I’m having a hard time starting this post because there are really just not words to appropriately capture the time in which we are living. Moms (parents) around the world are (as my friend Brooke eloquently put it) “starting off the day as teachers, transforming into lunch ladies, transforming into cleaning people, before transforming (prematurely) into beer moms.” A few of my patient’s parents have reached out to ask what they “can even do with this much time with their kids?!” While most of you are aware that I do not have a magic wand, I know a few places to find wand-like things and have pulled them together in a resource list for those of you who are trying not to turn into beer moms before 9 AM.
These are not fool proof. There are days these won’t work. Some of these cost money. But, there is a list of things when you can’t get your brain to produce one more single activity for your kids who have been in your home and out of school for 3 weeks, 6 days, 7 hours, 11 minutes…
Before the list, I want to stress that however you are getting through this is probably the right way for your family. So, at this time, let the rules slide if you need to. You’ll get back on track later and your kids will build resilience in the process.
Self Care for Parents
The best thing you can do for your kids right now? Take care of yourself. Don’t feel guilty about it. If you are the type of person who has to feel guilty about doing something nice for yourself, then do this for your kids and we can talk about that guilt thing later.
The apps Headspace and Calm are really great resources if you want to try a guided meditation. You can set the time for as little as 3 minutes. They also have kids meditations that are amazing and only 1-3 minutes long.
Peloton is doing a free 90 day trial period
If you are into dancing or want to try something new, this is A GREAT WORKOUT.
Skillshare - If you are looking to learn something during this time
Calm Screen Time for Adults
Activities for Kids
How to Encourage Independent Play
Audible has an amazing selection of children’s books and they are currently offering some of their books for free. There are two ways to use audiobooks to your benefit, listening to the story while relaxing and by filling the room. Playing an audiobook while your child is eating lunch or laying in bed in the morning is a great way to get a few minutes to yourself (no questions from listening kids!).
If you are just starting to get your child into independent play, put on a story while they are playing. The noise will help them relax and ease into play, at least. A story can fill the room and give you additional time to work on drinking coffee or a project.
Youtube has a great selection of free books also but the screen part minimizes the child’s ability to play. If you have the ability, play it on your phone with the screen down, so they have to listen and play. Using stories like this will allow for a quick growth in independent play. Start by shooting for 15 minutes or so and gradually up the time. Here is Strega Nona on youtube.
Kanopy If you have a BCPL library card (most counties in Maryland offer this app), you have access to the FREE Kanopy app. There you can find animated versions of your child's favorite books. They also have free movies and episodes of educational TV shows.
Virtual Field Trip - Museums
It’s important to remember that your kids WILL be okay if you homeschool them. It is important to remember that your kids WILL be okay if you don’t homeschool them. If you are struggling with the day-to-day, I do recommend putting a structure in place. If the structure becomes too overwhelming, drop it. It is meant to be easy and make things easier. In a well-structured day, even the youngest children have independent play. Structuring can allow you to have time to yourself and your child to grow in independence. (So, in that way, doing nothing is a great homeschooling lesson!).
Talking about What’s Going On
Talking to kids in an age appropriate way about what is going on is imperative to maintaining their trust in you and decreasing their anxiety levels. Even if you are a screen free home and you think your children don’t have access to information like the news, young children pick up on the sense that something is happening around them. I encourage you to have a conversation with your child, beginning with asking about what they know about what is going on. Let them lead the conversation. Ask them for their questions and reassure them that they are safe. Older kids may find the following graphics interesting and informative. Younger kids may enjoy the pictures on the comic below but don’t need all of the information. Keep it simple, “This is a virus, like a bad cold! And we are all trying to keep each other safe by staying home.” Young children (3-5) will likely be happy with that response and move on. It’s easy to focus on all of the ways that this pandemic has affected us as parents, but remember, it’s affecting them too.