This week, we saw Kansas shuttering their schools for the remainder of the school year. Last night, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced that schools statewide will be closed through April 17.
These turbulent times already bring about a level of uncertainty, but with kids home for longer than their usual Spring Breaks, it also brings about changes to our routine and patterns.
As a parent of three children—ages 2, 5, and 8 (who do we appreciate?)—I wanted to provide some ideas for how we are keeping our sanity in hopes that it can help you.
One of the first things I’ll mention is that it is OK to talk about the Coronavirus with your kids. If you’re feeling iffy, they are going to pick up on it. NPR did a great cartoon for kids to help explain the virus and, if there is a shining light about this, it’s that we will finally get kids to understand the importance of washing their hands. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had the “Did you wash your hands?” “Yes.” “With soap?” conversation.
Another important element to keep in mind is maintenance of healthy habits. This unanticipated time, with kids and most parents homebound, mimics the time each year when school lets out for the summer in that there is a trend of parents losing that sense of rhythm and routine. If you have a routine built around self-care for yourself and your family—find a way to maintain it. If not, now is a prime time to start building one. You might choose to focus on:
- Eating healthy and keeping up your supplement routine. This is easy for those who already practice these health habits and have their chosen resources on hand, but anyone can engage with these principles. Think about simplicity and consistency.
- Meditating. Doing meditation around kids is hard. But if you look at mindfulness, a piece of that practice is to embrace the distractions. This is also a good time to familiarize your kids with your routines. Sam Harris has a meditation app called Waking Up and there’s a series of great short meditations for kids. If you’re financially impacted by this global pandemic, you can email email@example.com for free limited time access to the app.
- Staying active: Get outdoors (just stay 6 feet away from your neighbors). If going to the gym was part of your sanity, incorporate your kids into a rotation of body weight exercises. The likelihood of them climbing on you while you’re doing pushups is pretty high, anyways.
- Facilitating learning. Another big concern circulating around our neighborhood is: how are our kids going to continue to learn? If you have children that are in elementary school, you're aware that math is no longer math. The math I learned as a kid is no longer applicable. When my oldest has asked me to review his math homework, there have been times that I’ve been completely stumped. Grouping the tens? Don’t carry the one? Nope. I’m done.
There are resources out there to help—whether on YouTube or through a Google search, you can find pretty much anything.
But this could easily be a chance to help your child discover something new. My wife is using this opportunity to teach piano lessons, while my oldest discovered the joys of journaling. Granted, most of his entries are full of pee, poop and fart jokes, but he’s eight and pee, poop, and fart jokes are a classic.
- Enjoying the little things. Being cooped up in your house self-isolating can be maddening, but it is what it is, and it’s a good chance to be present. Under normal circumstances when our youngest plays “house” (which consists of pushing every object in a room into one tiny, easily trippable space) our normal reaction would be “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” But this is our norm right now and there’s plenty of other things to be worried about.
There are also some great, brilliant, kid-oriented things happening on the internet these days.
Mo Willems is hosting live lunch doodles every day on YouTube.
Josh Gad, the infamous voice of Olaf, is having moments of parenting realism and reading stories to children on Twitter.
Please know that even though you can’t see us in person, our family here at Bluebird is here for you. Stay connected with us virtually. Come chat with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Tell us what you’re done and how you’re doing. If you have tips for maintaining your sanity during this period of self-isolation, please share.