Social distancing time goes from special to frustrating

Weaknesses are heightened when time is free.

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Brenda Rudolph finds herself exasperated by her children's ability to keep themselves busy with everything other than schoolwork as online schooling continues. (Brenda Rudolph / Special to Agweek)

The first couple of weeks of social distancing was accepted in our house almost to a point of a little bit appreciated.

We didn’t need to be anywhere. There was no rushing out the door. There was no “hurry up.” Where I used to say, “Hurry up!” has now been replaced with “put the wrappers in the garbage!” “Put on some pants!”

Our day-to-day lives weren’t completely disrupted, but I did begin to realize what active lives my children have. Dance lessons, violin lessons, orchestra practice, religion class and all the extra meetings in between instantly stopped. Projects in outreach I was working on, put on hold.

Social distancing actually came with some freeing elements for a moment. My email inbox became less crowded. I had “more time,” which made me realize I really did not want to clean out a closet, which I thought prior the reason was “I didn’t have time.” Yes, I have had time to do some self-reflecting on that revelation.

No one had any expectations of anyone. I thought that would be freeing but in turn it isn’t. I was bad at time management before, this time has just intensified this fault of mine. After two weeks of no school and distant learning to begin, the questions of how school is going to look for my son Everett became front and center.


I thought we could handle it. I gave myself a false pep talk going into this. We have OK internet for downloading. Uploading is a different issue. If you are in certain areas of the house the wifi is better. We have decent cell service, so between wifi and data we would be able to make it work.

The bus brings Everett’s homework pack for the week on Monday and the following Monday the pack should be returned on the bus. We have yet to return a completed pack. We are starting week 4. Yes, we have Zoom and are utilizing it to the best of our ability, but it still doesn’t replace human interaction. Everett missed his Zoom appointment with his teacher even though the reminder sticky note on the refrigerator and we reminded all in the household the night before. Our struggle isn’t because of lack of technology; our struggle is just a struggle. My cousin has enlisted herself to help Everett through FaceTime to help keep him on task.

My kids have never had an issue keeping themselves occupied. This wonderful skill they have has turned into a small nightmare. School work isn’t getting done. Things like making traps in the old barn, making ponds in the yard for Everett’s ducks, climbing in the hayloft and making a contraption out of root beer bottles tied to your pants by baler twine for carrying water for chickens are more fun than schoolwork.

There have been small special moments like an impromptu tea party that started out sweet but quickly turned into “how much salt can we add before it is gross and challenge the other to drink it.” Sigh.

Brenda Rudolph shares rural family life on her blog Follow along on Raising a Farmer on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Contact her at

Brenda Rudolph
Brenda Rudolph

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