Life is Messy – Sort it out – No one signed up for this!

I play games on my phone. I feel like there should be group therapy for those of us who play Candy Crush. Hi. I’m Renee. I play Candy Crush Soda, Candy Crush Jelly, and Candy Crush Friends. I have a problem! No, really, why do we do this? To accomplish something. Well, I got absolutely nothing done today, but I passed 11 levels in Candy Crush! For those of us who put “Create a to-do list” on a to-do list just to be able to check off #1, we just need to be able to say we finished something.

I have started playing a new game: Sort it – 3D. It’s the perfect game for people who have a place for everything and must have everything in it’s place. Some people make piles of things… I sort the piles. I like files, binders, containers. Keep things organized! This game encourages those with the organizational gene. Put the balls away… clean up the mess.

What a mess!

Moving those colorful balls around to put them into the cylinders with their matching colors makes my heart happy.

The more I played this game on my brain breaks between my work-at-home tasks, the more I saw it as a metaphor for life right now.

My husband and I are living with my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter temporarily while we build a new home. When the work-at-home directive was put into place, we all needed to find space in the house to work. Amanda works in the dining room; Marcus works upstairs in his man cave, and I work in Emma’s room. Tom works at the bank 2-3 days a week, and we all juggle the two-year-old. I teach at three colleges, co-operate a wedding management business, manage the box office for a local theatre, and do copy writing on the side. I have many balls in the air to juggle… so to speak.

Before our remote working and learning experiment began, the details of our lives were compartmentalized. Mentors and counselors would advise their clients to “leave the work at work.” When you are home, focus on your life/family. When your work IS at home, that advice really just goes out the proverbial window.

Many companies had resisted a remote work option for their employees. Employers believed that employees couldn’t get the job done unless they were attached to their desks and required to be in the office for a set number of hours every day. Studies have shown that employees can be so disengaged at work that they may as well not even be there. Now employers are forced to trust their employees to get the job done at home.

But it can get messy. You spend time working then put in a load of laundry. Work. Play outside with your kids. Work. Make lunch for the family. Work. Call your mother. Working at home can be productive or distracting, enjoyable or frustrating, but it is definitely messy.

Those of us who have gone to school while working and raising a family had a bit of experience in the juggling act. Time management is important while leaving enough margin to be able to act on a work idea while having dinner or coloring a picture with your five year old at 11am. We need to have a mind shift from spending a number of hours “at work” to accomplishing our work no matter where we are.

Can everyone work like this? No. Can every business survive with employees working remotely? Of course not. We just need to learn how to be more flexible.

What about school? How can we do this “distance learning” forever? It’s such a hot mess! Yep, it is, but please do not judge true e-learning by the band-aid on-line classes going on right now. As I said in a Zoom faculty meeting a few weeks ago, “No one signed up for this.” I teach at two schools in designed e-learning programs, and one school face-to-face (f2f) that has gone on-line by necessity. My students who chose an on-line program know how to navigate the Learning Management System (LMS), and they were prepared to do their work on their own at home. The f2f students did not expect to be meeting the instructor in an occasional Zoom meeting and doing their learning at home. It’s a mess.

I have friends who are parents and friends who are teachers and friends who are both parents and teachers. Homeschooling can be a wonderful experience for the parent and the child. What is happening right now is not homeschooling. This is classroom schooling at home with the adult in the home as the “substitute teacher.” Administrators have expectations for the teachers who translate those expectations to the students who expect their parents to help them to make it happen. Remember, no one signed up for this! It’s a mess! Figure it out. Make it work. Do your best. That’s it. That’s all we can do. Do not judge homeschooling on the “class at home” fiasco we are experiencing now. It’s not the same.

I feel like I’m rambling today… maybe my post is a much a mess as everything right now. Maybe I need to close my computer, go sit by the pool, and let Emma give me directions for my evening. Maybe after all this is over, we can take all the balls we have been juggling and get them back into their own cylinders…or maybe we will just embrace the mess and enjoy the chaos. It could happen!