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213: Supporting Your Kids’ Education at Home (with Danielle Mendoza)

Supporting Your Kids’ Education at Home (with Danielle Mendoza)In the last few weeks, parents have been involuntarily transformed into their children’s teachers. The kitchen table has become the classroom and gym class is in the backyard. Many of us are managing our own work as well as our kids' learning.

Today, I’m joined by spiritual coach and homeschool mom, Danielle Mendoza, to help you let go. Forget what you “should” be doing. For many parents, the pressure of supporting their kids’ education only adds to the stress caused by this pandemic.

The truth is, what you’re providing your kids with right now is invaluable. No, it’s not going to be anything like their school routine. And that’s okay. This is an opportunity to encourage curiosity, hobbies, and student-led learning.

This episode is all about giving you and other parents the permission to let this time be what it is. Not perfect, but still enriching, engaging, and fun. Danielle is a homeschool mom herself and is sharing all her amazing tips and guidance for other parents during this time. You’ll learn how to support your kids' education (of all kinds) without getting stressed out.

Show yourself some extra love – sign up for the Vibrant Happy Women Retreat! Spend 5 days with amazing women like you, letting go of stress and finding greater energy, clarity, and vision for your life. Join us!

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to stop comparing your teaching to school and traditional homeschooling.
  • All the different programs that make homeschooling fun and easy.
  • How to have grace during this time and let go of what you “should” be doing.
  • The value of screen time, screen-free time, and student-led learning.
  • The unexpected benefits of homeschooling for our kids’ mental health.
  • How to become the tribe leader of your family (by taking baby steps).

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Jen Riday: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women Podcast episode number 213. We're talking about supporting your kids' education at home without stressing yourself out. Stay tuned.

Hi, I'm Jen Riday. This podcast is for women who want to feel more vibrant, happy, aligned, and alive. You'll gain the emotional, physical, and spiritual tools you need to get your sparkle back and ensure that depression, anxiety, and struggle don't rule your life. Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women Podcast.

Hey, my friends. I want to send you some extra love today and some extra positivity. I'm coming from you on day 15 of our lockdown/quarantine/safer at home movement here in Wisconsin, and I would say emotionally I'm getting better at this. My anxiety and panic at the beginning of all of this were very, very high, and I feel like I panic less and less often.

Now, that might be a direct correlation with how little I look at social media or the news now, and that I can focus more that way on my family, and on playing with the kids, and on watching something on Netflix, which has been fun. Why not? How are you doing?

I want to give a head nod to all of the nurses working on the front lines right now. Gina, Mercedes, Brenda; Alexis who works in a nursing home. Erica as well on the front lines. I want to send you all my love. Those of you who are nurses, those of you who are engaged in caregiving, or who are exposed, we've got you. We're holding you up energetically. We've got you. Sending you all the love and strength.

Now, today, this episode is especially geared for those of us who are home with kids and trying to help educate our kids as they learn at home or do virtual schooling. A lot of women I've talked to feel stressed and pressured to do it “the right way.” Well, in this episode, you're going to be set free, liberated from those ideas of how you should be doing it or what your school district expects you to do. So, if you want to let go of one more burden, this is the episode for you. Without further ado, let's dive in.

Hey, everybody. I am with Danielle Mendoza, a good friend of mine, today, and she is going to talk to us about some of the ins and outs as a homeschool mom of four years, and she's going to help us feel a lot better and a lot more liberated as we attempt to do our “homeschooling” or “virtual schooling” during this pandemic.

Let me tell you a little bit about Danielle. She is a spiritual coach, and she lives in Neenach, California with her husband, Paul, and her two kids. She is a crazy cat lady, and I'm going to leave it for you right there to explain what that means, Danielle.

Danielle Mendoza: Yeah, so I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for cats and kittens, and every couple of years we rescue a litter. We've had pregnant mamas. We've had as many as 11 cats in our house at one time. So, I think that qualifies as crazy cat lady.

Jen Riday: That is hilarious. Oh, my gosh. Tell everyone about what you do as a coach and the name of your business.

Danielle Mendoza: Definitely. The name of my business is called Be Myself Now, and that's really what I try to do, is help people learn how to live into the truest form of themselves by connecting spiritually with whatever it is that they believe in. We all view spirituality a little bit differently.

