Beet Salad: Back to School

Children and COVID, conversation with Brene Brown, family calendar, school lunches and more!

Hi there! Welcome to the 100+ new subscribers that have joined us in August! We are honored that you have joined our extended community following our life journey. This week’s post is a different format - lovingly called the Beet Salad - a compilation of quick-read tips, lessons, and recs across the full spectrum of topics we discuss on Mind The Beet. Perfect for those who just want to skim and graze!

You can always find all our longer-form, single-topic essays here: mindthebeet.com/articles. If you are new, here are some of our favorites from the archives:

Let us know what you think of this format (you can always reply to this email - it’ll go straight to us!) If you love it, feel free to share it with a few colleagues - it’s a great intro post to the wide range of brain candy here on MTB:

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This week, I’ve been getting ready for school to come back in session. Our oldest is going back to elementary school and youngest will be in preschool. I am definitely feeling the emotional toll and anxiety creeping up as we prepare to send our unvaccinated children to schools and add back activities while managing our busy careers and lives.

🎙 Content rec: Children and COVID: Your questions answered, NYT - Daily Podcast

There is a lot of alarmist writing out there from publications I normally respect. It’s been hard to tune the data-less, stress inducing, click bate articles out and focus on the helpful pieces of data.

NYT the Daily had a good podcast earlier this week that calmed my nerves called Children and COVID - Your Questions, Answered. TL;DR: kids are less likely to get seriously sick from COVID. Only 1 in 100 end up in a hospital and 1 in 10,000 die. Obviously, my worst case scenario thinking goes immediately to that 1% possibility, but if you believe the data, yes, things are scary, but I can manage the risk with this information.

💪🏻 Life tip: People around us are doing the best they can - conversation with Brene Brown

As I’ve written about before, I'm a huge Brene Brown fan - she has done so much for my leadership and parenting perspective through her writing (Dare to Lead, Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly and her podcasts). One of the most impactful lessons for me from Dare to Lead is assuming that people around us are doing the best they can as opposed to presume that people want to disappoint us on purpose.

As I have been preparing for fall and going back to school, I had a chance to talk to her about this during this past week (as part of Microsoft’s giving campaign, I won an opportunity for a book club with Brene) and she had some really great and timely reminders.

1) Once you accept that people in your life are doing the best they can (your co-workers, children, friends, spouse) - you shift from being frustrated to wondering what you can/should do to help.

2) Once you start respecting and accepting people for who they are and what they are actually doing (vs. what you’d like them to do), then you can hold them accountable for it and set appropriate boundaries.

On the parenting front (and in the spirit of this back to school post), once I accepted that our teachers, principals and district leaders are doing the best they can to open schools - the question has turned to what can I do to set the right boundaries for me to feel safe to send my child back to school. And if I can’t make it feel safe, what alternative am I willing to pursue (remote learning, etc.)

This is also a great reminder for myself as I have days and moments of being overwhelmed about the upcoming year that I too am doing the best I can right now.

📅 Product rec: Skylight frame

Adam got the gift of a Skylight Frame for me about 2 years ago - a single purpose device that shows our calendar. Here is how I use it to keep the family organized:

  1. Set the frame in a prominent location - ours is on top of our crap drawer in the kitchen.

  2. Create a family account/calendar and synch it to Skylight - we used Outlook to do this, but you can do a free Gmail account or any other mail client of your choice. A great benefit of having a separate account is that I’m comfortable sharing the calendar link with my nanny so that she can easily have access to events/addresses on her phone.

  3. Crowd source putting events on it that the whole family needs to know about - Skylight makes it easy because you just forward any relevant events to the designated email (alternatively, you can pay for a subscription and it will synch your calendar automatically). Things we include are: early release days, nanny hours, sports schedule, my workout schedule if it’s before/after hours, cleaning dates/times, days off school, etc. Everything and anything that would help us get organized goes on the calendar.

  4. Synch the family calendar to your work calendar - I used to invite my work calendar to the family calendar and that created for a really cluttered experience. So now I keep them separate but overlap the two calendars next to each other so I can see what is happening.

🍕 Content Rec: Kids lunches

If you are looking for healthy kid lunch ideas as school picks back up, a fellow mom runs this great Instagram @mykidsdailylunchbox and shares what she is putting in her kids lunch. Check it out if you are in need of ideas. She also has a story on best lunch box containers that I have found helpful.

🧹 Parenting advice: Pick 10

I have recently stumbled on this awesome hack to keep the house in a more tidy state called the “10 Things Rule” renamed in our household to Pick 10. With a busy family of four, the clutter accumulates super fast. So now, as a family, we all pick up 10 things during a transition period - for example between dinner and next activity, before leaving the house to go on a fun adventure, after arriving home and starting the next thing. 10 is an arbitrary number - sometimes we do 5 or 15. The main point is to not make this be time-based but outcome-based.

Our four year old also likes this because “it’s fair” and it’s not just the kids who have to do all the work. 😂

🎁 Gift rec: Carolle doll for a 1 year old

I’m always on the look out for excellent gifts for children. A few weeks ago, I had a few suggestions for new parent gifts (Freddy the Firefly and a Woolino sleep sack).

Moving up the age bracket, the Carolle doll is a great gift for the 1 year old. Here the top reasons I like this gift:

  1. Soft body makes it be an easy doll to sleep with, also machine washable if needed

  2. Kids can grow with it because there are lots of accessories/clothes for this standard sized 12 in doll.

  3. Most importantly, this toy, more than others, has inspired a lot of imaginative play and has kept the kids interest for years in our household

Coda on Privilege

Many of our Mind The Beet posts end with a note on ways we’ve chosen to give back. This week, in addition to school anxiety, I have also been feeling overwhelmed by the events in Afghanistan. The future for women and girls is not bright. After some research on the best options, we are donating and highlighting Together Rising. Join us and donate here.