Do you ever take a minute and just stop and reflect on how incredibly weird life is now?  Just me….ok.

It’s back to school time.  Only now, for many of us, school is your living room.  Or the kitchen or the kids bedrooms or where ever there is space.  This varies across the planet, whether you are in person, online, hybrid, starting online then going in person, etc.  Whatever the case is, it’s not going to be “normal”.  It’s new normal, whatever that means.  We have been back for a couple days and so I’d like to share a few tips in the hopes it helps your back to school experience to be better.

First, general, non related to triathlon/runner tips.

  1.  Be prepared.  Don’t wait until the night before school starts.  Read ALL the emails you get from the school.  Yes, there will be approximately 5000 and it will be overwhelming.  But read them.  Have your school space set up and ready a day or two in advance.  It should be quiet, have space for a computer and for the kids to have paper and pencils.  If you have multiple kids sharing a room like I do then noise canceling headphones are a must.  I’ve also seen cardboard separation stations for the kids who are easily distracted.  And have the school space be school space, because I have all the kids in one room that room is no longer used for playing with toys and video games.  It is the school space.  Test your electronic equipment prior to the first day.  Make sure your internet is up and running at full strength.
  2. Structure your day.  Treat the day like you’re actually going to school.  Get up, get dressed, have breakfast, brush teeth etc.  Treat school time like they’re at school.  We don’t do video games during breaks, they can read or write or draw like they’re at school. ( As I was writing this I took a break to check on the kids and busted my nine year old playing his 3DS while on Zoom.  Face palm.)
  3.  If you have multiple kids make a master schedule.  I have 4 kids at 3 schools and they all have their own bell schedules and lunch times.  One kid starts at 7:15 am another not until 9. I can’t keep track of it all in my head so I write it down.
  4. If you have older kids this is a great time to foster independence.  Let them be in charge of their own schedule and making sure they get to class to time, if they need to set alarms on their phones then encourage that.  Even younger kids can be responsible for quite a bit so give them the opportunity.  This is especially beneficial if you are working from home and can’t be hovering all day to make sure they get to class.

Now as it pertains to those of us training.

  1. Give yourself the first day of school off from training.  No need to add to what will be a stressful day.  Things will go wrong.  The internet will crash, your passwords won’t work, the links in the online stuff will be dead, something will go wrong.  So arm yourself with a big pot of coffee and a lot of patience!  Put your tri racing experience into play here…like that time you got a flat or forgot your nutrition….you know how to adapt to any plot twist!
  2. Learn the new routine.  If you’ve always been an early morning exerciser and got it done before the kids went to school then you’re golden.  Carry on with your bad self!  If you’ve been one to head out for a workout after the kids went to school, like me, then there are a lot of adjustments to be made.  Easiest thing is become that early morning  person and get it done.  Or, once you’ve figured out the new school schedule and routine then use that to plan your day.  I have an hour block between my oldest starting at 7:15 and the next two at 8:30.  That’s enough time to take my other daughter out for her run and do a little extra too.
  3. Include the kids in your training!  If they have a long lunch break get out for a jog while they bike, or out in the pool if you have one, or do a strength or yoga workout together.  They’re missing out on in person PE so they need the physical activity as well.  This is also a welcome break from all the sitting and computer time.
PE Class!

The most important thing I think is to remember this is temporary and to do what you need to just make it through.  This is hard on the parents, the kids and the TEACHERS!  Don’t forget to show your teachers some love and appreciation for all they are doing.  They are reinventing the wheel on the fly and deserve a ton of credit.  The day will come when the kids will go back to school, there will be “normal” again and we will look back on this crazy time and laugh about how insane everything was.  We just have to get there.  One day at a time.

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