learn today?”/”Nothing.” conversation we used to have.  

 

8. My kids get to walk the dog together everyday during recess.  

 9.  I get to feed my kids a hot lunch everyday and enforce that veggies get eaten and not just lugged back home. 

10.  No more digging through the school’s lost and found bins and having to inevitably replace said lunch boxes, water bottles, jackets, sun-hats and backpacks. 

11.  No one has caught the sniffles, the stomach bug, pink-eye, lice or strep throat! 

12.  I have not been late to pick-up a single time yet! 

 

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The Plan for School? Flexibility.

Tell us @tryverima your plans for the school year.

Parents, teachers, administrators, immunologists, epidemiologists and doctors on both sides are hotly debating the need for children to be in school for in-person learning versus the safety of students and teachers and the risks to their health.  And like all hotly debated topics, it’s complicated and there is no one size fits all solution.  Last month, our school district announced the plan for hybrid learning at the elementary schools and distance learning for the middle and high schools. Last week, in response to the continuous rising cases of the virus, the state said, schools can not open unless the county’s case numbers stop rising for 14 consecutive days. Some parents were livid, some despaired, some relieved, but regardless, many jumped into a tizzy to form their own cohorts, pods, find teachers, tutors and nannies because however we managed to muddle through last spring; it is neither sustainable nor desirable

What we must understand is that zero risk of Covid-19 is not going to happen for a long while.  So the debate then becomes, how do we move forward by mitigating the risk of infection/illness to levels we deem acceptable? I live in the Bay Area of California right near the San Andreas Fault, which means we get earthquakes. But, we make sure our homes are reinforced to code, we have emergency kits ready, we practice earthquake drills at schools and home, and it is a risk we accept. East coasters are all too familiar with the damage they face every year with hurricane season. We all take risks daily when we get in our cars, play sports, eat sushi or a medium-rare steak.  But we take the necessary precautions to lessen those risks to levels where we feel comfortable. A dive joint’s sushi menu or football without a helmet are not good ideas.  And neither is opening up schools when cases are surging. But let’s be clear, teachers are essential workers and similar to our frontline workers in hospitals, grocery stores and factories and plants, we need them to take on an acceptable amount of risk. 

Source: New York Times

If a region’s numbers are low and stable, and schools are making the necessary accommodations to limit class sizes, form cohorts, increase ventilation/move classes outside, etc. Then yes, let’s give our children what they need.  The key here is flexibility.  We need to have a Plan A, B,C and D.  And we need to manage our expectations that moving from Plan A to B,C or D WILL happen and that’s to be expected and it is okay.  In other words, the plan is to be okay with changing the plan.  We know all too well cases can surge within a couple weeks, and cases can also flatten and come down.  We know that what is happening in LA is not what is happening in Omaha.  We know in the Bay Area the numbers surged, then flattened, then decreased then surged. . . . If we know the plan is to shift, then we don’t feel disappointment when we have to shift.  Our plans and expectations won’t come crashing down as schools switch from full-time to hybrid to distance and back to hybrid. 

 

Similarly, we need to adjust our expectations for the length of time we will be on this roller coaster of change.  People will wait patiently if they know how long they have to wait.  It is the “indefinite” part that drives us nuts.  We may gladly wait 30 minutes to eat at our favorite restaurant (pre-Covid), but if the host just shrugged and said, “I have no idea. . . hopefully 5 minutes, but maybe not at all tonight, “ then we would grow increasingly impatient as each minute past the 5 minute-mark ticked by, and most of us would probably not wait at all.  If we thought this pandemic would be over and done with in a few months, we would be sorely disappointed and rightfully fatigued by now.  We pace ourselves differently if we’re running a 5K versus a marathon. Where many moms I spoke with are struggling is with the indefiniteness of the current norm.  It’s the not knowing for how much longer we need to be attempting to be successful at the impossible. The best we can do is going to have to be good enough.  And the best we can do is to have several plans, be flexible enough to shift those plans and take each day as it comes.  

We all know by now the importance of teaching our children the buzzwords of “grit”, “perseverance” and “resilience”. Well, here it is the (albeit unsolicited) real-world, months-long, teachable moment to model and talk about all these qualities as we model them for our children.  And while we’re at it, let’s add “flexibility” to our list.  It’s not going to be easy, but we never thought it would be, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Be smart, stay safe, wear a mask and plan to change the plan.  

