COVID-19: Staying Home with Your Kiddos
Many of us are not used to staying home with our kids full-time, having to home-school, and still continuing to keep up with our own workload. With libraries, movie theaters, trampoline parks, and Chick-fil-A playgrounds closed as well as lots of wet weather on the horizon, the next couple of months may be very stressful and frustrating for parents and kids alike.
As a mom who has worked full-time from home with 2 very busy kids (and no nanny :), I hope this list gives you some useful ideas on how to manage life well, rather than just survive:
1. Schedule- Our kids are kept on a very clear routine at school and they are used to it. Take advantage of that! Ask them what their schedule is like and make a plan together for a routine that will work for both their needs and your work schedule. Allowing kids to be a part of the planning gives them a sense of ownership and commitment to the plan and teaches them how to make schedules.
Work in independent play, learning games on iPads/Computers, and even educational shows strategically according to your work needs to be sure that you will have focused time to accomplish tasks and or participate in webinars/meetings.
I saw a Facebook post yesterday with a back up, emergency plan for phone/online meetings: Keep a bowl of treats you know your kids like at your workstation and if they barge in during a meeting you can’t miss, buy yourself a few more minutes by throwing the treats out the door and lock the door!
Once you have a plan, have them write it down or type it (if they can), post it on the fridge or somewhere that works for your family, and try to stick to it. Review it each morning and discuss what that day looks like.
Note: Kind of like don’t wake a sleeping baby- be flexible with the schedule a bit when possible- don’t interrupt your kids when they are doing well playing independently together! Take this as an added bonus to your time to get an extra task done.
Here’s a good schedule making resource: https://busytoddler.com/2020/03/daily-schedule-covid-19/
2. Free Learning Resources- Many of the teachers are providing work for kiddos to take home, but for those that haven’t yet or didn’t provide enough to keep your kiddos busy, check out these free online resources:
Most schools have online resources that keep track of student’s progress as well that your kids access when at school...ask them about it and see if you can find them together.
Just a reminder that academic learning may not be the most important focus during this time. It is very important and should be a part of the day, but you can offer many additional valuable life skills to your kids during this time. If you don’t already involve your kids in household chores and home maintenance, now would be a good time and it will benefit both of you!
3. Fun- Now is a good time to dust off the board games, card games, fort building supplies (i.e. sheets), and dress up clothes. Impromptu dance parties, at home spa treatments, and pretending certain tiles are hot lava while trying to get from one place to the next can really break up the monotony!
Definitely, make sure you get outside for some vitamin D and fresh air as much as possible between rain sessions to improve moods, but there are tons of fun, free things to do when stuck inside.
As a part of the schedule you build, consider including themes for certain days. Your curriculum, art, tv time, exercise, and food could all center around the day’s theme. The learning and fun possibilities are endless. Here is a link with lots of theme ideas and a themed weekly planner tool: https://karacarrero.com/weekly-learning-themes/
After studying different parts of the country or world, you could plan a trip to visit one of the places this summer assuming COVID-19 will be a memory by then. This would be a fun way to infuse culture and geography into the next couple months. Here are a couple articles on how to involve your kids in vacation planning: https://kidsareatrip.com/7-fun-ways-to-involve-kids-in-vacation-planning/
4. Creativity- My mother-in-law once told me how much she appreciates that I let my kids get bored. Boredom breeds creativity...sometimes, really great ideas and sometimes not so much! Finding a balance is important.
Simply by not running around to all the birthday parties, soccer games, and dance competitions naturally will bring some boredom, but you need to be prepared for that. Have some ideas ready for your kids when they start complaining about how bored they are. Here’s a few ideas:
Encourage your kids to work together to research something and write a play about it. They can work on gathering supplies to make props and costumes, assign cast roles, and prep a great show for Friday night entertainment.
Let them write and illustrate a book. Encourage older kids to use a dictionary to be sure they are spelling correctly and let younger kiddos draw pictures and dictate their story to you so you can write. I let my kindergartener trace after I have written his words. Instead of drawing, they can use magazines to find pictures to go along with their story.
When it's not raining outside, set up a painting or sketching station outside and let them try to capture some of the springtime popping up all around us. Or, when it is wet outside, check out this link for step by step painting instruction for kids: https://stepbysteppainting.net/2018/06/28/painting-for-kids
5. Food Management- If your kids are like mine, they will want to eat ALL day long when they are home. With grocery store shelves empty and social distancing requirements, managing your food will be important during this time. If you don’t normally, now would be a good time to meal plan.
Making a strategic plan to utilize your ingredients helps to reduce food waste and is also a great way to get your kids involved. Let them help decide which meals to make and research recipes. Following recipes is great for math, especially fractions, and reading as well as teaching them the basic life skill of cooking.
Check out this link for a meal planning chart and kid-friendly recipes: https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/kid-friendly-recipes-free-weekly-meal-plan-printable/
*Another tip for conserving food with kids at home is to have them pack their lunch and snacks just like they were going to school; this can help to eliminate extra, unnecessary snacking.
6. Rest Time- Even if they don’t need it, you probably will! This doesn’t have to require sleep, rather room time away from one another. Even if your kids are the best of friends and are always respectful and fun to be around…(which mine are not :), too much togetherness can make anyone go crazy.
Make sure the schedule you create includes time with kids in their rooms relaxing with a book, music, legos, etc. so they can emotionally and mentally reset for a great afternoon. Just this alone can help you to maintain your sanity!
To eliminate the in and out to ask when it’s over which will inevitably interrupt the fews seconds of deep sleep you just fell into, agree to a time frame and set an alarm for them so they know when it is time to be done.
7. Rewards- In an attempt to keep these next couple months as positive as possible, you will need to have some ideas to keep your kids motivated and maybe you too! As every parenting book teaches, threats don’t work!
There is a lot of debate out there about whether rewards are positive for child development in the long run. But, I would say in these uncharted times, focusing on the fact that the strategy may reinforce positive behavior and help us keep our sanity might be the way to look at the debate.
So be creative, and again, involve your kids in determining a plan that will keep them motivated to get their school work done, limit arguing, and help with keeping the house as orderly as possible. It does not need to cost a lot of money, if any at all. For example, my daughter longs for one-on-one time with me as that is often a very scarce resource in our home, so I may offer 1 hour alone with mommy playing whatever she wants as a goal to work towards on her chart.
Extra dessert, choice of the movie for family movie night, one week off from a chore they don’t like, half an hour of extra iPad time, and choice of what’s for dinner are all easy, cost effective ideas. Maybe you could use the idea mentioned above of going on a family vacation after the virus threat subsides as a grand prize reward to work towards. That may, at least, keep you motivated :)
Here’s a link on creating a reward system:
8. Grace- You are going to need to give a LOT of this over the next few weeks...and much of it will need to be toward yourself! First things first, it is OK to let your house cleaning fall behind these next couple of weeks. Make an intentional choice now to not worry about that in a time like this!!
Being cooped up with more than normal together-time can cause a lot of messes as well as emotions. Make sure to talk openly about how you are feeling with your kids and check in with them to see how they are feeling - before one of you blows up. I like to ask my kids - How’s your heart feeling? And, then ask if they want to know how my heart is feeling.
However, even with the best efforts, it's likely inevitable that there will be meltdowns and that is normal and okay. Give each other and yourself the gift of grace. If learning to do this is the only thing a child learns over the next couple months, it will serve them well for the rest of their life and will be time well used!
8. Safety- Staying home is one way to improve safety, but the truth is it isn’t a bullet proof strategy! There will be times when one or all of you will need to venture out and may be exposed to COVID-19 as well as the many other viruses that exist. Not to mention that someone in our families may have already been exposed but not displaying symptoms yet.
So remembering to keep your guard up at home is important. Social distancing can be important even with close family and friends. But, if getting together is still necessary, don’t be afraid to ask everyone that comes into your home to wash their hands upon entering and provide tissue boxes in the areas you will be gathering.
Sanitizing the most commonly touched surfaces in your home at least once a day is also a good idea.
Five Star Restoration provides cleaning and sanitizing services after water, mold, and fire related damage occurs. Our certified team of technicians are always available to answer any questions you may have about environmental cleaning options, techniques, products, and personal safety protection that should be used during such cleaning.
While we are actively praying that this virus does not impact our local community of Southwest Riverside County, we always want to be a resource if the need arises . Call us any time, day or night, at 951.368.2227 if you have questions about COVID-19 related cleaning or if you experience any water damage, mold growth, or fires in your home.
Tags: COVID-19 Survival Guide, corona virus survival guide, kids at home survival guide, safe at home with kids, occupying kids at home