Since the start of this pandemic, in March, my kids have been hanging around a lot more often. I love them. I like them around more often, most of the time. With these unique ‘back to school’ options we’ve been presented with, I thought I would share something I came up with several month ago, that my kids detest. I call it, the Daily CATCH.

my kids are the best

I realized that they were missing opportunities to be thoughtful and loving while participating in online school. The distance from others wasn’t giving them the prompts to incorporate these normal responses with people. Without everyday interpersonal interactions, how do you make sure your being empathetic? I mean, we can all sit in our houses, apartments, nature, and have empathy from a distance, right?

makoshika state park and my rad kids
this was at Makoshika State Park – it’s the best!

They weren’t feeling excited about much of anything, except video games. I wasn’t feeling as excited either, so I couldn’t force my weird energy on them, to get them all jazzed up about life. They were on their screens too much, tiktoking, snapping, youtubing, and memeing.

I know my kids are good people, we’ve raised them with honesty and reality in the forefront, we don’t sugar coat much. They see the good, they see the bad, they see us happy, they definitely see us sad, and they see us mad, glad, frustrated, etc. They see us real.

I needed more help around the house, trying to juggle work, meals, cleaning, farming our tiny homestead, school, and everyone’s emotions was feeling heavy. I wanted them to do something for someone else everyday, without prompting. I wanted help cooking and cleaning, without much nagging. I wanted them to move their bodies and get of their effing screens and make things, like music, art, love, WHATEVER! I put ny thoughts and desires for them down and created the acronym they will *hopefully* someday thank me for.

CATCH = Creative, Active, Thoughtful, Collaborative and Helpful. They despise it, but I know they secretly love it. And, although we have our days, sometimes weeks, where we fall off the tracks, they follow it. It is simple. It holds them accountable. We hold their phones hostage if they don’t do it, and it actually helps me remember to check in on people I love. Here are the more in depth details. I just revised everything this week, they were asking for more ideas for “Helpfuls” – they actually call them helpfuls.

They try and work the system sometimes, but I make them check in with me everyday about how their CATCH was completed.

Here it is. It keeps us in line, and maybe it can do the same for you. This is exactly what is hanging on our cupboard door. Feel free to use it, you’ll probably need to morph it. It might help you feel a bit more sane and be able to CATCH your breath. *see what I did there?*

The Daily CATCH

Creative – this can be drawing, making, gardening, sewing, or using your imagination to come up with some creation.

Side note: Book Choices & Crash Course: I want you to pick a new book each week that you’d like to read, if it seems like a good pick we’ll invest in it. And, Dad wants you to pick a Crash Course to report on each week. These responsibilities might shift a bit when school is in session, but they may stay in place, depending on school work load. 

Creative Addition: You MUST practice your music for 20 minutes each day. Set a timer if you need to.

Active – Move your body! Bike, run, ski, hike, swim, skate, scoot, and get your heart rate up for at least 30 mins to an hour – if it is longer – that is even better!! I’ll go with you, if you want company. I need it too. 

Thoughtful – this time in the world means we need to be extra thoughtful. Someone needs something, to brighten their day. Maybe that is a letter in their mailbox, hand-picked flowers on their front porch or something we harvested from our yarden. You can bike to great grandma’s for a driveway visit, it is 1.5 miles. Think about someone else every single day, take action, and tell me about it.

Collaborative – work with one other person in this family on something today, and tell me about it. It can be a music project with your brother, a sewing project with me, a planting/harvesting project, etc.

Helpfuls – 2 things everyday – Daily Helpfuls only count as ½ a helpful.  

Daily Helpfuls (worth ½): 

1. Dog Walking – alternating days. Simon odds, Gus evens. Take turns! I’m not keeping track of this anymore. You sort it out. If it doesn’t happen on your day phones are gone.

2. Dishes – if you didn’t cook the meal, you get to help with dishes. This includes loading and unloading the dishwasher AND hand washing pots/pans/wooden things. It also includes wiping down the entire counter, stove top and kitchen table. 

3. Random jobs that are asked of you – garbage, compost, tiny errands, etc. – psst: these don’t count towards your daily helpful goal.

4. Poop – this needs to happen daily until the snow flies. Poop goes in the composter and it is filled with water and powder. We need to get the composter in working order, that means it needs daily attention. 

5. Water. Our animals need fresh water daily. All of the watering holes should be dumped, cleaned and filled (bees included). 

6. Bedrooms cleaned! ALL THE WAY clean – sometimes this won’t be a choice. It’ll just need to be done.

Bigger Helpfuls (worth 1): 

  1. Monday Mow – Yard work is done one day a week, so you probably want to get up early and do it, before the heat. I’ll help, but I need the utmost cooperation. 
  2. Thursday Toilets – Simon upstairs Gus downstairs – complaining earns you the special treat of my bathroom.
  3. Sunday is the day for garbage/recycling and Meal Prep. I need your weekly recipes every Sunday, so I can get the groceries we need to prepare them. Please be as creative as possible. There will also likely be a lot of harvesting on Sundays, so please be prepared to cooperate and help. 
  4. Dinner helpers. You pick one day a week to make dinner and another day to make lunch. If you have conflicts with your schedule we’ll move your day.

Other jobs to choose from: Sometimes these things might not need to be done, but often they do.

  1. Laundry – folded and put away
  2. Vacuuming (couches too)
  3. Sweeping Stairs & Cleaning Entry
  4. Harvesting and Baking
  5. Ask me for jobs if everything on this sheet is complete.

Phone rules: Phone goes up by the predetermined time EVERY NIGHT. At this moment, you should be ready to SLEEP or read in your bed. Showers should have happened already and snacks should have happened already. It is your quiet time, in your bedroom. No Playstation. No DS. No electronics. 

*Your job is to just be the best person you can be, not argue about who does more and who does less, you’ll never win that battle. No arguing about whose turn it is to do something, or you get a job. I’m done with comparing. You’re doing it for the greater good of this family. So, it is impossible for you to worry about how much another is doing, you need to take responsibility for yourself, and be the best you can be. 

My kids seriously are the best, I know yours are too.

giant roadside sculpture north dakota

I was fortunate enough, in the last few weeks, to take a 10 day road trip with them, back to my old stomping grounds. It was pure joy to have them with me, no distractions, camping, laughing and checking out new parts of the country. We peed at all of the weirdest roadside attractions I could find along the way. We peed at exits with no services. We ate lunch by sunflower fields, and in our trusty Subaru. We slept in our six person tent every night, sometimes with a LOT of noisy geese close-by, and more often staring up at magical stars, clouds and a full moon. We just loved on one another, fought sometimes, and bonded. It is easy to forget how awesome they are when we’re stuck in that daily grind. We’d fallen into a routine where, although we were in the same house, we weren’t connecting like we should be. In a way I feel like this online schooling will allow for more opportunities like this. We plan on fall camping and making safe “vacations” across our state, as long as it isn’t all ablaze.

Love to all of you and ‘back to school’ good wishes. I’ll leave you with a short video of some CUR tools that might help with transitions.

Re: my dress – I have a lovely friend, in Finland, who makes a lot of my clothes. If you want to be added to a group where she sells some of them, please contact me. I’ll add you! You might need a piece or two in your life. xo

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