Jen Riday: I love that. I kind of do the same thing, but with different words, I think. I love that you call yourself a spiritual coach and teach people to figure out what's inside of them. That's cool. Well, homeschooling. A lot of women and men are freaking out about this.

I've talked to women who feel some guilt that they're not doing it right, or nervousness that they don't know how to do it, or worry that their kids are going to fall behind and won't graduate eventually. I've heard all the things. So, tell us your thoughts about what it really means to homeschool, and make us feel a little better about this because I know you have a really great stance on it.

Danielle Mendoza: First, I just want to share with everyone that this time is so crazy, that this isn't really a true picture of homeschooling for anyone. I've been homeschooling for years, and our homeschooling resources and activities have all been disrupted and limited as well. So, the idea that we're trying to homeschool is a false idea.

We're trying to basically continue education through an uncertain time. So, I think that's what we really mean by homeschooling here, is how can we further help our kids grow academically when they're removed from these systems that supported us for so long in that way.

Jen Riday: I love that you used the word systems because systems provide a structure of how things should be done, and I'm starting to catch a glimpse of this awesome opportunity we have to challenge those shoulds educationally. Tell us, what do you think it means to educate ourselves and our kids? What does that actually mean and how can we get out of that box?

Danielle Mendoza: That's a really good question because we are so comfortable in the systems that we've grown up in. Our parents went through a fairly standard school system. We all went through fairly standard school system, and now, our kids are coming up through that.

But we're starting to see, with the help of the internet and access to more information, that there are other ways of supporting schooling and helping our kids go further. I think the bottom line, what it really comes down to, is just exposure to new stuff and the access to the information, and the technology, and the resources to go deep that really want to know more about and that feeds that curiosity.

Jen Riday: As you said that, I was thinking back to when I was maybe an upper elementary child or a middle school child, and what memories did I have of just exploring. A couple of things come to mind. One was I remember learning how to program something on a computer, which I had forgotten until this very moment, but I was into it, so I did it. My mom just made sure I had the computer.

Another one was picking up my brother's guitar and just learning what to do with it, but those memories stick in my mind because I chose them, and no one made me do it, and I owned it. So, I like that idea that you shared of maybe providing the resources for them to go deeper. How do you do that with your kids?

Danielle Mendoza: I definitely rely on the internet, and that's something that we can all rely on right now. Things are crazy, but the internet is still there for us, thank goodness. I use a lot of different programs for my kids to help foster their interests in music, science, coding, other academics like math, things that feel a little more boring to kids sometimes.

There's a lot of great resources out there that make them feel like games, and feel really interactive and engaging. So, I give my kids the freedom to find what works for them within those subjects so that they can feel good like they've taken ownership of their schooling, and they want to sit down and participate in this program instead of me telling them like, “Okay, it's time for multiplication.” Then everyone's, “Ugh,” the collective groan. It happens at home too.

Jen Riday: That’s really cool. Tell us the outline of what it looks like just so we can get an idea of all the possibilities. This is just one example we understand.

Danielle Mendoza: Totally, just one example. What we've found that works for us is a lot of autonomous learning, student-led learning. When I give them the chance to follow their own enthusiasms and curiosities, they are way more engaged than when I'm trying to tell them what to do.

So, the first hour of the day is for academics, and they engage in electronic academics. What I consider academics is the four core subjects: reading and language arts, math, science, and social studies. My kids are younger too. They're in the elementary years. So, those are the main four subjects for elementary aged kids.

They pick something like BrainPOP or MobyMax. There's different online programs. Adventure Academy, which is the older version of ABCmouse. Those are all really good ones that they can choose from, and they know that what they choose to do today for that hour has to be different than what they did yesterday, and tomorrow they have to do something different than that.

We've really built in this idea that variety is key, and the kids know that, so they're not bogging themselves down into one hole because they love a particular game or something like that. Then we take a few hours, three hours in our house, to do no electronics. We call that 10:00 to 1:00, and the kids have to get off of their electronics and do some kind of enrichment that is just an activity like something a kid would do. Crafting, playing music, dancing, running around outside even.