Read more at http://www.tryverima.com

 

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Returning to Normal: But What IS Normal?

 

Tell us @tryverima the calculated risks you’ve deemed acceptable. 

Throughout the past few months, the world has been shaken. We have had our lives, our normalcy, our routines, challenged and altered forever. On a global scale, we have all been affected by the Coronavirus to some degree, and many refer to this time period as “The Great Pause”. Because that is exactly what it has been: a huge pause. Schools have been cancelled, businesses have been closed, parks have tape across them preventing little ones from playing, and we have stayed inside our homes in an attempt to avoid catching this deadly virus. When we do have to go out, we protect ourselves and others by keeping our distance, wearing a mask, and washing our hands regularly.

 

In some parts of the world, this pause has been helping somewhat, and the curve is slowly flattening. The number of cases is decreasing, and people are starting to talk about returning to life as normal. Parks are being reopened, businesses are slowly starting to accept customers through their doors again. Social distancing restrictions are being lifted, and people are allowed to see their friends and family members again.

Along with the good news of restrictions being lifted, however, is news that in some parts of the world cases of the virus continue to increase. There is talk of a second wave hitting us, or a bubble in a bubble as some would argue;  however the lack of visibility makes future planning murky at best. It is concerning that as some restrictions are lifted, we are seeing an increase in the number of cases.

So, what does all this mean? If we are returning to life as normal, what does that normal look like? Is it safe to return to such a state? Is it realistic to expect that we will ever return to what we consider to be ‘normal’? 

 

What is important to remember during this time is that everyone will have a different level of comfort and a different perspective on what normal looks like for them. Perhaps some of us are more comfortable remaining socially distanced until that curve is flattened even more. Perhaps some of us are sick of remaining inside our homes and for the sake of mental health, welcome the loosening of restrictions.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are all dealing with it in different ways and with different perspectives, and it is important that we are respectful of that. We need to be mindful of the fact that how we are approaching this pandemic may be different than someone else, and that’s ok. You do you. 

Some people will not leave their homes without wearing a mask, while others use masks only when indoors in public spaces.  Still others may have underlying health  or sensory issues which make masks unfeasible. Let’s reserve our judgement. We don’t know everyone’s full story, and we don’t know their reasoning for doing, or not doing, something. We need to be open-minded and continue on with love and kindness in our hearts. 

For those of us who are fortunate to be able to work from home, we have some freedom in choosing what works best for our family, what our level of comfort is when going out in public, and whether or not we choose to take our kids out into the community. For working parents, there isn’t always that level of freedom. Parents who work outside the home may need to take advantage of daycares opening back up, so that they are able to return to work and earn an income. Not to mention the children of essential workers also need childcare. We simply are not in a position to judge as we are not walking in their shoes. 

Additionally, many of us are caring for aging parents, and a lot of the time those parents are battling health issues that leave them immunocompromised and vulnerable to this virus. We need to take extra precaution when out in public, as well as limit how much we are around other people, while adhering to strict social distancing boundaries until this virus is eradicated. We don’t have the freedom to take advantage of restrictions loosening, because there is a loved one who could be inadvertently and fatally affected by such decisions.  

 

The arguments that have arisen in school districts about reopening plans have been heated at best.  But how does a school district accommodate every parent’s levels of risk tolerance?  And what about the risks to the teachers and their families? There is no one answer or plan that fits all, but please let’s stay respectful of the fact that we are all trying our best with the resources we have.  Some parents are desperate to send their kids to school but an immunocompromised member of the household makes that unfeasible.  Some children themselves are immunocompromised.  Meanwhile the mental health of other children is suffering and they crave live social interaction and learning. Other parents need to return to work and simply cannot homeschool their children for hours everyday. 

Throughout all of this, it is so important that we remember that everyone’s situation is completely different, and we don’t always know the full story. When you see a mother in the store with her children, instead of judging her for bringing her children, recognize that perhaps she is a single mother with no other alternative. Instead of giving her a dirty look and making her feel even worse, offer a smile and a kind word. When you see someone in mask and gloves, recognize that perhaps they are immunocompromised or caring for someone who is, and respectfully keep your distance.

Everyone is dealing with this pandemic to the best of their ability, and everyone is coping with stresses that we know nothing about. Reserve judgement, proceed with kindness in your heart, and focus on yourself and what you need to do for your family. 

