Finding the gift of family time during pandemic

In March, there was one family at H-E-B with two loaded shopping carts, and the family wasn’t hoarding. The King family was just getting enough to feed their 12 members.

Nothing is a small undertaking for the King family of Dripping Springs. Managing time, they say, requires the use of a spreadsheet

A family with children ranging from ages two to 17 have adjusted their lives like the rest of local residents, only that adjusting for the Kings took a spreadsheet to organize. Overall, Tracy King said they have learned to make the most by spending quality time together.

“I feel like we have a lot of faith that things are going to work out and that this time truly does have a purpose. And so we, we kind of just appreciated what we were able to find and use it wisely,” she said.

Their day begins with breakfast and bible time to reflect on character traits like service and respect. Supportive character traits are the values that keep the household going, King said.

“As we’re raising them, you know, see a need to meet a need, we say that a lot in our house. And so I think our kids’ hearts are just kind and they are helpers at heart. They have servant hearts,” King said.

Keeping nine children up to date with their online classes is too much to handle for two parents, who are also trying to keep up with their work as Dripping Springs ISD employees. Chris is defensive coordinator coach
at Dripping Springs High school and Tracy is the behavior interventionist with Dripping Springs ISD.

 

Fortunately, older children take some teaching shifts if their parents are working. A spreadsheet filled with parent and older children’s availability is kept on a clipboard. If the adults can’t help a younger child with their school lesson, an older child will step in.

“They do it with willing hearts without us really asking. And so I think we have a good thing going with our family dynamic, it’s really a sweet thing,” Tracy King said.

Time isn’t the only thing they have to manage when it comes to online education. They borrowed four devices from Dripping Springs ISD, which are mostly used by the older students.

Internet bandwidth can be spread thin, but the smaller kiddos have “three recesses,” according to one of the younger kids. They go outside to play three times a day, often to the relief of everyone else trying to catch
up on their own work.

Tracy King said her job with the school gives her an advantage. She understands the programs her kids use and has relationships with their teachers.

When the day winds down, the Kings spend a lot of time cooking together and enjoying the hidden blessings.

“We’re really thankful just for the blessing of the extra time to really slow down and take a look at what’s going on around us and what’s going on right inside of our own home and how we can just be more intentional with our family,” King said.

Communication is how the Kings make time intentional, by asking what their kids need the most.

“We ask ‘do you need a new spiral notebook for all the schooling you’re doing? Or do you need to go on a walk with mom. You know, like do you need just some time alone away or you know, do you need to go on a drive,’” Tracy King said.

Tracy King said the biggest thing she has learned during these strange times is to go easy on yourself.

“Give yourself grace and to give grace to your family because none of us have ever really walked this road before,” she said. “Someone taught me a long time ago that unmet expectations equal disappointment. So if I
put a bunch of expectations on myself, or my family, and they don’t get met, because this is something we’ve never done before. Flexible expectations are knowing everything won’t go the way we thought, but that’s okay.”

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