The Kids Are Home! Now What?
Your kids are at home for the foreseeable future, and so are you. This “quality time” together may have sounded good at first. Then, by day three, the walls may have started to close in. So now what? How in the world do we keep busy?
The most important thing to remember is that there’s no right or wrong way to keep your kids occupied. You have to do what’s right for your family. But in case you’re running out of ideas, here are some suggestions for navigating this new normal.
No, you didn’t sign up to homeschool your children. No, they don’t listen to you the way they would listen to their teacher. Just do the best you can when helping them with their schoolwork.
Try easing into schoolwork each day. Allow your children to wake up, have breakfast and enjoy something fun for a little while before diving in. Spend a few hours each day on homework and allow the rest of the day to be more like home and less like school. After all, this is a new and uncertain time for them, too. Home is usually seen as their safe space away from the pressure of school. Try to have a designated space for schoolwork that’s different from where they play.
Have your younger children choose one book a day, or one book per week for older kids. They are responsible for reading the book on their own or with you. Not only will this help with reading skills, but will allow you to have some quiet time, too.
There are many ways to engage in activities that allow your children to learn new things or refine skills. This could include coloring and crafts, brain games, puzzles, board games, card games, and so much more. Find out what your kids enjoy the most and make a game out of it. They may get some practice with math, reading and problem solving without even realizing it.
Learning Life Skills
This is a great time to get kids involved in things like cooking, cleaning, organization, money management, budgeting, balancing a checkbook, writing a thank-you note, changing a tire, or doing laundry. These life skills tend to take a backseat when everyone’s busy with school, sports, and other activities.
Take stock of what you have on hand. Get the kids involved in coming up with meal ideas based on what you’ve got. For instance, if you have a bag of potatoes, you can make a big pot of potato soup. Serve it for dinner and then have leftovers for lunch the next day. If you need to shop, stock up on what you need, but remember that others need food as well! There’s no need to hoard.
Because many states are in shelter-in-place mode right now, it may be hard to actually get physical activity incorporated into your daily life. Think outside the box. There lots of workout videos for adults and kids online.
Most states are allowing you to take walks and bike rides as long as you stay six feet away from non-family members. Fresh air and sunshine are good for everyone’s well-being. Try doing a combination of indoor and outdoor activities. Hopefully your kids will be worn out by the end of the day.
Family Movie Night
Have a list of movies you want to catch up on? How about a family movie night? There are plenty of movies to stream online or watch on TV. If you have DVDs that were favorites when the kids were younger, dig them out and enjoy them all over again. Add some popcorn and drinks to make it more festive. You can also find wonderful educational videos online. Watch these together, and the whole family can learn something new.
Online Field Trips
Even though we are confined to our homes, there are still ways to escape. Embark on a virtual field trip to places like the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, San Diego Zoo, the Smithsonian Museum, Van Gogh Museum, the Louvre, the Great Wall of China, the White House, Buckingham Palace, and many more. Or have a Google Earth scavenger hunt. This can turn into a history/geography lesson or a simple “here’s how to get to Grandma’s house” map-reading exercise.
Funny National Holidays
Did you know that April 13 is Peach Cobbler Day? There are websites that let you see silly “holidays” like these throughout the year. Choose one each day and celebrate it! April 16 is Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day. Many of us are probably doing that already!
Go through closets and get rid of old clothes, toys and other items that are no longer needed. With so many people out of work due to the pandemic, many will be in need of items that you have gently used and no longer need. Don’t forget about those extra closets, the garage and the attic—you may find some forgotten goodies that are ready for a new home. You never know--that bike that’s been collecting dust in the garage could be donated to someone who needs a way to get to and from work.
Start a Garden
Gardening is a valuable life skill, and kids love digging in the dirt. Think about growing some of your own vegetables, if you have the space. You could start with a small “salsa garden,” or if you have a larger sunny yard, you could plant enough to have vegetables throughout the year.
We might not be able to visit the national parks, but we can go there virtually. Explore a park online, then camp in your own backyard and pretend you’re there. Don’t have a backyard? Make a fort in the living room and “camp” there. You could hang a string of white lights and pretend they’re stars. Sing camp songs. Make s’mores (to get the marshmallows melty, your microwave will have to be your “camp fire”). If you have a backyard fire pit, all the better.
Hang in there
Remember, your kids miss their friends, and they may be finding their siblings more annoying than this time. That’s OK. Do what is best for your family. Only you know what that is. Meanwhile, keep your family healthy and try to have fun and make memories during this unprecedented time.