A plan not in place.
Who would have thought? Kids are out of school, and there was no warning. If you had only known, you could have planned. But you didn’t know, and there was no time to plan for this shut-down in the community from the corona virus. Yet here you are. What to do?
There are many opportunities for you when your kids are out of school. Here are some tips to encourage you as you face these next weeks with your kids at home.
- Choose adventure or drudgery. Decide if this is going to be an adventure for you and your family or a drudgery. You set the thermostat and your kids are the thermometer. Their actions and attitudes will be a result of how you set your thermostat. They’ll pick up your attitude. So: is it going to be adventure or drudgery? You decide. If you want to be the thermostat, read about that here.
- Set realistic goals. What are things you can accomplish since they’re all at home? (Things you couldn’t accomplish if they were out and about in school or at work.) You will have time to accomplish work, adventure, fun, and learning. For starters, ask your kids what they’d like to do since they’ll be stuck at home with you. Obviously, the library is (probably) off limits. So are parks and local touristy things. Help your kids learn what fun it can be to be at home! Are there games you’ve hardly played? Art work or crafty things your kids have begged you to do? What about the things you’d like to accomplish? Outside work? Closets cleaned out? Make a deal. Work in the morning and play in the afternoon. Or, work on Monday, play on Tuesday. If you have older and younger kids, maybe the older ones can take turns giving you a hand in the kitchen for several hours a day. The other days can be their free time. Figure it out. Be flexible and fun. Provide structure and security. Make your list so the kids can cross it off when their “work” is done.
- Telescope. Hone in on weaknesses of your kids – but don’t tell them. You have a child who struggles with math? Play games that involve counting or adding. Give your kids a treasure hunt to do each day – find items with different shapes (hexagon, square, oval, etc.) If a child struggles with the alphabet, they can find books or items that begin with different letters. You know your kids, and you know their weaknesses. Use this time to make learning fun – and they won’t even realize they’re learning. If a child struggles with cheating or feeling left out, use activities to help work on these areas.
- Read. Read to your kids or have them read to themselves. Every day (well, almost, anyhow). Quiet time is a wonderful time to unwind and relax; read to your little ones every day and make sure the older ones have time to read. It will grow their minds, their vocabulary, and their world. You can read more about naps and reading here and here.
- Play. Children need time to play and act out their emotions and feelings. They need exercise; spring is a perfect time for kids to be outside. If it’s chilly or rainy, make an obstacle course in your house; play hide and seek with your kids. Do not expect your kids to sit quietly during the day. They need to move. Exercise with them! You’ll find that if you do things with them they will more likely be willing to play on their own part of the day. Remember that this is new to them, too; so figure it out and expect them to be rowdy and full of energy. Read about the importance of games with your kids here and here.
- Party time. Have an end-of-the-week party for accomplishments. Have your kids practice a story or skit during the week and present it that evening. “Practicing” will keep them entertained for hours. Fix a favorite, kid-friendly supper and plan a family time. Have fun with food! When kids have something to look forward to, it will help them stay on task during the week.
- Pray. Seriously, some of the best ideas that popped into my head happened after I asked God for wisdom to help me know what to do with these kids I loved fiercely but who exasperated me to no end. You know your kids, but God knows them even better. He wants your children to be unafraid and to feel safe. A lot of that depends on you and the things they hear you say about the corona virus. Remember that. Ask Him to guide you and give you ideas and energy.
Looking back later
Think about what you want your kids to remember about this time. Take the right steps now so the memories will be there later. You know your kids. Fight for them so this can be one of the best times in their life.