We will get through this together, and one day we will return to normal, whatever that normal may be.

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Protests Sweep the Nation: How to Talk to Your Kids

Tell us @tryverima the conversations you’re having with your children. 

We can not ignore the protests and riots in cities across our nation, and naturally our kids are going to have a lot of questions. While it may be easier to brush this daunting conversation to the side, especially if the ramifications don’t immediately affect our daily lives, now is the precise opportunity to have deep and meaningful conversations with your children.  This infographic created by The Children’s Community School links the sociological studies to different phases of childhood. These studies indicate that children are ready to listen to race conversations at ages younger than we would think. 


Now that we know we can (and should) talk to our kids about race, the question becomes how? 

We come in many colors

First, we should acknowledge that people come in all different sizes, shapes and colors. To say “I don’t see color” or “skin color is not a factor” is in fact hurting the conversation. Janice Gassam in an article in Forbes wrote, “The goal is actually to see and recognize skin color but to control and regulate your innate impulse to make decisions based on such characteristics. Being able to first recognize this is critical. “

Talk to your children about the entire spectrum of people living in the world. And acknowledge and celebrate their differences. Theeverymom.com has compiled this amazing list of children’s books that celebrate diversity. 

Protests bring change

Secondly, explain to children that protests are not a negative, but rather a powerful tool and right we have as citizens. Give them the historical context that our country’s (USA) first steps towards independence and liberty started with colonists protesting against King George’s rule. 

Lucy Calkins from Teacher’s College of Columbia University recently wrote an extremely helpful essay that suggests how we could start by explaining that George Floyd’s death is the latest in a line of unwarranted deaths for people of color. The conversation can then delve further into how and why these protests have sometimes turned violent or morphed into riots.  Calkin continues to say,  “students need to know that this recent death occurs against a backdrop in which unemployment and COVID-19 both, are disproportionately tearing apart the lives of Black and Brown people. So these accumulated grievances combined have brought us to this moment. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us long ago, ‘A riot is the language of the unheard.’ “

A Nation of upstanders

Lastly, empower your children to change their bystander status to that of upstander. To be someone who recognizes the injustices and possesses the empathy and the bravery to be a catalyst for change. This is a perfect time to reinforce your family’s values and model for your children that, “we speak up when something is wrong. “ 

To quote one of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. “

It’s up to us mamas. Let’s instill respect and love for humanity in our children, and let’s start today. 


Learn more at www.tryverima.com

 

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Sleep in Midst of a Pandemic

Tag @tryverima and share how you have been sleeping.

It’s 1:27 AM. The house is silent (finally!) and though you are exhausted, you wonder to yourself if you will ever sleep tonight. You didn’t last night, and hardly at all the night before that, except for perhaps a few groggy hours of muddled sleep around 5:00 AM, a mere hour or two before your littles were up and raring to go for the day. This is becoming a regular pattern for you, especially since the start of the pandemic, so you give up sleeping for now and turn on your light to read and get your mind off the 101 thoughts racing through your head. 

Sleep deprivation, insomnia, anxiety, and depression are being recognized in more and more women these days, and society has begun to take note. There have been countless articles recently that have brought to light the imbalance in parenting, and the unfair expectations put upon women these days. Women carry the brunt of the mental load in most households, and that responsibility is absolutely exhausting, especially when combined with managing a career as well. All this has only been magnified as we shelter at home and add homeschooling/full time childcare to the mix.  Rachel Garlinghouse shared her struggles during the shelter at home on ScaryMommy.  It’s no wonder many women are developing anxiety or depression, and turning to sleep aids to help them get the rest they so desperately need.

 

In an attempt to get a decent night’s sleep, some women turn to prescription medications. These medications however often come with their own side effects that can leave people feeling groggy, “hungover”, and sometimes even more tired. This continuous cycle of sleep deprivation is all part of the problem, and it is perpetuating this struggle that women are facing.  Women who are dealing with sleep issues like anxiety and insomnia need a natural sleep aid that helps them get a decent night’s sleep and which doesn’t come with a whole host of side effects. Hayley MacMillan wrote about her experiences with sleep aids and how CBD is her tactic of choice

Luckily, there is more and more evidence each day that points to CBD oil as being a safe, natural, effective treatment for sleep disorders. While we await definitive clinical trials studying the specific effects of CBD on sleep, there has been significant anecdotal results from many patients who have noticed a stark increase in their sleep quality after starting to take CBD oil. Some physicians, who are in support of using CBD oil felt that while CBD could in fact be helping their patients to sleep better, they also considered that CBD is also treating other symptoms that were hindering their patients’ sleep, like anxiety or Restless Leg Syndrome. 

Oftentimes, the mental load that women carry tends to ramp up into overdrive at night when we’re supposed to be resting. We’re checking that endless to-do list, wondering if we forgot anything important, making a mental note of the kids’ Zoom times, thinking about what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner, worrying about a work deadline and staying employed.  We are desperately trying to sustain the unsustainable for an undefined amount of time.  It is often in the evening once the others are asleep and we can finally think, when anxiety creeps up and launches into high gear. By finding something that can treat the anxiety, then the sleep will naturally follow, assuming there are no other underlying conditions preventing a decent night’s sleep.

CBD can also aid in balancing sleep cycles, help your muscles to relax, and even lessen chronic pain that may be contributing to a restless sleep. It is important to find the dosage that works best for you, as people will react to different amounts in completely different ways. The trick is to start low and go slow; start with a small dose of our high-quality broad-spectrum CBD tincture in the early evening. Squeeze the contents of the dropper under your tongue and let the liquid absorb through the membrane for as long as comfortable (preferably a minute or so) before swallowing.  See how it makes you feel and how it helps you sleep. If you don’t find it helping enough, try increasing the dose. For some they will feel the effects that day, for others, the CBD needs to build up in their systems before any differences are noted.  

We’re all juggling a lot right now and we deserve at the basic level to be functioning on all cylinders which only can come after a solid night’s sleep. Sleep well, Mama, you deserve it. 

Learn more at www.tryverima.com



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International Day of Families

Happy International Day of Families!

Tag @tryverima with your favorite international dish!

In 1993 the United Nations designated May 15 as The International Day of Families. According to the UN’s website, the day was designated in order to “provide an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families. “ 

This year for International Day of Families, the UN recognizes the hardship the Covid 19 pandemic has placed on families worldwide as it is the family that endures the greatest impact of this health crisis. 2020’s theme of “Families in Development” highlights the goals of the 25 year old Beijing Declaration which was adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The document highlights the eminence of supporting women globally to ensure social and economic stability in the family unit. 

So this Friday May 15th, here are some things we can do to observe this day with our families. 

Learn about a new culture
Exposing children to new faces, languages, cultures and traditions plays an important role in developing empathetic, open minded people. Have your children pick an unfamiliar area on the map and learn about life for the citizens and families . A simple google search of the country will tell you what languages are spoken, foods are eaten and what traditional clothing looks like. This is an exercise that can be extended through the year giving children a greater sense of our global community. If you want extra support or guidance, companies like Little Global Citizens offers subscription boxes that can help you navigate. 

Plan a socially distanced picnic
Gather three families and ask each one to take on either an appetizer an entree or a dessert from different cultures.  Drop your contribution off at the other homes and then voila each of the families has a multicultural meal all set. Pack it up, and head to the backyard for a picnic. You can enjoy Korean potstickers, Moroccan couscous and Greek Baklava in one day. Check out Epicurious’ site for KID FRIENDLY recipes from around the world! 

Reflect
Have a conversation with your brood on what family means to you. All families are different and not all families are related by blood. So beyond biology, what are the elements that make a family, and what do those things mean to you? 

 

Enjoy a cultural experience together

Now more than ever, museums, dance companies and musical groups are opening their doors and posting their content online for you to enjoy.  The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) has developed #MetKids which had a great interactive map that allows kids to see pieces of art over 5,000 years across the entire globe. The Louvre has several amazing virtual tours including The Body in Movement and Ancient Egypt. Last month, International Dance Day had an online celebration where dancers from all over the globe posted choreography while sheltering at home.  An amazing presentation of art, culture and human resilience. 

Volunteer to help families
Granted we are homebound for the most part right now, but that shouldn’t stop us from finding opportunities to give back.  The UN has developed a site for virtual volunteer work around the globe. Sites like Volunteer Match have thousands of global opportunities,  many of them virtual and quite a few are COVID specific.

Regardless of what you choose to do for International Day of Families, we can all recognize the importance of the family unit and the focus, support, and celebration it deserves. From our family to yours, stay safe and enjoy each other.

Tag #tryverima with your favorite international dish!