How to keep yourself and your children from going crazy while COVID-19 closes schools across America
While it seems that the world around us is coming to a screeching halt, our world as parents never stops! I'm thankful for all who are responsible for taking these extreme measures to keep our country safe & informed. Now it's our job as parents to keep our kids feeling safe. While the main focus is on things we can do to stop spreading germs, I'm screaming to please stop spreading panic. This virus is real, this virus is contagious, but the cure is not panic. Be aware, be knowledgeable, be preventative, be prepared, be in prayer, but most importantly, be calm.
With schools all over America closing down, we found out yesterday evening that Florida is following suit. Unfortunately, the virus is not the only thing we have to worry about now. While I don't have answers to many of the problems America is facing, I thought I'd help where I can. I've compiled a list of things we can do with our kids while they are out of school. Our children are going to feed off of our energy. Lets work as a team to keep their minds sharp, their boredom at bay, their concerns minimal & their hearts in a giving state!
1. Writing letters
My 7-year-old daughter loves to write, especially with a purpose. Many nursing homes have limited or restricted visitors. This can be very hard on the residents who look forward to their daily visits with loved ones. Have your children write letters and draw pictures for them. This will be SO good for your children and the person receiving the letter. It will keep their writing and grammar skills sharp while also learning how to address and mail a letter. Not to mention learning how to care for others during a time like this!
2. Start an age-appropriate devotional
It's always a great time for Prayer but now it is a REALLY great time. Start a devotional of any topic with your kids. I have found when doing devotionals with them questions arise and start some great conversations. If you don't know where to start, download the Bible app. It's loaded with so many devotionals for all ages and situations that will guide you through The Word.
3. Teach them to cook
This is the perfect time to let them get in the kitchen with you and be big helpers. If we are being completely honest with ourselves we don't know where all this is going to lead. It's not a terrible idea to prepare some freezer meals. If our prayers are answered and this is under control by the end of the month, you're still going to need to eat so they won't go to waste. Teach your kids how to whip up some easy meals and let them help. My daughter loves to be the one who gets to label the bags, mainly because of her obsession with permanent markers! This is also a great time to prepare some meals for families in your community who may be out of work and struggling financially!
4. Spring clean
This may not be true for all kids, but my daughter loves helping me organize and clean out her clothes. As long as I'm doing it with her, she really enjoys it. Take advantage of the extra time and extra helper you have. You could also do this with toys. It will bring a great sense of calm to have areas you normally don't have time to show attention to really cleaned and organized!
5. Go Outside
Turn off the TV, put down the devices, and go outside! Fresh air and sunshine have been proven to help immune systems and mental health.
6. Read, Read, Read.
They may not like you for this one but don't let them get lazy with their reading. Staying on a routine during long breaks like this is very important for parents and kid's sanity. Have them read each night before they go to bed. Keeping a reasonable bedtime and familiar schedule will help with good attitudes and strong immune systems.
7. Have a picnic
One way to get some fresh air is by making lunchtime fun! Have them help you put together lunch and all the things you'll need for a picnic. Head outside with a nice big blanket and enjoy being out of the house for a little bit.
8. Wash your car
okay, seriously? This would be so much fun for them. When its all over, you've got a clean car! Win, win!
9. Screen time
Yes, I said it. Allow them to have some screen time. Whether it is TV, an iPad, or a phone, appropriate screen time is calming for them and often a break for parents. The trick is to have a specific start and end time. Throughout the day as they constantly ask for their devices they will react better to you responding with "Yes, but not until 2:30" rather than you simply responding "no!". I also know that my daughter responds much better if she knows ahead of time what her time frame is. If I give her 30 minutes of screen time she gives it up with a respectful attitude at the end more so than if I were to just randomly tell her to get off of it when I feel shes been on too long!
10. Keep your toddlers busy
For your younger ones, keeping them busy is very important. Sometimes something as simple as coloring a cardboard box or stacking solo cups will keep them busy for long periods of time! If they have older siblings put them in charge of helping them build a fort or reading them a story. Keeping your toddlers on a schedule is also really important. If they have a regular nap time, try to be consistent with that. Puzzles, crafts, board games, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and play-doh are all fun ways to keep them busy, thinking, and happy!
Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by all of this!