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Restarting homeschool after a loss UPDATE: Holidays?


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My middle son died on 9/30.   It was not unexpected, he had been sick for quite some time. 

The loss is pretty new, and we are still trying to figure out how to get through each day.  I think that getting into a routine would be good for my kids, but it's hard to imagine, so I'm hoping to hear stories from other people about what worked. 

 

-- Baseball and Hockey (used to be CuriousMomof3)

 

UPDATE: Thank you everyone, I'm sorry people have things to share, but it's been really helpful to know what other people have experienced. 

The first week of homeschool went OK.  We've been reading The Rhino in Rightfield, they've done some TaeKwonDo, and youngest, who seems to need to be busy, has done a ton of math.  I don't think we're going to add anything this week.

Since this was really helpful, I'm wondering if anyone has thoughts on handling holidays, especially with Halloween approaching.  

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Oh goodness, I'm sorry. I posted a similar thread in Jan or Feb 2019 after my husband died if you want to look for it. I think it was 6 or 8 weeks before we really touched a book again. That semester I think we scraped by with math. Maybe some Language for my older one. I wanted to do it, I needed to do it, but in the end, we covered the basics. We did have some routine with schedule in general, but all our academics beyond the bare bones fell by the wayside. In our case, it didn't hurt to make a reasonable plan, dropping things that were not as important (like elementary geography), and see how much we could reasonably do. In our case it was not a lot, but in your case it could be more. 

 

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12 minutes ago, Sk8ermaiden said:

Oh goodness, I'm sorry. I posted a similar thread in Jan or Feb 2019 after my husband died if you want to look for it. I think it was 6 or 8 weeks before we really touched a book again. That semester I think we scraped by with math. Maybe some Language for my older one. I wanted to do it, I needed to do it, but in the end, we covered the basics. We did have some routine with schedule in general, but all our academics beyond the bare bones fell by the wayside. In our case, it didn't hurt to make a reasonable plan, dropping things that were not as important (like elementary geography), and see how much we could reasonably do. In our case it was not a lot, but in your case it could be more. 

 

Thanks, I just looked up your thread and it is very helpful.  

 

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When my brother died unexpectedly in childhood, very little school input was possible for mom for the rest of that school year. The other kids still at home went to the local school for a year (I was already grown up; big family). They did better than fine there, because they were already good readers, and returned to homeschooling when mom was ready.

She tells me that she wished they'd gotten more grief counseling for the close siblings. There was quite a bit of bottling things up to avoid increasing parental grief. 

It's not a parallel situation, but I hope you take all the help and time you need, for yourself and your kids.

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My heart goes out to you all, BaseballandHockey!  So sorry to hear.

My husband passed away last year, and my father a couple months ago, both expected and yet still somehow a shock.  I found it helpful to spend lots of time outside in nature and sunshine - took the kids to national parks and playgrounds and just hung out in our backyard.  Being in pleasant surrounds was peaceful, and it helped me to focus on the kids instead of the lists of jobs that are always waiting in a house.  And I tended not to cry often in those places, which made a nice change 🙂  We lined up extra playdates with other families for a while too - the kids were happily occupied in a way that didn't require much from me, and friends were happy to let me talk about how we were or just help me be distracted for a while depending what I needed.  I guess our first "routine" was just "go somewhere or have a visitor each day".  My husband had needed intense care around the clock for the last four or five months before he died, so it was also nice for me to take that time after he passed to really see the kids in front of me and remember how much I enjoy them as people, instead of just being grateful that even the five year old could give himself a shower, brush his own teeth and put himself to bed while I was busy with the baby or their dad.