Sometimes they take a bit of that time to do their chores as well, and we're totally okay with that because that's part of community responsibility and contribution, and they're learning through those things too. So, we just let that be part of the time organically. Then at 1:00, they can go back on electronics for what we call electronic enrichment, and that's anything outside of the four academic categories. Things like coding, foreign languages. We have like Rosetta Stone. Our coding app this year's Tynker. We've also used the subscription box called Bitsbox for coding. Very interactive online stuff they can do, and they're ready to just pick up and get into it because they've had three hours without electronics, but it's still something that's guided. We give them options, and again, we reinforce that idea of variety, but it's really all up to them.

Jen Riday: How old are your kids, just to paint that picture more clearly? I think I can tell they're elementary age.

Danielle Mendoza: My son is in 3rd grade, and he is just about to turn eight, and my daughter is in 5th grade, and she's ten and a half.

Jen Riday: Okay, cool. That's awesome. First off, can you give us a list of your favorite online resources that we can put in the show notes?

Danielle Mendoza: I would say the first I want to recommend people is Moby. It’s integrated with the curriculums that the school systems use. So, it has the levels of learning that people are looking for.

What I love about MobyMax specifically is as your student plays the games and does the activities, it assesses them and sees where their weak spots are as compared to that school district curriculum, and it gives them more activities to foster those weak points instead of allowing them to constantly choose things that they're strong at.

That is really helpful for periods of time like this where you're worried about your kid falling behind, or you feel like they have some catching up to do because the programming creates that funnel that takes them to things they need to work on. It's really, really helpful as a parent. It's very hands off.

Jen Riday: I love that. Sounds like Khan Academy as well, but for younger kids.

Danielle Mendoza: It's a little bit more interactive.

Jen Riday: Okay, MobyMax.

Danielle Mendoza: Then I love Adventure Academy and Prodigy. Prodigy is for math only, and Adventure Academy does math and language arts, and they're both game-based platforms. Your child has a character in this virtual world, and their friends can have characters in this virtual world too, and they can meet up.

So, my kids like to play with their cousins. They'll FaceTime on their iPads while they're playing Prodigy on the computer, and they sort of meet up in that world, and there's a little bit of a chat box, but it's predetermined statements.

It's very protected for their age level. It's very like an appropriate introduction to this idea of being online with real people and chatting with them. It's very, very protected. So, I feel like it's safe, and I know who my kids are talking to.

Jen Riday: I love that you're mentioning online things. I think we've all discovered kids' attention is riveted a little better with online things. My kids learned their math through a game called Timez Attack. It taught them way faster and better than anything I could've done. I could see that immediately. So, we also know you have a business. How do you see the benefits of this online form of learning with having a business and taking care of yourself in a time like this?

Danielle Mendoza: Well, with student-led learning, they're really those hours to take care of themselves. I know during their hour of academics and their hour of electronic enrichment, I have a solid hour for myself to sit down and get some work done as well because they're engrossed. They're feeling that enthusiasm for being on their electronics and playing these games even though they are learning. So, it's really hands off for me.

Then those middle hours where they're not on their electronics, sometimes that takes a little more engagement from me. So, I try to be more flexible in that time with my work, but often, they're happy an hour at a time finding something to do, going outside. Once they get into a project, they're pretty good at managing it on their own.

A lot of that too has required me to just let go of control. Let them do things wrong. Let them make a mess. Let them clean it up. Not even jump in and be like, “Oh, no. You made this mess.” Just letting them do their own thing for a couple of hours and learning to work through the consequences, positive or negative, of whatever they happen to be doing in that time.

Jen Riday: That's amazing. I love that. It's not easy, but do feel like you got better at that letting go over time with practice, or is it a trait you’re just born with?

Danielle Mendoza: It took time. When we first started homeschooling, I did what everyone does, and that's try to recreate school at home. That never works because you're not in the school environment. It's just different. They engage differently from home than they do in a classroom of 20 or 30 kids.

I just allow myself that space, and it's taken a long time to get there, but I've learned that what we do, we just do a little bit differently, and that's okay. I don't have to pay attention to what should be going on. If my house should look a certain way. I totally let go of that.

We're home all day long. That's not something that happens when your kids are in school. There's so much more messes going on. If you've ever seen a classroom at the end of the day, it's insane. Your home just becomes that way when it becomes a classroom as well.

Jen Riday: That's true. That's true. A lot of people are feeling stuck in the middle of letting their kids learn freely in the ways that they're interested in, like you talked about. It sounds beautiful, by the way, versus, “Oh, no. We're going to eventually be back at school. What if I totally dropped the ball, and they're behind everyone else?” How would you recommend we figure out this dilemma?

