With the world changing with each blink of the eye, our goal at Mesabi Daily News is to keep the Iron Range aware on all these changes. We don’t want you to panic (no need to stock up on toilet paper) but believe a better informed public is a healthier community.

As a professional and parent I feel like my head is spinning. The unknown is stressful and COVID-19 brings up real concerns for my family, friends and community.

With that in mind, I will be starting a new column to document our daily life while living in the time of the Coronavirus.

This past Sunday, Gov. Tim Walz announced that all schools across Minnesota will be closed starting Wednesday. On Monday, I woke at 2 a.m. and spent the next few hours looking up homeschooling on Pinterest.

We have two children. Shannon is in seventh grade at Virginia and Mick is in fifth at Marquette.

Their reaction to school closure was at first ecstatic but then their growing fear of COVID-19 seemed to take hold. We are working on using knowledge to help regulate our reactions.

I am grateful for the preparations the schools and state are making for the impending doom of kids at home. Virginia will be heavily utilizing the school issued iPads after March 30 if/when school is not back in session and Marquette will be sending home books and packets.

So, although homeschooling my children was never something I considered, it looks like that is my future. OK — to be fair, this isn’t homeschooling, but distance learning as their teachers have made the plans and I just have the execution responsibility.

So what did I learn from my late night Pinterest panic?

1. Have a schedule. Children thrive on schedules. They know what to expect, what consequences there may be and can make better decisions.

In our family, we have decided to keep bedtime the same (8-8:30 p.m.) but relax when they get up. There is no reason for them to be up at 6:30 a.m., unless they want to be.

On Sunday evening, we had a family meeting and decided for everyone to take a day and figure out what they want this experience to look like. What is important to you? What do you want to do?

It is Monday morning as I write this, and I look forward to having this discussion with them in the next day or two.

Why worry about a schedule and what the children want? Simple: We need their buy in.

In this time of uncertainty, we want to give our children something they can control in their lives. With that feeling of control, they will buy into the concept of this schedule and will be more likely to follow through and not cause issues.

2. Have variety and flexibility. Use this time to encourage creativity and exploration. Be understanding and forgiving when this exploration leds your family down a new path.

Yes, the children will have assignments and topics they must learn. But, what do they want to do and learn about?

If Mick is learning about volcanoes, let's make one! Do you see the lava coming over the side? Let me tell you a story of Pompeii and how the whole city was frozen in time. Do you want to see pictures of the excavated site? Let’s go excavate a site in the snow and then learn more about archeology by watching Indiana Jones tonight.

Shannon is practicing a new orchestra piece for the cello. Who wrote it and when? What is the story of the music? Let’s make up a play to tell the story and then write it down to send to cousins.

3. Have a set space for learning. Have a set space for working from home.

With schools being canceled, a lot more parents are going to be working from home, if they can. It is easier to get into the headspace of work or school when there is a special place set aside for that activity.

Studies show that you fall asleep quicker if you only sleep in your bed- don’t read, watch TV or eat in bed. Just sleep there. It conditions your brain for that task.

In the same way, it is easier to think about work/school if you have a set space for that activity.

4. Laugh. Cry. You do you!

So after far too much time stressing about homeschooling, in the light of day I realize that distance learning is way less scary. I fell down the rabbit hole of memes. Specifically, Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” memes of encouragement.

Dreamily looking off into the distance with the first few buttons undone, what parent wouldn’t love Ryan Gosling saying, “Hey Girl, I think it’s great the kids dug a WWI trench in the snow. If the Germans invade we will be prepared!”

If you don’t laugh you might cry, both are OK. Don’t let the coronavirus kill you or your soul. Instead, take advantage of this new adventure with your family.

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