We took about six weeks off school work after my husband died.  The really intense grief passed in about half that time, but I wanted to make sure I felt "normal" enough to hold the line if kids started resisting doing their work, so I gave it a bit longer.  I found that they seemed to bounce back quicker than I did, and it was helpful to have some activities on hand that were kind of school-y but also mostly independent and fun - assembling and painting historical models, that kind of thing.  We did the same thing after my dad died, although this time it was me who needed the independent fun activity - I painted our school room and assembled some flat pack cabinets along one wall while the kids watched a lot of TV 🙂  It helped me to feel like I was being productive, but I didn't have to be anyone else's cheerleader, and it was kind of meditative to think about all the projects that dad and DH had done for me in the past, and to miss them in a quiet way as I worked.

It's been about 18 months since my husband died.  Most of the time I'm happy, normal, getting on with life.  I still cry easily when I think about it, and sometimes grief just jumps out of nowhere and it's as fresh as the day it happened.  My plan is to be sad when sadness comes, not to feel guilty if I need to declare an unexpected day off school, and just to pick back up where we left off when it subsides again.  I am encouraged by the general things-are-getting-better trend I see and I can usually hang onto that perspective on the sad days instead of believing I will never be happy again.  I miss them both and I always will, but life is good and there is plenty of joy.  I'm learning there's no contradiction in grieving and laughing at the same time and hope that is true for you too ❤️

 

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I'm sorry Hon. ❤️

 

We travelled as much as we could afford to and did going through the motions sort of work, like reading and watching documentaries. They put thoughts into your head, which leaves less room for the thoughts you don't want, but are not taxing. We kind of did the sort of things we'd do if we were on holiday, vaguely productive, little to no output required and with no expectation of recollection at a later date.

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I would say that being busy helps. Just being busy. When my son died I felt numb. My only one schooling was older than yours. But she had a job that summer which kept her busy. (He died the end of May so we had just finished school for the year.) My daughter had her baby just 19 days later. I spent so much time with her, helping her adjust, grieve, and just keeping busy.

I'm not certain that helps much. Just know my prayers are with you. I'm so sorry for your loss.

 

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8 hours ago, elroisees said:

When my brother died unexpectedly in childhood, very little school input was possible for mom for the rest of that school year. The other kids still at home went to the local school for a year (I was already grown up; big family). They did better than fine there, because they were already good readers, and returned to homeschooling when mom was ready.

She tells me that she wished they'd gotten more grief counseling for the close siblings. There was quite a bit of bottling things up to avoid increasing parental grief. 

It's not a parallel situation, but I hope you take all the help and time you need, for yourself and your kids.

I actually think school would be a welcome distraction at least for my youngest.  But I don’t think he’d do well with distance learning at all. His way of coping seems to be an intense need to be busy, and I think sitting still and staring at Zoom is not the answer.  

We do have counseling for the kids.

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8 hours ago, caffeineandbooks said:

My heart goes out to you all, BaseballandHockey!  So sorry to hear.

My husband passed away last year, and my father a couple months ago, both expected and yet still somehow a shock.  I found it helpful to spend lots of time outside in nature and sunshine - took the kids to national parks and playgrounds and just hung out in our backyard.  Being in pleasant surrounds was peaceful, and it helped me to focus on the kids instead of the lists of jobs that are always waiting in a house.  And I tended not to cry often in those places, which made a nice change 🙂  We lined up extra playdates with other families for a while too - the kids were happily occupied in a way that didn't require much from me, and friends were happy to let me talk about how we were or just help me be distracted for a while depending what I needed.  I guess our first "routine" was just "go somewhere or have a visitor each day".  My husband had needed intense care around the clock for the last four or five months before he died, so it was also nice for me to take that time after he passed to really see the kids in front of me and remember how much I enjoy them as people, instead of just being grateful that even the five year old could give himself a shower, brush his own teeth and put himself to bed while I was busy with the baby or their dad.

We took about six weeks off school work after my husband died.  The really intense grief passed in about half that time, but I wanted to make sure I felt "normal" enough to hold the line if kids started resisting doing their work, so I gave it a bit longer.  I found that they seemed to bounce back quicker than I did, and it was helpful to have some activities on hand that were kind of school-y but also mostly independent and fun - assembling and painting historical models, that kind of thing.  We did the same thing after my dad died, although this time it was me who needed the independent fun activity - I painted our school room and assembled some flat pack cabinets along one wall while the kids watched a lot of TV 🙂  It helped me to feel like I was being productive, but I didn't have to be anyone else's cheerleader, and it was kind of meditative to think about all the projects that dad and DH had done for me in the past, and to miss them in a quiet way as I worked.

It's been about 18 months since my husband died.  Most of the time I'm happy, normal, getting on with life.  I still cry easily when I think about it, and sometimes grief just jumps out of nowhere and it's as fresh as the day it happened.  My plan is to be sad when sadness comes, not to feel guilty if I need to declare an unexpected day off school, and just to pick back up where we left off when it subsides again.  I am encouraged by the general things-are-getting-better trend I see and I can usually hang onto that perspective on the sad days instead of believing I will never be happy again.  I miss them both and I always will, but life is good and there is plenty of joy.  I'm learning there's no contradiction in grieving and laughing at the same time and hope that is true for you too ❤️

 

Thank you for sharing this.  I am really sorry for your losses.  

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8 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

I'm sorry Hon. ❤️

 

We travelled as much as we could afford to and did going through the motions sort of work, like reading and watching documentaries. They put thoughts into your head, which leaves less room for the thoughts you don't want, but are not taxing. We kind of did the sort of things we'd do if we were on holiday, vaguely productive, little to no output required and with no expectation of recollection at a later date.

Since I can’t do the thank you button, I thought I’d say thank you here. I am so sorry you’ve been through the same thing.  It really sucks. 

Your suggestions are helpful although covid complicated things.  We spent a few days at my SIL’s and that was definitely a little easier.  We might go back tonight.  

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6 hours ago, LinRTX said:

I would say that being busy helps. Just being busy. When my son died I felt numb. My only one schooling was older than yours. But she had a job that summer which kept her busy. (He died the end of May so we had just finished school for the year.) My daughter had her baby just 19 days later. I spent so much time with her, helping her adjust, grieve, and just keeping busy.

I'm not certain that helps much. Just know my prayers are with you. I'm so sorry for your loss.

 

Thank you, I am sorry you have been in the same situation.  Busy is definitely what my kids need, and extended family is stepping up, because DH and I are finding it hard to initiate or stay in the moment with them.  

 

We we talked today and decided that we would each pick one subject that felt easiest.  We already restarted online TaeKwonDo, so tomorrow we are going to try Beast Academy online (youngest) and bass guitar (oldest) and I will pick a book to read aloud.  

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4 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

 

 

We we talked today and decided that we would each pick one subject that felt easiest.  We already restarted online TaeKwonDo, so tomorrow we are going to try Beast Academy online (youngest) and bass guitar (oldest) and I will pick a book to read aloud.  

This sounds like a good plan.  ❤️

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2 hours ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I think maybe a sports related read aloud would work?  Something their brother wouldn’t like.  Maybe some humor? 

Any suggestions on like a 10 year old’s level without any trauma or dead people or “my sibling is so annoying” themes? 

We enjoyed The Rhino in Right Field by Stacy DeKeyser this year.  Loosely based on a true story from the 1940s.  Immigrant boy plays baseball with his friends inside the Washington Park Zoo in Milwaukee; they kick it up a notch when the local pro team announces a "batboy for a day" competition.  Boy is an only child and he has a female friend who is really good at baseball but excluded from the competition because of her gender.  A couple of funny moments sparked by the titular rhino, and very short chapters so that if you can only handle five or ten minutes of reading at a time there's a natural stopping point.  No trauma, no dead people, no siblings.