Danielle Mendoza: I would stay first to recognize that everyone is going to be behind the ball. There's not going to be an even education going on because we don't have everyone engaging in the same system. The system is like a nice, neat stack of papers that we've thrown in the air. There's just papers everywhere, and we're pulling what we can to make it work and put it back in order.

Just giving ourselves that break of like, “It's okay. It's not going to look the same.” Then understanding when we’re using these online programs, a lot of them are built around the school year. There's one called Discovery K12 that's free, that's online, that is an entire year of curriculum for each grade level, and it's totally free.

So, you can just go pull from there and see what are we learning today? Is it matching up with this day's worksheet? That's a resource you can use, but you can also just acknowledge that what do you really want for them in this time? Are you really trying to take your 3rd grader into 4th grade, or are you trying to just make sure that they are staying calm, and that they aren't losing what they've learned already. We can do those things by engaging with these online games and stuff.

You'd be surprised how much these kids learn. I was so worried when I first started homeschooling, and I homeschool through a public charter. So, we still take state standardized testing. I don't teach to the test, but I do like it as an assessment tool to see where my kids are and where they're growing. Every year, my kids test at or above grade level, and they've even both skipped a grade level.

So, I know that this process of freeing the education to let them choose through these games and these things that have their own structure established is successful. As long as we're not putting too much of that expectation on ourselves to have perfect test scores and have it come out exactly right. This really isn't the time for that.

Jen Riday: I agree. So, you hinted that even right now, your normal forms of homeschool aren't happening. Tell us what your normal homeschool is versus what's happening now with the pandemic.

Danielle: I shared our kind of regular at-home day, but we spend a lot of days out in the community participating in things. Our charter homeschool does have a whole network of field trips all over the State of California. So, we would do a lot of those. We’d do a lot of volunteering. My kids go to a lot of classes like a swim class, chess, and all those kinds of things. That's all canceled.

There's even an academy that's run through the charter school where the kids can go once a week to visit with other kids and engage in enriching activities, but that's all canceled. So, even my kids are being very disrupted with like, “Oh, what do you mean we can't do this?” The schedule is off, our rhythms aren't there, and we're just having to discover a new way to move through all of this just like everyone else.

Jen Riday: I've been kind of toying with the idea of, “Hey, let's forget about school a little at least and start thinking about what do I want them to learn right now that they might not be able to learn when they are enrolled in school all day?” What are these amazing skills that they could gain right now? Speak a little bit to the opportunities there.

Danielle Mendoza: There's definitely an opportunity to engage in what the homeschooling community knows as unschooling, and it's this idea of just living life and all the things that we learn through living our daily life. Especially with kids being in school all day, right now, being at home, they have this opportunity to learn about sewing, and cooking, and paper crafts.

Even hobbies that you have as a parent that they're not generally exposed to. You have a chance to show them what your hobby life looks like because now they're home alongside you as well. You're showing them when you're reading, or you're exposing them to different kinds of music, or podcasts, or things that you're listening to typically during the day when they're not there. So, you're living alongside each other, and there's just so much more exposure going on in their world in a different way than there ever has been.

Jen Riday: My two youngest are 6 and 10. I just see a lot of play. The requirement for that to happen is I have to have, like you do, these hours where all the screens are turned off. So, speak to that. We, as parents, are experiencing, many of us, significant emotions and swings of ups and downs. One method might be to stress ourselves out even further and try to do this perfect form of homeschooling, or we can just facilitate our kids learning like you said, and focus on taking care of ourselves and feeling good in the process. So, speak a little bit about how you balance out self-care and all the opportunities we have without only giving screens. How do you balance all of that?

Danielle Mendoza: Yeah, so I will start by saying my kids do a lot of screen time compared to what most people feel comfortable with for their kids, but I feel okay with that. I grew up with a brother who played a lot of video games and was really into computers in the early and mid-90s and that was seen as like a waste of time by a lot of people. But my mom never treated it that way.

She was like, “Okay, this is something you’re interested in, how can I support this in a healthy way?” She did that and my brother became a computer programmer and he’s got a great job. It just was kind of amazing to watch this develop. With her own sense of letting go of judgment he was able to make it a really positive thing and so I’ve tried to do that with my own kids. My son loves video games I think like most people, my daughter, too, but not as much.

But he spends a lot of time playing video games, but in the process of that he has grown to develop this understanding of game theory that is so innate that it blows my mind. He can play these games that are made for adults, like card games even, he loves to play Magic: The Gathering and he understands the game sometimes better than the adults around who are playing with him.

So, it’s pretty amazing to see how that’s developed and in seeing that through my brother and then now in my own son I’m able to let go of the guilt of this idea that it’s going to somehow ruin them, or it’s going to somehow turn out to be a horrible thing. We just don’t know that. We can’t say that we know what their world is going to look like and we can’t say that we know what kind of skills they’re going to need.

I mean when I was in school the idea that every kid would have an iPad in school and need to know how to use it was just absurd. The computer classes were optional. So, for us to assume that we know what their future is going to look like is really arrogant and we’ve got to let go of that idea. In letting go of that we can start to let go of these expectations because all of those expectations are formed in our world as it is right now.

Jen Riday: I kind of agree. So, as I’ve let my kids play, they’ve been doing some Super Mario Bros. on I guess it’s called the WiiU, would that be accurate? That tells you what I know.

Danielle Mendoza: Yes.

Jen Riday: Watching them, they’re all, the four youngest, so 15 on down, they’re all playing it together and they’re trying to beat the game. I just have such fond memories of doing that with my brothers and I remember a series of days one summer when I was probably 16 playing for 12 hours a day to beat that game and that’s crazy, but my mom let me and I still remember it because we were so into it.

So, I don’t really remember screen time as this giant waste as much as fun. So, I started to think, “Okay, when this pandemic is all over, what memories do I want my kids to have of our time at home together?” Number one I decided that they remember it as fun. Memories of bonding together as a family, so for me the schoolwork is so on the backburner. Even though we’re going to do it, I don’t have a problem missing some.

I know they’re at grade-level, they already were, and I highly doubt any school is going to fail kids during a pandemic or they’re going to get sued. So, I’m like, yes, this is a serious time and it could be scary, but my kids will never forget it. Like my guest Laura Froyen said a while ago. So everyone listening your kids will never forget this. So what memories do you want to create? Should the schooling be such a priority?

I love that you kind of painted the picture of unschooling, because we can call it schooling even if it’s basic life skills that they’re learning, you know?

Danielle Mendoza: I like to think about how much health they’re catching up on right now. That was one big thing that I noticed when we switched from a standard brick and mortar school to homeschool was my kids got so much more sleep and we know how crucial sleep is to growing, to emotional regulation, to mental retention, I mean all of that is influenced by our sleep levels.

Not having to wake my kids up in the morning and not having to stress about them going to bed perfectly on time at night has made such a huge difference in our family rituals and in their just regular emotional state and how they feel about these things. They love going to bed when they’re tired. No one’s fighting it. No one’s like, “Ugh, it’s bed time because I have to.” We sort of live like we’re on vacation and it’s just a healthy, less stress, more opportunity to give ourselves those things that really feed our bodies and feed our souls and give us that base to spring from that we can even learn and remember what we’re learning and be interested.

Jen Riday: I have heard a lot of women, my friends, saying their kids seem a bit happier now and I am finding mental health-wise my kids did not – okay, I’ll admit the first day of our quarantine here in Wisconsin I felt like everyone was pacing like caged tigers. My teenager would like once in a while growl. He was like, “This is going to be my life? Are you kidding me?”

But quickly, I would say within four days we settled in and really I feel the stress is down. My daughter who is 10, her anxiety is very far down because she doesn’t have constant pressure to perform and she can just play and do. I found her outside the other day just lying in our garden in her coat alone and realized, wow, she almost never gets time like that ever in her life.

It’s really making me analyze all of those shoulds and all of those systems and everything that’s happening. It’s going to be really interesting for me to question which parts of “regular society” that I want to allow back versus not.

Danielle Mendoza: Yeah, because all that pressure is really hard on our kids and when do they have the time to lay in garden and just be still with their thoughts? That’s not something that’s been created as a space in our go, go, go everyday world. It’s like get up in the morning, get the kids to school, get to work, and then you pick up the kids or someone else does and you manage to get home from work hopefully for dinner, or if you are home after school then it’s like, off to after-school activities and homework.

There just really isn’t any time to slow down and breathe. Often even on their school breaks teachers are like, “Well, I know you have break so work on this paper over the break.” It’s like, when is the actual break? Then as adults we get to this point where we’re crazed and burnt out and one of the first things we learn is that we have to make time for stillness and we have to relearn that all over again and make space for it in our lives.

Jen Riday: That is hilarious. Right now would’ve been our spring break and I was thinking, “What would we be doing right now?” We wouldn’t be schooling, but we would be going and going and going because we hadn’t yet learned the art of slowing down, so we would be constantly filling the time and, oh look what we did on our spring break, and we did this. I would know that there’s a pressure to go back to school and report on what they did at their spring break so I better at least have a few fun things.

So, I’ve been saying to my kids, “Are you guys bored?” They’re like, “No.” Two of my kids are already saying, “We just want to keep doing it this way, Mom. We want to keep learning at home.” I still have resistance so I’ll probably send them back, but the day might come. Danielle teases me that I should homeschool someday, or unschool someday.

Okay, we’ve talked about lots of great ideas and I hope everyone listening is letting go of any stress and shoulds you’re putting on yourself from the outside and ask yourself the question, what do you want your kids to learn during this pandemic time separate from education? Is it cooking? Is it doing their chores? Is it learning about plants in the yard? Is it pet care? I don’t know, whatever it is and talk to them about what they want to learn.

But then a bigger question is what do you want them to remember from this time? What feelings do you want them to remember? What do you want to feel? So, Danielle, how would you answer those questions for yourself? During a pandemic, what do you want your kids to learn and feel, and what do you hope to learn and feel and remember?

Danielle Mendoza: I think I want my kids to learn to take the bigger picture in a time like this. There’s a lot going on around us and we’re all very concerned about this virus, but there’s a lot of other things that are happening as a result of the measures we’ve taken to try to deal with this virus and there are people being economically disaffected and things like that. So, we try to bring attention to that for our kids so that they understand that we’re in this together. There’s a sense of solidarity.

We haven’t been too affected. My husband and I both work from home and both of our jobs are still stable and kids school from home, so there’s been things cancelled, but other than that life goes on as usual for us, but that’s not the case for a lot of people out there and there’s stuff that we can do to help people maintain a sense of humanity in the process of going through the big, negative things that they’re experiencing.

So, I really like for them to learn that community responsibility and the idea that we are all in this together and that it is a global community. I think this is one of the biggest experiences we’ve had as a truly global community and it’s kind of a magical thing as negative as it is for our kids to see that we are all in this together.

Jen Riday: So, how are you helping your kids see that? Do you talk about it a lot? Are you volunteering? What can you do during a pandemic?

Danielle Mendoza: We do talk about it. We talk about it in the sense of people we know. So we talk about who’s safe and we talk about the good things that still are there for people who have been disaffected and then we talk about how we are helping, how we can step in and the good things that we’ve done to help brighten someone’s spirits, or help them get groceries, or help them just stay in this game that we’re all moving through even though we’ve all hit the pause button collectively a lot of it still has to go on.

So, just helping the kids see that people are out there to help. There are community people who are ready to step up and lead and be strong and be positive and reach out to everyone who can’t seem to find it in themselves to do those things right now.

Jen Riday: I love that. That’s really cool. Yeah, in our area our kids have the chance to sew masks so we’re thinking about it. I don’t sew, but hey, why not?

Danielle Mendoza: It’s a good time to learn.

Jen Riday: So, many of our listeners are still juggling with their own emotions. I just heard a friend say prior to the pandemic I always said, “I wish I had more time to clean my house.” Then she said, “Now, after a week of quarantine I realize that wasn’t the reason.” It cracked me up. So, that just kind of illustrates motivation levels to be a gung-ho homeschool mom or an unschool mom or to do all of these things with kids, motivation levels might not be at their peak as we as parents are navigating so many emotions.

Any advice on baby steps? The smallest baby steps? Let’s say someone listening has just been completely AWOL emotionally and allowed her kids a ton, a ton, a ton of screen time, no education, and I’m on spring break right now and that’s us for several hours of our day just because why not? What would be a baby step to feel like we used this time well?

