Being the stay-at-home parent can sound lovely... especially if you were working outside the home before. But now that you're home in ISOLATION with the kids, it's not quite like what we had envisioned. Homeschooling and unschooling parents have had their lives turned upside down as well, with no community activities available and everyone suddenly being on top of each other.
Here are ten tips to remember!
First! Let's take care of you!
Skip the Structured Day!
I know all those color-coated schedules that floated around social media looked fabulous. But I really doubt that many people pulled those off. And then comes the added layer of guilt, right?
It might be easier to create a schedule that has more flow to it.
Like this: A Realistic Solution to Structure
I know you have so many pressures on you right now! Try to find a few minutes everyday to do something that calms your nerves. Self-care is one of the most overlooked activities. Despite all the glossy magazines of bubble baths and weekends away, research shows that we don't need big blocks of time to re-energize ourselves. Three minutes of a deep breathing technique can be really effective!
Lots of times we're so busy running around and getting kids from place to place, we haven't taken the time to figure out what works for us! Now you have time though! Here are a few suggestions as well as some articles to help you get in the right frame of mind for it.
Lower Your Housecleaning Standards
Embrace "the lived-in look"! Because that's what's going on now. When everyone lives in one area, stuff begins to build up. Yes, have conversations with the kids about how to get the dishes back to the sink or the dirty socks to the hamper, but do what you can to model helping each other. Walking past saying, "Hey, since you're done, hand me that plate and I'll put it in the dishwasher for you." This evokes a much more cooperative vibe than barking the reminder to them about 'getting that plate to the kitchen!"
And if clutter drives you nuts, create a little space for yourself that you can retreat to - your own bedroom, a corner of the living room where you can look out the window, a place on the patio?
But from a "homeschooling tip" standpoint, I'm sure you've noticed that projects are messy. A room can look like a bomb went off in a matter of minutes! But that's how curiosity and discovery grows. And you want the kids to learn while they're home, right? This is all part of it.
Whether it's the fallout from projects or the simple chores of home life, set the kids up for success as much as possible! Add more trashcans to various rooms so it's easy to see it - and use it! Make Rubbermaid tubs more available to grab those dirty clothes or shoes.
Plus! It's not like anyone is going to be dropping by!
Ideas for handling everyone being home:
Setting Up and Unschooling Home
10 Practical Solutions for Busy Moms Who Are Deschooling
Food & Mealtimes - Keep it Easy!
When the kids are home, it can seem like all you're doing is feeding them! Minimize the effort and you'll feel better about it. Prepping ahead of time, so you know what foods you'll have for the week will help. Make it easy for them to find and access. Include them in the meal prep - even if they're just sitting at the counter chatting with you while you start dinner. Using paper plates or marking everyone's glass for the day is helpful to keep the dish load down!
Lots of times kids eat because they're bored and can't think of something else to do. You may need to lean into that. Games, conversations - what do they need from you?
Really popular way to have fun mealtime conversations:
Conversation Starter Cards
We may need to reframe our own attitudes about the situation. But it's not like we have a lot of control over much of it. Thinking about the positives that are happening in your day - really pulling them to the front of your mind - can help you change your perspective. Consider creating the new habit of journaling before bed or in the morning.
Inspiration and Ideas: Gratitude
Now on to the Kids...
Playing with your kids may not seem like a huge priority - but that's worth reconsidering! Not only is play comforting to them, they learn so much when they're playing! It could be games - cards, dice, video, board games - whatever you child enjoys. Or it could be playing pretend with stuffed animals, building with lego, or even throwing all the couch cushions onto the floor so everyone can avoid the "hot lava"! All of these are opportunities to connect with the kids. You don't have to play all day long. But sometimes if you start the day off playing with something they enjoy, they won't need you as badly later on. Their cup will be full!
More to follow up on: Play = Learning
Kids have a lot of energy to burn off - I don't need to tell you that! Figuring out what's the best way to do that is something you may want to brainstorm about. Outside play gives them the opportunity to get some sunshine (hopefully) and fresh air, but also room for "large muscle play"... running, jumping, wildness without worry of breaking lamps! Going for a morning hike or a casual after dinner stroll can also be helpful to simply move around a little more.
More ideas at Pinterest: Outside with Kids Outdoor Playtime
Now's as good a time as any to embrace the idea that technology is here to stay. It's time to recognize that it's a tool that brings so many opportunities into your home like: Facetime with friends and family, online stories read by authors, funny videos to distract us, learning what's happening in the world, or learning a new skill, just to name a few! It's not the Boogey-Man we've all been led to believe!
If you still have fears about kids and technology, please consider grabbing this
Unschooling Guide: Technology and Unschoolers.
Virtual Field Trips
So many places offer cool activities for kids to learn from home. We've started to collect these in a variety of ways, for a variety of reasons.
UM2M Facebook Page - this link will take you to the thread with a large collection.
Here at the website - for those who'd like to see these opportunities separated out by subject
UM2M Support & Resources - batched by subject, we share new resources found every day in the files ares of this FB group. (sign up here)
Connecting with your kids may be the silver lining in all of this! Many families are reporting that their kids are so much happier now that they're not getting up early, rushing around, dealing with bullies. Families are able to reconnect and have the time to actually listen to what's going on with their children. So often, we feel we can't take the time our child needs because we're on a tight schedule. It will be interesting to see what we've all learned as the shelter-in-place order is lifted and we can choose what parts of our past need to be reapplied - and what we can drop.
If your creativity is running low, here are some ways to connect with the kids: