If you’re like me, your kids are home from school for the next several weeks. Schools have closed to help slow down the transmission of the virus. So here we are, at home with our kids for the next several weeks. What should you do?
Let’s break it down to the basics. Regardless if this is spring break, summer vacation, or a zombie apocalypse, structure and routine are key. Kids need both to help them stay emotionally happy and healthy.
Structure- Rules, rewards, and consequences that are implemented regularly in daily life. This is like the “bones” of your child’s daily life. Much like the human body, without a skeletal structure, we would just be piles of skin and muscle on the floor.
Routine- The order in which your child lives their daily life. It’s the sequence of events, activities they engage in, and overall schedule that has been set for them. This is like the “meat” of your child’s daily life. Similar to our bodies, without ligaments, tendons, and muscles, our bones would be unable to move, making it impossible for us to walk, run, or even wiggle our toes.
Your kids need both in their lives right now. The more “ordinary” you can make their lives feel, the better for them. Having a consistent structure and routine allows your kids to feel less anxious and fearful. Uncertainty is a breeding ground for anxiety.
Think of yourself right now. Not knowing what is going to happen next probably has you feeling keyed up, on edge, or even panicked. Your children are no different. They might very well be happy about “no school” for a few weeks, but don’t be mistaken, their subconscious mind is absorbing everything right now. And this, eventually, will produce that uncertainty, which will give way to anxiety, disruptive behavior, and so on.
Do yourself AND your child a favor, and help them regain a since of normalcy. Here’s how:
1.If you don’t have a daily routine, create one! Here is the routine I created for my daughter while we are sheltering-in-place. Feel free to adjust it however you need to for your family. If you have any questions, send me an email. I'm super happy to help!
Note: My family is Catholic, so I included a time for Religion in our schedule. You can switch this out to whatever subject matter you wish! It could be practicing a second language, Science, History, or make it "Chore Time." Whatever works best for you!
2. Give your children daily responsibility.
3. Don’t allow screen time all day. Use screen time as a reward for accomplishing other tasks.
4. Allow time each day for quality time, even if only 15 uninterrupted minutes.
5. Make sure they are keeping their academic skills up! If you’re school has not assigned school work, consider utilizing the online resources I’ve attached to this post.
6. READ! Encourage your child to READ at least 20 minutes each day they are home. You can access your County Library online or purchase eBooks you can read on your computer, tablet, eReader, or phone.
7. Consider engaging in art or a long-term craft project. Teach your child to sew, knit, crochet, quilt, woodwork etc. You can even engage in some old-school up-cycling projects (remember making bird-feeders out of milk cartons in school??). These activities can be relaxing and soothing for some, keeps the mind busy, and it results in the creation of something new!
8. Try to spend time outside. Go for walks, hiking, running, or simply sitting outside on your front porch or balcony. If you are in a location where you are being prohibited from going outside and you don’t have a backyard, consider planting seeds inside your home. Plant large flower boxes at your window, begin growing vegetables, of any other plant you wish. Try to enjoy Mother Earth as much as you can. Research shows that spending time in and with nature is beneficial to your mental health. So, try to get yourself AND your child around some plant life!
9. Enjoy shared story time. I told you earlier to have your children read every day, but you can also pick up a chapter book and read the story as a family. Depending on the age of your children, consider the classics such as Alice in Wonderland or Treasure Island, or look at something newer such as Harry Potter. Enjoy reading together. It’s healthy for their minds AND yours!
You don’t have to do everything on this list every single day. Consider laying out a rough sketch of what your days will look like and try to stick to it as best as you can. I hope this post helps you in creating structure and routine for you and your kids while sheltering-in-place.
Stay Healthy and Happy Parenting!
Bookmark this page! As more resources become available, I'll try to add them here. If you know of any resources, send me a message so I can share them.