"All Work And No Play" Is Tired

Time for Less Work, and More Play

At ten o’clock the other night, Steve glanced at his work phone. “Damn. The e-mails are coming in at all hours now.”

When this pandemic first hit, and everybody relocated to their homes, we were told that this new slower place of life was going to be awesome. How did it turn out? Is my life really slower and more chill? Maybe. In some ways. But, mostly, we’re all working harder than ever.

There are no barriers between work and home anymore. That hour of commute time is now being spent in front of a computer. With the kids studying at home, dinner prep and laundry never ends.

Even freelancers like myself — mistresses of our domains who have worked from home for ages— are working harder. If I can’t do fun things, like socializing with friends and having adventures, I guess I would rather work. Sitting on the sofa isn’t my style.

When this is all done — which is not now — crazy parties will happen.

I’m a big fan of work/life balance, so I’m dialing back on work this week and keeping this newsletter short today. No big ideas, just some ICYMI and fun links. We’re packing up the Subaru for a weekend trip to Philly. I’ll post pictures of food and art museums on Instagram.

7 Tips for Parents Who Want to Speak Out at School Board Meetings and Be Effective Advocates for Students

Not happy with how things are going in your school district? Then make some good trouble!

Thanks to YahooNJ Education Report and The 74 for reprinting my tips for speaking at school board meetings. 

Many parents think the best way to help their kids survive a public school system with competing interests and dwindling resources is to volunteer for PTAs and to provide tons of unpaid labor for the schools, which can be later traded for certain advantages for their particular kids — entrance into a specialized program or choice of better teachers. Over time, I’ve found that speaking at school board meetings is a more effective tool, especially when the goal is to help all kids, not just your kid.

Last month, I planned to talk at our school board meeting about the need for an 18-to-21 program in our town and how their proposed plan could be better. Other times, I’ve spoken out about the impact of school closures on academics, an audit of our special education program that did not get attention and the appropriate usage of particular federal funds.

Read more here

Are We Facing a Mental Health Crisis for Boys?

While Niobe Way was working toward her PhD in counseling at Harvard University in the late 1980s, she was struck by the fact that boys frequently told her during therapy sessions that they wished they had better friendships.

Decades later, Way, now a professor of developmental psychology at New York University and the author of Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection, has interviewed more than a thousand boys and has found that little has changed. “The culture of hypermasculinity makes it harder for boys to form relationships, and that leads to a crisis of connection,” said Way, who has discovered that while boys desire connections with peers, they tend to distance themselves as they age, due to social stigmas.

More here. It’s on Edutopia’s most popular list right now.

I added some more thoughts on this topic in last week’s newsletter. Read more here.

Occupational Therapy Shifts From Tactile to Digital

Every day, occupational therapists (OTs) get their hands dirty as they work with students who struggle with fine motor and sensory skills.

OTs guide children’s hands as they learn how to correctly grip a pencil and draw letters, and they help children use various manipulatives, like Play-Doh and blocks, to build strength. They set up Sensory Rooms, where children can bounce on balls and jump on trampolines to release energy so that they can focus on learning. Sometimes, when children are upset, the OTs hold them to calm them down.

But since last spring, when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in the United States, most occupational therapists have been unable to touch and guide students in person—and have had to completely reinvent how they work. The adaptations have been especially challenging because many children with special needs depend heavily on parent/caregiver oversight to help them with tech tools or even to sit still to focus during remote education.

Read the article here.

Read my commentary on this topic here.


When a friend told me about the super cheap airplane tickets to Florida — $55 round trip! — we briefly considered going down there for April Break. But every unvaccinated college kid in the country has the same idea, so we are now thinking about a Plan B. Maybe Washington, DC or Asheville, NC. This weekend, we’re going to visit the museums in Philadelphia. 

Page Six of the NY Post said that Meghan Markle is networking with Democratic operatives, as she considers a run for the presidency in 2024. (Most people don’t think Biden will run for a second term.) The gossip blogs have been saying that she was thinking about this possibility, when her ambitions to become a Marvel superhero didn’t pan out. They don’t say she’ll win though, just that plans are in the works. Can you imagine what Kamala Harris would do to her in a debate? As I wrote last week, I blame Trump for this. It’s a good thing that she’s not thinking about political office in the UK. Some great commentary on all this from Caitlin Flanagan at the Atlantic.

After my insomniac reading habits got me turned onto the royal family, I got more interested in the English lifestyle. I began following various English gardeners on Instagram. The New York Times had a piece in Sunday’s Times about a British gardening show. My favorites on Instagram are Jasper Conran, Paula from Hill House Vintage, and Irene My Life. I’ve even started dressing more British with little earringsrain boots, and a wax jacket

UPDATE: This week’s, T Magazine has a big profile of Jasper Conran. I saw him first!

I have not yet been successful in activating my ClubHouse account (not sad), so I’ve been getting my fix of the chatting class’s thoughts through various newsletters. Heather Cox Richardson has a nice one this week about the anniversary of Maine’s statehood, and the contributions of Maine abolitionists. Matt Yglesias talks about nursing homes and smart people. 

Things that I’m thinking about: community collegesworkplace skills, private tutoring centers

Watching: Stanley Tucci and Lupin.