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1 minute ago, caffeineandbooks said:

We enjoyed The Rhino in Right Field by Stacy DeKeyser this year.  Loosely based on a true story from the 1940s.  Immigrant boy plays baseball with his friends inside the Washington Park Zoo in Milwaukee; they kick it up a notch when the local pro team announces a "batboy for a day" competition.  Boy is an only child and he has a female friend who is really good at baseball but excluded from the competition because of her gender.  A couple of funny moments sparked by the titular rhino, and very short chapters so that if you can only handle five or ten minutes of reading at a time there's a natural stopping point.  No trauma, no dead people, no siblings.

Thank you!

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2 hours ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I think maybe a sports related read aloud would work?  Something their brother wouldn’t like.  Maybe some humor? 

Any suggestions on like a 10 year old’s level without any trauma or dead people or “my sibling is so annoying” themes? 

Maybe try  In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Zoo Keeper said:

We love that book, but we already read it.   Otherwise it would be a great fit. 

I was just thinking that the Bunnicula series is something my kids loved that would be perfect, but I think my oldest listened to it on audiobook like 100 times. 

 

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Yang the Youngest and his terrible ear might work (youngest child in a musical, immigrant family, discovers that he really, really likes, and is talented at baseball. His best friend, who's father is the coach, discovers he likes violin. And both boys discover a lot of cultural differences and similarities). Sibling relationships are pretty positive. 

 

Also, About the B'nai Bagels is good -mom takes over as coach of the child's little league team (he is also working on his Bar Mitzvah). He's the younger sibling of a young adult brother, who helps with coaching. 

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I am so so sorry.  I am praying for peace for all of you!

I know your pain. My first died at a young age. But I didn't have others yet, so I only had myself to get back on track after losing my own child. But I have a little experience. Six years ago I lost 3 siblings in a six month period while pregnant with my last. It was just boom boom boom, by the way, now it's time for the baby to be born. That year was a mess for all of us. 

How we kept up some routine: I tried to keep the kids in their outside activities. They had dance classes and co-op. At co-op they were in Latin classes and art and science and PE. I helped them keep up with Latin and to do any homework for the other classes. It was a welcome relief to help a kiddo paint a zebra for a presentation on animals. 🙂  They were both in girl scouts. My oldest was in 6th grade, and she chose some girl scout badges that she wanted to do on her own that year when I was busy at hospitals and other places. So she kind of unschooled English by doing a screenwriter's badge and other things. 

And I tried to keep them up in math a few times a week. We didn't finish the math books that year. But we didn't lose all our skills. They kept up reading by reading for those science classes at co-op and on their own. We read books to go with topics that came up in scouts or that they were interested in. 

After a couple of months, we did some big, fun history projects in a couple of months so that we also got history in. It was not a typical year for us, but in the end we covered everything absolutely necessary. My mom is a PS teacher. She was obviously going through all of the pain that we were. She will be he first to tell you that it wasn't her best year either, but she got through it. 

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We started school up right away.  Our kids wanted normal, desperately, and homeschooling was one of normal rhythms. We focused on getting math up and going first, and just having a rhythm to our days.  I relied heavy on audiobooks that year---for a read-aloud time (done with lego play), and for interest.

Some more age appropriate/low energy resources might be: 

Crash Courses (on YouTube)

CNN10/PBS Newshour---and you rabbit trail from there.  We always have a map nearby while watching

library videos---our library is doing a variety of project classes online via youtube

science kits

My other .02 is to try to spend at least 15 minutes each day present and connected with each kid individually.  Fake it until you make it.  They are looking to you to provide hope that the world is going to keep spinning.  

It does, even if it may not feel like it right now.  ****hugs****

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38 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

We started school up right away.  Our kids wanted normal, desperately, and homeschooling was one of normal rhythms. We focused on getting math up and going first, and just having a rhythm to our days.  I relied heavy on audiobooks that year---for a read-aloud time (done with lego play), and for interest.

Some more age appropriate/low energy resources might be: 

Crash Courses (on YouTube)

CNN10/PBS Newshour---and you rabbit trail from there.  We always have a map nearby while watching

library videos---our library is doing a variety of project classes online via youtube

science kits

My other .02 is to try to spend at least 15 minutes each day present and connected with each kid individually.  Fake it until you make it.  They are looking to you to provide hope that the world is going to keep spinning.  

It does, even if it may not feel like it right now.  ****hugs****

My youngest is expressing the desire for things to be "normal", and I do think that routine is what we need.  I feel like we got to a place this spring where homeschool was something of a normal rhythm for us, and not just this weird thing we did to avoid germs, but the fall was really chaotic, and we kind of lost that rhythm.  So, it feels more like we're starting from scratch, then getting back to normal.  But I do think that starting homeschooling, gently, makes sense.  Right now, we're doing some things but not everything, and spending lots of time exercising.  For my kids, I think that exercise will be key to getting through this.   I will check out the resources you suggest.

Yes, I think one on one time is what we need, and we are working on that too. 

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Make sure you talk to them about how grief *works* so they understand that everything you and they feel is normal, and fairly predictable.  *When* something will hit you isn't so predictable in the early days, but that things *will* is certainly predictable. It helps if they can feel that anyone's meltdown is to be expected under the circumstances. And anyone's numbness and anyone's laughter, which their brain does to give them a rest from pain, is to be expected under the circumstances. 

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18 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Make sure you talk to them about how grief *works* so they understand that everything you and they feel is normal, and fairly predictable.  *When* something will hit you isn't so predictable in the early days, but that things *will* is certainly predictable. It helps if they can feel that anyone's meltdown is to be expected under the circumstances. And anyone's numbness and anyone's laughter, which their brain does to give them a rest from pain, is to be expected under the circumstances. 

My kids are grieving really differently from each other and at first that was an issue.  So we’ve had lots to talk about.  Their therapist has also been a good resource.

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On 10/18/2020 at 3:00 AM, Rosie_0801 said:

little to no output required and with no expectation of recollection at a later date.

I agree. Memory loss is normal, as the brain protects itself from being overwhelmed.

On 10/20/2020 at 4:29 PM, Rosie_0801 said:

Make sure you talk to them about how grief *works*

Grief is not linear. There will be lots of ups and downs and back and forth, and sudden collapses.

Stand alone books and resources are easier than attempting consistent progress though a textbook with chapters that build upon each other.

Rhythm is helpful to some people. Also tactile experiences. Borrowing a few Waldorf techniques without trying to "switch" to Waldorf might be welcome.

I'm so sorry for your loss!

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On 10/20/2020 at 6:29 PM, Rosie_0801 said:

Make sure you talk to them about how grief *works* so they understand that everything you and they feel is normal, and fairly predictable.  *When* something will hit you isn't so predictable in the early days, but that things *will* is certainly predictable. It helps if they can feel that anyone's meltdown is to be expected under the circumstances. And anyone's numbness and anyone's laughter, which their brain does to give them a rest from pain, is to be expected under the circumstances. 

This is brilliant.

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I'm so very sorry for your loss, and for all of you who have lost a loved one.

My loss was different, but devastating for our family.  I was grief-stricken for a long time.  What helped me...  Accepting help from others, relaxing homeschool goals, and allowing for more luxury behaviors like mid-afternoon breaks, TV, etc.   Continuing a homeschool schedule was a welcome distraction for me though, and the routine was really helpful for my kids.

But, I relied much more on things like documentaries, reading literature, art projects, creative writing, keeping up journals.  We kept up math in a fairly disciplined way.  We had science workbooks that were mostly do-it-yourself, and I'd find short videos or documentaries and even labs to watch online that related to their workbooks.  We took time out every day to just hang out together and have snacks together or take a walk or just something fun we could do together.  We began watching TV series.  (Up till then we didn't really watch TV).   We'd find a series that everyone liked (on Amazon or Netflix), and then every night would watch one before bed.  We'd all look forward to that all day.

We laughed at the silliest things, and allowed ourselves the freedom to do that even in the midst of something devastating.

I wish I had gotten counseling for my kids -- for all of us, sometime that year, not necessarily to deal with how we felt at the time (because that was pretty obvious), but to be prepared for how such a devastating and life-altering event would likely play out in our psyche and our lives down the road, something which, at the time, we had absolutely no inkling of.

Many, many blessings to you and your sweet family as you continue on this life journey together! 

 

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4 hours ago, bensonduck said:

I don’t have any words of wisdom for you beyond what the wise posters on this thread have already shared. I just want to say how sorry I am for your loss and that I will pray for your family, if that is okay. 

We welcome prayers.  Thank you!

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  • BaseballandHockey changed the title to Restarting homeschool after a loss UPDATE: Holidays?
On 10/17/2020 at 5:50 PM, BaseballandHockey said:

 

 

UPDATE: Thank you everyone, I'm sorry people have things to share, but it's been really helpful to know what other people have experienced. 

The first week of homeschool went OK.  We've been reading The Rhino in Rightfield, they've done some TaeKwonDo, and youngest, who seems to need to be busy, has done a ton of math.  I don't think we're going to add anything this week.

Since this was really helpful, I'm wondering if anyone has thoughts on handling holidays, especially with Halloween approaching.  

Quoting myself in case people read from the bottom. 

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The first holidays post loss are hard. We just did the same as always through the tears. The first one after Stephen's death was 4th of July for us. We live in the country and shoot our own fireworks. Stephen loved this. We got a few of his favorites, said this is for you son, cried, and lit it. And cried some more.

 

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You asked about the holidays.

Halloween is Saturday. I would just plan for a normal school week.

Thanksgiving week we will take off Wednesday-Friday.

I think the year after my dd died, we even schooled through most of Christmas week. School was bonding time—books on couches with blankets and cocoa, experiments, documentaries...but it was school. 
 

We can handle a week off now but my kids don’t do well with two unstructured weeks in a row. I haven’t decided yet what we are going to do this year. With no travel due to the pandemic, I am inclined to keep going and free up school days for summer when we can go to the beach. 

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3 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

You asked about the holidays.

Halloween is Saturday. I would just plan for a normal school week.

Thanksgiving week we will take off Wednesday-Friday.

I think the year after my dd died, we even schooled through most of Christmas week. School was bonding time—books on couches with blankets and cocoa, experiments, documentaries...but it was school. 

We can handle a week off now but my kids don’t do well with two unstructured weeks in a row. I haven’t decided yet what we are going to do this year. With no travel due to the pandemic, I am inclined to keep going and free up school days for summer when we can go to the beach. 

Thanks,

We don't have that much school going, I haven't even sorted out what we'll be teaching for anything but math, but what we're doing we'll keep doing next week. 

I was thinking more wondering how to handle the actual day.  I think @LinRTX's suggestion of sticking with traditions makes sense, although covid makes that complicated.  

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I asked the kids what they wanted to do, given Covid restrictions.

They chose a Harry Potter movie fest (all day) with inside room to room/door to door trick or treating for Youngest.

Your boys are old enough that what Halloween is is likely to change anyway. Trick or treating kinda dropped off once they hit double digits at my house.

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6 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I asked the kids what they wanted to do, given Covid restrictions.

They chose a Harry Potter movie fest (all day) with inside room to room/door to door trick or treating for Youngest.

Your boys are old enough that what Halloween is is likely to change anyway. Trick or treating kinda dropped off once they hit double digits at my house.

See I feel like 10 (my youngest) is the perfect age, young enough to get into it, old enough not to need mom right there, and to stay up pretty late.  

I was prepared to let him go, but he told me today he doesn’t want to.  He thinks it’s too risky.  So we’ll figure something else out.  

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