Generally, most people are not prepared to be home for extended periods. We are mostly on-the-go people who have jobs outside the home and have our kids in school. We have our days planned for that and don't always consider that school or work could be shut down for extended periods.
When something does happen that you have to be home for long periods, you may wonder exactly how you are going to handle that. You have to balance your needs with your family's needs as well as keep everyone as healthy as humanly possible. You may still need to go to work or work from home. Your kids may have been given homework to do over the break or be asked to use a virtual classroom for schooling.
You have this. Trust me. You can do this even though it may seem overwhelming. A self-quarantine (or social distancing) may only last for two weeks or it may last for two or more months. You need to get some things in place.
I am a huge believer in routines and schedules. I don't adhere to strict schedules, but having an idea of what you would like to see done in a day helps you and your kids. Remember, if your kids are in school, they are already used to schedules. A sample schedule would be:
7:00 Wake-up, showers, get dressed, and make beds.
8:00 Breakfast and dishes.
9:00 - 11:30 School work/Creative playtime/ Your work.
11:30 - 12:30 Lunch and dishes.
12:30 - 1:30 Chores and tidy up the house.
1:30 - 3:00 Quiet time and/or School time and Your work time.
3:00 - 4:30 Snacktime, Play outside or inside depending on the weather.
4:30 - 6:00 Make and eat supper, clean up the house, baths if needed.
6:30 - 8:30 Family movie or game time.
8:30 - 10:00 Bedtime, Quiet time for the older kids, Downtime for the parents.
You can see that the schedule has plenty of freedom in the day for adjustments. You can make your schedule your own but have some consistent routines built in the day. Try to stay as close to the regular non-quarantine day as you can for mealtimes as well as morning and nighttime routines. The adjustment back to the school day will not be as rough for the kids if you do.
I would also make a list of what needs to be done in the day. This list would include household tasks, your work, the kids' schoolwork, and more. You also need to have things that need to be done daily like showers/baths. Having an idea of what needs to be accomplished will keep you on track. If you don't get everything done, remember this: teachers don't always get their daily lesson plans accomplished every day either.
I have talked about this before, but it bears repeating. Your kids can and should do chores around the house. They help make the mess, they eat the food, and they sleep under your roof. They can help clean up their messes, wash dishes, load the dishwasher, feed the pets, and take out the trash. Whether you decide to pay them or not for doing chores is up to you.
While you can make the best of this time, there are things you do need to remember while the family is home.
Some things for you to remember while your kids are home:
1. You do not have to entertain them every waking hour of the day. You see the creative playtime and the other playtimes? They are usually old enough to entertain themselves and find something to get into.
2. Screentime is up to you. Your kids might enjoy video chatting with their friends or playing online games with them to relieve the loneliness a bit. However, I would not recommend them being on a portable device or a laptop every waking hour of the day. You will also probably need those devices if your kids are using Google or virtual classrooms so you will need to take that into consideration too.
3. Expect some rebellion and crabbiness. Your kids are feeling a wide variety of emotions right now. They miss their friends and school. They might view this time away from school as a complete vacation and will want to do nothing. It's okay to take a free day if you need to, but your kids need to understand that you will not tolerate their rebellion without consequences.
4. This is not the time for social gatherings. You may need to bring in a babysitter or other family members to help during this time. You may need to still work either at home or outside the home. However, your kids (especially the more mobile teenagers) need to understand that this is not the time for hanging out at friend's houses or going shopping. You are trying to prevent the spread of illnesses, not encourage it.
5. Try to maintain some normalcy. If you normally go to church on Sunday mornings, find a service online that you can participate in or watch. If your kids are in dance, sports, or other activities, practice them at home. You should try to maintain a bit of normal life into your self-quarantine to keep your kids sane.
6. Try to get outside even if it is just in the yard. People generally have a better attitude when they spend time outside. You can go for a walk, a bike ride, play tag, play kickball, and more just to burn off the energy, get fresh air, and relax a bit.
7. Their attitude really does depend on your attitude. If you are angry, frustrated, snotty, and generally crabby to your kids, they will be the same. This is going to be hard on everyone, but attitudes matter in this situation. Make the best of this situation and your kids will too.
However, if you need a few minutes to yourself, take it. Sometimes the frustration and the situation become too much. Close your bedroom door for ten minutes, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Listen to some uplifting messages or music. Do something to divert your current mood and relax. After a few minutes, you will be a better person. The kids cannot totally wreck a house in ten minutes either.
8. Don't forget to have fun! This can be a real memory-making time for your family that you will remember for years to come. Need some ideas?
- Spend a night outside camping in the yard.
- Learn some new skills.
- Watch some new movies.
- Play some new-to-you games.
- Learn a new card game.
- Have a tea party.
- Set up a Rube Goldberg machine.
- Put together a puzzle.
- Build the biggest Lego structure.
- Learn a new hobby.
- Read a book out loud to the family.
- Make playdough and build something new.
- Try some new recipes.
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