- Leanne in her living room nook
On the day after schools closed in Vermont, I believed that everything would be better if I could start each day by straightening up the house to get in my “zone.” Now, I’ve given that up. I have found that the key to success in making it all work is asking myself, What really matters? Let’s face it. No one is coming over to my house, or yours, or anyone’s for that matter, for a very long time. So honestly, who really cares how messy it gets? As long as the kids and I can walk safely across the room, it’s fine.
- Leanne's 6-year-old son Atticus
I have developed a few tricks. In writing workshop, I’m having my son write to his pen pal — his best friend who lives up our little dirt road, who he doesn’t get to see anymore. I help him spell the words, and then he turns the paper over and draws a picture on the back — while I work. For math, I’ve figured out that if I give him addition and subtraction problems that solve a secret code, he will work on it for an hour, without any help from me.
- Leanne's children playing at home
I’m far from a perfect mom, or a perfect homeschooler, or a perfect teacher. I no longer follow the kindergarten schedule that I shared with my son’s teacher on the very first day of homeschooling. I’ve learned to chill out and not intervene in free play unless there’s a problem. And perhaps most importantly, I have created my own little island of peace.
This little nook in my living room is the one part of the house that I diligently tidy up every morning and every afternoon. One 6x6-foot square of cozy that is all my own: soft cushions, pillows, a snack and a glass of water. Even when the churning sea of chaos swirls around me, this is my space. I don’t know if it will work forever, but right now it is working. All we can do right now is try to get by, day by day.
Leanne Harple teaches English at Hazen Union Middle and High School in Hardwick. She is the mother of Scarlett, 3, and Atticus, 6.