Family

I Wrote a Manifesto in Opposition to My Parents’ Quarantine Overscheduling

And it worked, too.

Illustration of two angry boys pointing to manifesto on fridge.
Natalie Matthews-Ramo

In mid-March, when schools shut down and we realized we’d be hunkered down for untold weeks with our two children, we did what lots of parents did: We made a schedule. Ours, written on cheerfully colored card stock, broke each day into 30-, 60-, and 90-minute chunks: math time, reading time, outside time, free time … all the times. Regimented, yes, but we were trying to work and parent and teach, and kids love structure, right?

We didn’t realize just how unthrilled our kids were with this system until we woke up one morning to find a manifesto posted on the refrigerator, demanding an end to the tyranny of the schedule. Here is that manifesto, written in the middle of the night by Leo, age 13 (with input from Jesse, age 8). —Claire Campbell

THE COMPLETE EVALUATIONS OF THE QUARANTINE ACTIVE SCHEDULE

TWO ARTICLES POSSESSING REASONING AND EXAMPLES OF SCHEDULE FLAWS.

REPORT COMPOSED BY LEO RAINEY WITH HELP AND GUIDANCE OF JESSE RAINEY.

ARTICLE Ⅰ

To whom this article may concern,

Hello, this paper has been written in rebellion of the Quarantine schedules of the Rainey household; many of the members of the family disagree with the adults’ planning and course of action. The following manuscript explains and examines the flaws in the schedule, as well as the reasons to believe it should be eradicated from the shut-in. The intentions of the creators of the document are not meant to come off as violent or annoying, but are here to show that the schedule of each day in the quarantine makes them feel completely and utterly powerless. These are the complete evaluations of the schedule and steps toward liberation.

Piano. During the day, Leo feels as if he cannot practice his full piano (about 45 mins). This is because he has little segments to play what he is good at during the day, instead of longer segments to practice. He needs his designated free time to do other things, such as read, figure out the computer, or anything birthday related. If the schedule is lifted, Leo feels as if he can manage his own time well and he can sit down and focus on the piano without worrying about what is happening next in the day.

Walks. It would seem that the youngest member of the Rainey nuclear family, Jesse, dislikes walks and the fatigue they bring him. He feels that a 30 minute walk is simply too much a day, as it requires non-stop walking around the neighborhood. Most times, the weather is also a factor in these walks, making Jesse too hot or too cold; either way uncomfortable. However, if the schedule were removed from the quarantine, Jesse would get his exercise by dressing up and running around outside, helping his imagination grow as well as developing his “thinking”. Jesse does these for long enough and can simply stop or slow down if inclined.

Yard work. The Rainey household has done much yard work over the 16 days of quarantine, making it very pretty. Some of these events were enjoyable, but some were not. Because of the fascinating progress of the family, the two boys don’t see what more can be done, making yard time more and more unnecessary. The children dislike getting sweaty and tired in the middle of the day, making the end of lunch a nap period or something close to it. If the schedule was postponed or stopped, the Rainey boys would be happy to work outside on certain occasions, but not on a regular basis. The parents can do whatever they want with their free time.

Schooling. The second youngest child, Leo, believes that the schedule is unnecessary for his schooling. Aside from memorizing his school’s distance learning schedule, Leo can use the bits in between classes and much of the afternoon for homework and catch up work. There are many time sensitive assignments given throughout the week, and Wednesdays only help so much. Leo analysed and agreed that without a schedule, he could feel like he can do his homework worry free and finish it with unlimited homework time on his personal agenda. He believes that this would help him as an academic, a procrastinator, and as a person.

Typing Club. Jesse Rainey feels that the new typing software being used is a drag. It tires and frustrates him every morning both because his motor skills aren’t quite developed and because he believes that he does not need to learn this at age eight. After it, he is put in a bad mood and it makes him negligent for the proceeding hour. If Typing Club were forgotten, Jesse would not only have more energy, he would feel generally happier. He does not need to type much at his age.

Friends and other non-school workings. Many of Leo’s friends and he desire to take advantage of any spare time and hang out, making sure each of them survive eternal boredom. Leo feels reconnected with his close companions and friends when he makes these video calls and such. Some of his friends are starting a virtual D&D group with him. He thinks, however, that the schedules of the house restrict him in many ways. He only has the Lunch period to be with his friends, he can’t meet them very often, and he feels alone and distant from his buddys. If the schedule were lifted, Leo says that he would feel that he could get most of his personal aspirations contented and that he could find time to do everything he loves, as well as do his efficient and important school work.

Reading time. The Raineys trust that they can read on their own time. They have acquired many books recently and they do not have enough time to read them now. If the schedule was diminished, each member of the family would personally put a reading time aside for themselves whenever it was convenient.

THIS ENDS THE FIRST ARTICLE.

ARTICLE Ⅱ

To whom this article may concern,

Hello. Assuming you have read the previous article, this is a segment that will offer solutions for the quagmires of the last page, ending in the overall conclusion of shutting down the schedules. This article will be shorter than the last, as some solutions have already been provided. Please bear with us as we examine these solutions and reasoning behind our thinking.

The removal of the schedule would be beneficial to both parties of the Rainey family; the adults and the children. For the children, Leo and Jesse, it would loosen up the tight, restricting bonds of what comes up next, allowing them to better focus upon pressing matters such as homework and reading, and of course, play. This would allow them the leeway to do everything that they want and need to do, letting them plan for themselves. Leo and Jesse would rearrange the amounts of time that they personally need. This would be a wonderful improvement to the social and emotional life of the children during the Quarantine, and they might even feel less bored. Please offer this chance for the best results.

For the Adults, this would also help and allow them to thrive even more. Most of the things on the schedule were meant to get the children to help the adults. YOU CAN STILL DO THOSE THINGS!!! The adults can do those things and focus even more because there will not be pestering children and loud complaints to slow them down. Seemingly, they are very happy with the schedule, and they can create schedules for themselves to follow through–leaving their offspring out of it. Without the obstacles of meddling children, the jobs would be done twice as fast, and because the adults complain that the kids take all of their free time, with the jobs out of the way, the adults can do anything they want to do, providing it does not interfere with the children. This deal stands with much promise.

This Paper was created to passively show and express the feelings and emotions of the Rainey children towards the schedule. We have shown and spotted many reasons that the schedule should be no more and we hold by these promises and agreements and will throughout the Quarantine and foreseeable future. Thank you.

THIS ENDS THE SECOND ARTICLE.

My husband and I were charmed and annoyed by this missive in equal measure. But maybe our kids were … kind of right? Management posted a response to the refrigerator the next morning, we reached a compromise involving more free time and a less rigorous schedule, and everyone’s lives immediately improved. We still make them take walks, though. —Claire Campbell