Danielle Mendoza: I would say the first step would be to schedule screen-free time. So, we have our 10:00 to 1:00 hours and it wasn’t easy when we first started. We got push back from the kids, of course, but the key is to engage in it with them. Put your own screen away, pull out a board game, pull out a book, something. You don’t have to do something with them exactly, but start doing your own thing that’s screen-free and they’ll follow suit.

We’re very tribal as humans and we forget that sometimes as well that we can sort of engage our tribe but we lead the way. We are the ones who are establishing, so if we’re on our phone, if I’m telling them, “Go play, go find something to do,” but I’m going to be on my phone working they’re like, “Wait a minute. This doesn’t fit. We’re separating ourselves here,” and they want to feel connected. They want to feel cohesive.

So, if I’m like, it’s 10:00 to 1:00 it’s screen-free time and I start washing some dishes and throw in some laundry or even just writing in my journal, they’re like, “Oh okay, this is what we’re doing right now,” and they tend to follow suit much easier, but at first I did have to engage them more. I did have to say, “Okay, it’s 10:00 to 1:00 let’s play a board game,” and we’d spend the first 45 minutes playing a board game together and then they would find something to do on their own.

But I think that’s the easiest to start relieving the guilt and also relieving the emotional pressure that kids build up when they’re on screens all the time. Because that’s one of the biggest reasons we don’t want them on all the time, they become emotional monsters once they’re off.

Jen Riday: Yes.

Danielle Mendoza: They need that cooldown time and that’s a good sign to us that it’s too much and so just giving ourselves that window that I know that we did 10:00 to 1:00 today and the kids went outside and ran around and poked on the cat, whatever that wasn’t on a video game. I’m like, “Okay, that’s good enough,” and I let the rest of the day be what it will be. Just give myself the grace to be okay with it.

Jen Riday: Yes, I love this. Well, everyone, I hope you took something positive and helpful away from this conversation and, Danielle, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. I am going to figure out family-wide screen-free time for us and one last comment. I want to challenge everyone listening to step back and consider yourself a tribal leader. What wisdom and experiences are you going to facilitate and what knowledge will you pass on during this interesting time of being a tribe?

I’ll leave it right there, but Danielle, thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate it.

Danielle Mendoza: Thanks, Jen. We’re all a tribe, too, so if anyone has any questions, they can feel free to message me.

Jen Riday: Yes, tribe, I love that. How would they reach you if they wanted to get in touch?

Danielle Mendoza: Yeah, I can be found on Facebook at BeMyselfNow or on Instagram @BeMyself.Now or you can email me at

Jen Riday: You guys, I just want to give a little plug, Danielle is a very spiritually intuitive and wise person. She’s Christian as well, so if you want to explore your spirituality during this time and gain insight with your intuition and inner knowing, I think she is awesome for guiding that. So, definitely reach out to her. Well, thanks again, Danielle. I appreciate you.

Danielle Mendoza: Thank you, Jen, thank you so much.

I love how Danielle gives us permission to do what feels right for us. If there has ever been a time when we should do it the way we want this is the time. If you feel so inclined it’s an absolutely fine time to ditch some of those shoulds put upon you by your school district. I know I’m such a rebel citing Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies. I really am. I’m a questioner, a rebel. This is easy for me, but your kids are always going to remember this and what is most important for you and for them in terms of learning right now?

My 16-year-old is learning the guitar, my 12-year-old daughter is learning to knit. They are baking amazing things, they’re doing gardening. Practical real-life skills, it’s beautiful, it’s amazing. Why not take charge of this time and make sure you all feel the way you want to feel and remove some of that extra pressure. You’ve got this. Well, I’m sending you all my love, all of you whether you’re sick, whether you’re not, whether you know someone else who’s sick or who isn’t, we’ve got this.

This is the place for love and not fear. We can try our best to stay in the energy of love and if you’re struggling with that, that’s okay. The rest of us will lift you up. We are the Vibrant Happy Women and we’ve got you. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll be back again next week to support you even more on this Coronavirus journey and I love you. Take care, my friends.

If you enjoy this podcast, you have to check out the Vibrant Happy Women Club. It’s my monthly group coaching program where we take all this material to the next level and to get you the results that will blow your mind. Join me in the Vibrant Happy Women Club at


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About jen

Jen Riday is a mom of 6 and life coach who loves to help women experience massive happiness as they let go of stress, sadness or other chronic emotions of negativity.

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