Social Distancing With an 11-year-old

One of Gabby’s teachers called to check in on us last week! In the midst of our conversation, I had to take a moment to applaud her for having the desire to be in a classroom full of middle schoolers all-day. I mean, for years, I have wondered how teachers are able to keep kids engaged all day. With the coronavirus pandemic and the imposition of social distancing parents everywhere are being reminded of just how awesome educators really are!  

When my daughter learned that she would be out of school for at least two weeks, her brain immediately shifted to summer vacation mode! She was excited about the unexpected opportunity to game with her cousins until the wee hours of the morning each day. Much to her chagrin, I explained that I had written out a schedule that required her to have no TV, no phone, and no gaming for the first half of the day. Her response- FULL ON MELTDOWN! Unfortunately for her, I have evolved as a mother. Thus, meltdowns no longer phase me. Fortunately for both of us, Gabby’s meltdowns are usually short-lived and we are always able to quickly return to the business at hand. After reviewing the plan and accepting the fact that my idea and her idea of two weeks out of school looked very different she asked a few questions, got her mind right, and got on board.  After all, she knew that peace for her, during this time of social distancing, very much depended on the speed at which she accepted my ideas. 

With that being said, we have been greatly enjoying this time together at home. I am failing miserably at winning the homeschool teacher of the year award but Gabby’s real teachers will be proud to know that I am keeping her mentally engaged. Here are some of the activities I have come up with to ensure Gabby is continuing to live outside of the bubble of gaming, TikTok, and YouTube:

  1. Games. Gabby loves to play board games because she really values time together as a family. Oftentimes my crazy schedule makes me pass off board game duty to her sisters when they are around. This time off made me take a step back, put everything down for a little while, and get my game on with Gabby. We have had a blast playing Connect Four and Uno! Sadly, I know it is just a matter of time before she begs me to play Monopoly with her. Uggghhhhh! 
  2. Documentaries. One of her required activities in our makeshift homeschool is for Gabby to sit down with me and watch the documentary “Hillary”. This is another opportunity for us to spend some time together while feeding Gabby’s brain with new information.
  3. Reading. I believe people’s stories inspire so I have Gabby reading biographies. So far she has read short books on Frida Kahlo and Richard Branson. In order to make sure she is processing the info she either writes short essays or talks to me about what she has read. I try to keep it casual when we are discussing what she has read because I always seem to get better feedback when I am not treating our conversation like the quiz of the century. 
  4. Math Worksheets! Gabby thinks I am a dinosaur because I have a pile of math worksheets printed out for her to complete each day. She is like, “mom, you know there are activities on the computer that can help me with my math?” The old school in me just likes to know that she is doing the work, as well as, coming up with the right answers. Say what you want, math worksheets are always going to be a part of our lives! In case you are wondering I get my antiquated worksheets from This is an excellent site with more than math worksheets available.
  5. Internet Exploration. Sometimes you have to meet kids where they are. And most kids love the internet. Real talk, I LOVE THE INTERNET! As such, I decided to incorporate the internet into my makeshift homeschool lesson plan. Turns out that was a great idea. I had Gabby do a little research to find three women that she found to be interesting. I asked her to identify the women and write down what it was about them that inspired her. She blew me away when she emailed me a google doc she had prepared in response to this assignment. 
  6. Spending time outside without our phones. FUN, FUN, FUN!

Overall, I am just taking this period in our lives day by day! Appreciating this moment to breathe and enjoy my little one. 

If you have little ones in the home with you, what are you doing during this period of social distancing? Please share!

Much love,


Published by Tonza D. Ruffin

Perfectly Imperfect but VERY PROUD WOMAN, MOM, LAWYER, and AUTHOR, but most importantly...LIFE LOVER! I laugh loud, I work hard, I play hard, I am adventurous, I am curious, I am driven, I have moments of deep insecurity, I am loving, I am vulnerable, I am explosive (not one of my finer qualities), I dance around my house alone, I am an awful perfectionist which makes my insecurity worse, I sing out loud in my car without any concern for whose watching, I have trust issues, I do not live through my children, I no longer try to force my children into the mold that I created so that I could feel validated as a mother, I am a risk-taker, I am guarded in my personal life, I am kind, I am grateful. I am so excited about the rest of my life!

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