“Time Out” tips & tricks from Gen X

By Professor of Criminal Justice Kristi Edwards

On November 23, 2020, we will experience a very necessary “time out” from in-person classes and events at Newman University. Our classes will proceed to their natural end game, brilliantly and virtually, and the business of everyday college life will change. No longer will campus be a lovely sanctuary full of masked friends and bubbling, educational excitement. Spending quality time together will, once again, become a matter of strategy and technology. Taking care of yourself will, once again, become a matter of creativity and determination.

Are you ready?

On behalf of Generation X, I have insight to share. These are the important nuggets my generation learned growing up without adult supervision (yes!) the internet (gasp!) or extracurricular activities (no!)

Here is the rub: I promise that you can thoroughly rock the eight-week “time out” if you adopt an open mind and an open heart.

Truthfully, if you open your mind and heart to the following valuable lessons that my generation learned from being latchkey kids, then I promise you will flourish during this “time out.”

How to be a ‘Latchkey Kid’

Both of my parents worked, full time, outside of the home. To say they were busy is an understatement. In fact, both of my parents were first-generation college students and nurses. They wanted a good life, to save lives, and to live the American Dream. As a result, I was a latchkey kid.

A ‘latchkey kid’ is commonly defined as a child who is often left at home with no adult supervision because their parents are away at work.

While my parents were at work, I was responsible for getting to and from school as well as finishing my homework every day. No one asked me about my homework or took me to practice. There were no snacks or crafts, and every day I arrived home after school to a list of chores.

My parents had a job (save lives!) and I had a job (learn stuff!) We made it work by having clearly defined expectations, high standards and mutual respect.

Honestly, the key to being a successful latchkey kid is simple: Live up to the expectations of the people who love you, hold yourself to a standard of excellence and respect that everyone has an important job.

Ask yourself: What do my loved ones expect from me during my time away from campus? As the Karen that loves you, I can provide guidance: I expect you to finish this semester strong and keep learning while we are apart. Get the good grade, read the big book and study all of the social issues. Think critically about everything, including your future and exactly how you can achieve your greatness.

Ask yourself: how can I hold myself to a standard of excellence?

Having spent a lifetime striving for excellence, I have a trick you can use. Make a list, check it twice, and then you will find out exactly how awesome you can be when you achieve. Seriously. Give yourself a list of chores. Every. Single. Day. Finish the list, and then make a new one. Always have a goal, even if it is as simple as “GET OUT OF BED.”

Finally, and this is the hardest part, make peace with your part (i.e. job) to play in this social experiment. Decisions have been made that you may not like, may not yet understand, and you must trust that every decision has been made with your best interest at heart. Respect the decision, and you will find peace.

In fact, this last piece of the latchkey puzzle is inarguably the most important one of all. Research on the latchkey experience clearly demonstrates that understanding (which is not the same as agreeing) why your parents have to work provides a solid foundation upon which a child can find a sense of the fun while they are home alone.

As a faculty member who wholeheartedly supports the decision to move to remote learning, I am going to explain my decision in the hope it helps you respect it.

Honestly, I think it is important for us to move to remote learning because none of us know exactly what will happen if we, or our loved one, becomes infected with COVID-19.

Truly, no one can tell YOU how your body will react. No one can tell you how MY body will react.

We simply do not have enough experience with this virus to reliably forecast what the infection will do to any of us and, more importantly, we do not know what will happen to our community if we are all simultaneously infected.

Why am I going to leave you home alone for eight-weeks, my dearest child? I am doing it because I know about the flu season and, trust me, it stinks.  If COVID-19 follows the pattern of the flu, we must move to remote learning on November 23, 2020, because our Newman family must brace for the “viral hurricane.”

What we are doing by moving to remote learning is proactive, simple, and really important. I promise. We are playing for spring and summer, and many more semesters together.

As for finding a sense of fun during your ‘time-out,’ please try these five tricks (a.k.a. what I did after school every day): (1) Finish your homework; (2)  Exercise; (3) Listen to music; (4) Eat a healthy snack; and (5) Call your people on the phone.

In fact, you can call me at 867-5309. Remember to ask for Jenny.

Stay safe, my friends, and we will all be together again on Dolly Parton’s birthday, January 19, 2021.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo,