Amidst all the Covid Closures, a possibly unpopular opinion is beginning to rise in me. It is influenced heavily by a few things: 1. my kids are beginning to fly the nest and it’s an effort for us all to be together in the same place and at the same time. 2. I homeschooled my kids until they hit high school. 3. Our family is currently experiencing and managing a great loss.
I know that there are extenuating circumstances for many people, such as special needs kids, extra spirited and active kids, and families for whom kids being home is a massive financial challenge, preventing much needed funds just to survive. And I know there are many special trips that have been canceled and broken many hearts.
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But that’s not what I’m seeing. What I’m seeing is what I see every summer, Christmas and spring break. I’m seeing relatively affluent families lament spending time with their kids. And it always makes me sad because sometimes it’s accompanied by a proudly proclaimed need for alcohol to manage parenthood.
I get that parenthood is challenging. I’m not going lie and say I never screamed at my kids or lost my cool in other ways. I have and I do. Young kids who aren’t in school yet can be exhausting because they need constant oversight. I remember! But what if everyone tried to switch perspective and embrace the opportunities that might exist here?
First, you’re probably not homeschooling, in that you are not having to pull together rich and engaging curriculum to meet certain standards. You are probably implementing curriculum someone else is handing you and then you’re handing back. But you will likely find that doing so takes much less time than the typical school day. If you’re so inclined, you COULD possibly find activities to supplement that work OR you could take your kids’ interests and build on them. Libraries might be closed but the internet is still open! There are so many resources, whether formalized education sites or plain ‘ol YouTube, that you can access.
Second, sleep in. Rest. Go to bed early. Our kids are chronically sleep deprived. Then get creative with your cooking. TEACH YOUR KIDS HOW TO COOK, teach them how to care for your home, let them relearn how to have unstructured play time, which is VITAL to their creativity, as well as social and emotional development and sorely lacking for overbooked kids (seriously, look it up). No one is currently overbooked! And you can still have play dates if needed.
Might it be a rough transition as families learn how to just BE together? Possibly. But if it is, if you’re not used to just BEING together unless there is some super fun (and often expensive) entertainment happening, maybe that’s worth evaluating. Your kids will remember this time because it’s likely to be historic. You will remember this time, as well. Was it a time that strengthened your family?
Here are some ideas to help you strengthen your family, and even improve your household, while you’re “stuck” together:
- Revive (or begin) a love of books. Check out www.8storylovers.com. I don’t know of a family that loves books more!
- WRITE books, create comic strips.
- Don’t just watch movies, MAKE movies.
- Sort through your closets and toys. Have fashion shows, plan a yard sale or a toy swap.
- Teach and learn basic kitchen skills if your kids don’t have them. Here’s a free Ages and Stages skills chart to help you.
- Teach and learn other basic chores you know your kids should know and actually do, but you’ve been too busy to actually enforce. Having kids home all day makes for messes. DO NOT BE THE MAID. Maybe it’s a good time for the House Fairy to visit your house since you cannot go out much.
- Do some deep cleaning. The cleaning YOU have always wanted to get to.
- Do NOTHING. Offer no ideas. Let your kids argue and then settle into something because you don’t step in and “fix it.”
- Or provide a few ideas and let them reject them.
- Get out the old art supplies you never actually used. Just put them out.
- Grow stuff. If an actual garden won’t happen, try pots. Try paper cups. Try egg cartons.
- Play board games and cards. So many life skills are practiced with good quality games and the act of playing them.
- Exercise together. Watch old home movies. Tell family stories. Teach your kids their history.
- Do good works. Can you check on an elderly neighbor? Make blankets? Bring food to someone who needs help?
This is just a starter list. Feel free to comment with your own ideas. And enjoy your kids and families. This is when their memories are made.
I’d like to add a plug for community here, too. You are not alone. We are all going through this. We are socially distancing but again – we have the advantage of email and internet. We can help each other and your KIDS can help others. Ask for help if you need it. Give help if you can.
Other posts that might help you during this crazy time: