Updated: Apr 14
Has your world turned upside down during coronavirus? Are you suddenly isolated from your life and work, working from home and home schooling your children? You are not alone.
Social distancing to slow and eventually stop the destruction of the coronavirus is of the utmost importance, of course, but !@#$%^&!!!!!!
Thankfully, we have technology and can work from home. Many are not as fortunate and are unemployed until this ends. I feel for them, but appreciating continued employment doesn't make this any easier. THIS IS HARD!!
I know many parents wish they could afford to stay at home with their children, some may even have wanted to home school in an ideal world. None wanted to home school at a moments notice AND work while they do it! It's overwhelming. It's challenging. It's chaotic. It feels impossible at times. It's lonely even though you aren't alone. And most of all, it feels like everything is piling up, the things we need to get done like haircuts, dentist appointments, check-ups and all the errands we can't do right now.
There are things parents can do to help kids settle down and adjust during forced isolation. Here are some tips and tricks to help manage the isolation, the close quarters, the boredom.
Structure. Schedule. Routines.
The more you can keep your normal routines, the easier it will be for everyone. Kids need predictability and structure to keep themselves and their feelings under control. When breakfast, lunch and dinner are around the same time every day, kids know what to expect. It helps them regulate their emotions. This is especially true for children because even when they can tell time, their sense of time is off. Add to that the twilight zone of the internet where hours go by and it feels like only 5 minutes. You see the outcome of this on the weekends or school breaks where children will skip meals, get too hungry and overreact to small things.
More importantly, and especially during a pandemic, keeping your normal routines let's kids know that everything will be ok. So what if we don't know when we will go back to school, find tp in the stores or get a haircut, we know that life is continuing as it always had and we will be ok. If you can mimic some of their school schedule, even better. We call that continuity and it makes kids feel safe and secure. It also helps them know that we will go back to school, school is important, and again, we will be ok.
Ultimately, keeping your normal schedules and routines for your children will help you keep your sanity. It's easy to let things go and enjoy the time off, but the schedule is your friend and will help things stay more organized and less chaotic. You can use structure to help you have time for yourself and to work. For instance, if you have a meeting everyday at 9 am, and you have deemed that silent reading time, your children will quickly get used to the idea and be more able to maintain a quiet activity for the duration of your meeting.
Some ideas for using structure to get work done
For school age children who don't need constant direct supervision, try some of these ideas to build into your schedule so that you can work or take some time to shower, plan and yes, even relax. And it's ok to use technology, today's teachers are expected to use as much technology as possible.
- place tech time where you need it in your schedule
- let kids choose a half hour using an educational app and the other half free tech time
- sign up for a one time online class. They have coding, art, solve mysteries and more.
- tv time, educational or fun
- video chat with family and friends
- journal writing - you can give them a few topics to choose from
- drawing time - draw pictures related to journal writing or free drawing
Include your children in your use of structure
Let kids have some say in how you design the schedule like picking snack time or when they exercise. Children will feel more ownership and respect for the schedule. Another idea is to have your child decorate posters they can hang up that show when things will happen. Remind them throughout the day what is coming up to help them transition easier. Engage kids in setting up for the next activity, cleaning up from a meal or project and checking off completed tasks. Just remember to be flexible. The idea of using structure is to loosely organize your family's day, not to worry about start and stop times. If you're having fun, you can skip, postpone or reschedule the next activity. The use of a schedule will help kids handle changes to the schedule more easily.
Try to have some fun, laugh at the goof's and praise your child for their effort. You are a pioneer in a new frontier, there is no roadmap, yet you will find your way and have some amazing stories to boot! You've got this!