These are unique times. And they will probably get even more unsettled in the days ahead. Coronavirus has altered nearly every aspect of our lives. As adults, we find this unsettling. But the impact of the upheaval we see in our culture can have an even more dramatic effect on our children. How do we help them keep a healthy outlook on life? And how do we stay healthy ourselves? (Especially if you're a parent who finds themselves cooped up indoors with a stir-crazy child!)
One of the best ways to help instill a sense of normalcy is to provide a good balance of structure and freedom for your children. This applies to all ages of children in your home. We have four children, ages 16 to 6. While the structured time may look different for each of our children, the concept is still the same. Kids THINK they don't need structure, when in fact, research shows they do. It helps them more than they know, and of course, provides predictability for you as the parent.
So, I am excited about sharing with you ten things to do when your children are stuck at home during these uncertain days.
1. Re-establish basic daily routines.
When you lose the structure of school, don't be surprised if your daily habits start to break down. While we don't always have our children make up their beds, bring down their trash, or pick up their clothes off their floor every day, these have now become for us tasks that we're doing each day. A daily routine not only helps pass the time, but it also helps them feel like they are back in a schedule. So, create a daily routine. Make a checklist. And yes, if you're like us, you may have to add "brush teeth" LOL.
2. Schedule reading time.
With children out of school, it's important to continue to read. Some of your children will love this. Some will fight it. But it's a great way to structure your day while keeping them in their educational rhythms. (For those younger children who may not love reading, numerous websites have free books online or people reading books aloud. We love storylineonline.net)
3. Get crafty.
Many of you see the word "crafts," and you picture popsicle sticks, glitter, and sock puppets. (Not that there is anything wrong with any of these!) But being crafty is really about encouraging your children to make something out of nothing. What you make will likely depend on age and gender. Maybe you're making a robot costume out of cardboard boxes. Or crafting cards for shut-ins in your local nursing homes. Whatever you choose, providing children with an activity where they are creating is a great way to use your time while engaging in their creativity.
4. Get moving.
Plan walks. Schedule them. And drag your children on them even if they protest! LOL. If children aren't used to going on walks, they may resist. But most kids find that they love it once they are outside. If you have older kids, put a workout time on your schedule. The Nike Training app is an example of the many apps out there that has free workouts you can do at home with no equipment.
5. Seize the day!
Do you know that long overdue task you've meant to get to? Seize the day! Now's your chance. Get your tween daughter to organize her closet over a couple of days. De-clutter under the bathroom sink. Clean out your closet and make a donation bag for your local thrift store. Capitalize on the time to get a project done.
6. Help others.
Whether your older children help babysit a younger child an hour a day (that's what we're doing over here), or you make baked goods to take to a neighbor (dropping them off at the door of course; we have to practice our social distancing!), thinking of ways to do something for others is great for your children.
7. Planning for quiet time.
Schedule quiet time. Set a timer. Have your children spend time reading their Bible and writing in a journal. When our routines fall apart in a time like this, spiritual habits can go by the wayside. Make sure you keep them in the forefront of your children's lives but intentionally scheduling it.
8. Connect with family and friends over Facetime.
My mom is s super-creative grandmom. So, I've asked her to share a virtual DIY or craft idea with my son a couple of times a week. Maybe you have a grandparent or loved one who bakes. Facetime them and have them walk your children through a recipe. Plan Facetime connections into your schedule and rotate friends and family members.
9. Plan screen-time
We are probably more strict than most parents when it comes to screen time. But these days, we've decided to be more flexible. The last thing you want is for your children to plop down in front of a screen for hours at a time. (There is a literal mountain of research that shows how damaging this is for your children.) But we also have to be realistic. Intentionally scheduling a few hours a day for your children to be on a screen is the best way to make sure it's all in proportion.
10. Plan unstructured room time.
It is okay and actually healthy for our younger children to have unstructured time by themselves in their rooms. If your child is old enough to play unsupervised in a controlled environment, schedule time for them to play by themselves for 30 minutes to an hour. This allows you some space to breathe (lol) and helps them relax.
I hope that these ideas will help you during this time. These are created to give you a sense of peace, not one of pressure. if you don't have a schedule every day, that's fine! But if you're not prone to schedule out your day, give it a try. You may find that you enjoy the structure of it. (You probably have other ideas to add to it too.)
The important part is to be intentional during this time, and have plans in place to create a healthy balance of structure and freedom.