Well folks, I am sure than almost none of us have had to experience this- the idea of parenting our children AND attempting to keep ourselves employed in the face of a pandemic that leaves all of us at home together. In the information below, I will list the advice I give most often, but I am available for more chats and conferencing should you want or need more support!
How to Live and Work at Home in Relative Harmony
Here’s a secret- your children crave routine and to a deep desire understand what is coming next. A large difference between home and school is that home life is often filled with the parent’s needs like grocery shopping and errands and cleaning or laundry but the child’s school like is about them. So many of us are finding our children coming to us even more than usual for reassurance and an understanding of what is coming next. The answer to this is a schedule. (And extra snuggles!) Here is a sample schedule and what I am doing with my kindergartener and third grader each week day.
- 8:30am Nourish- Breakfast made by me
- 9:00 am School Block 1: Language Arts, Foreign Language and Writing/Computer Time. We start with 20-30 minutes of reading on their own (This could be an app like Epic where they read to your child!) then do Spanish on an app or through conversation and finish with a writing prompt or something I want them to work on writing- pinterest works well for ideas for any/all of this.
- 11:00-11:30 Movement- Gonoodle, online dance class, online yoga, etc.
- 11:30-12:30 Cooking class: One or both girls cook lunch and learns a new skill that I can set out before hand. Yesterday was pizza. Today is bread making. Here is a sweet youtube channel called “I Can Cook” I added this block because I love cooking with children and I now have to cook three meals a day anyway. But you don’t have to! PBJ is delish!
- 12:30-2:30 School Block 2: STEAM Math: Charlotte is using the prodigy app and Josephine and I are working her way through Montessori math that I can teach her at home. Science For science we are still on the video stage but I hope to get to experiments. I like Minute Physics and Minute Earth. And for experiments: Sick Science. Engineering, they adore legos and building out of anything, even toothpicks. Here are some great easy options. Art: We are visiting virtual museums and working on watercolors and mixed media (which is a fancy art-history word for mixing all your stuff together.)
- 2:30-3:00 Clean and Organize: We pick a room to make beautiful and clean up the day.
- 3:00-4:00 Experience Nature: We have been taking daily walks and this week we are getting our balcony vegetable, herb and fairy garden set up.
- 4:00-5:00 Rest/Free Time. This can be a “Mom has to work” hour where they have to limit their questions, etc. But it’s each of our hour to do what we need or want.
For those parents who do not have a child interested in the digital learning world, I would love to present the idea of “parallel play” which is what children do from the age of 12-24 months pretty regularly but I have seen it done much later. Children of a younger age almost always want to be near their parents. This can feel extremely suffocating if you need to get things done. I have seen SO much success with setting up an “office” space in your office for your child but let them know the rules of this space. They are in there to do their own “work.” So they can bring their work into their desk and work there. You can facilitate this by helping set them up with writing, art, or whatever they are most interested in. This also can work in the living room or letting them use magnatiles nearby. Are they violating the rules you set up for parallel play? Read on!
Boundaries, Ground Rules and Family Input
All of our least favorite word- Boundaries. With the new set up, it’s a great time to start by first having a family meeting where you discuss and connect about how hard this all is for them. Leave space to discuss the ins and outs of what you will need to accomplish each day and get ideas from them for what types of things they’d want to do with their time. I asked Charlotte in a writing prompt, “If you could learn anything in the whole wide world, what would it be?” and asked her to make a list of 10 things and why she wants to learn them. You can make the daily schedule together and agree on making the day feel “normal.” This is a great time to write out a list of ground rules that you can post on your fridge. And the big “B” of boundaries here is setting them again and again as your family adjusts.
Connect and Redirect
One of my favorite parenting books, “The Whole Brain Child” says this so succinctly, “Connect and Redirect,” and I’ve used the phrase ever since. As we are in closer quarters, we will need to redirect our children much more regularly than we ever have before. When your child is yelling at you for you to play barbies, you take a deep breath, turn towards them, get down on their level and say, “can you say that again in a kind voice?” They then repeat their question and you let them know you understand what they are asking. If you cannot give them their request, first let them know how hard/frustrating that must be for them and second- offer a time you can give them that and a few alternatives they can choose. Here are some examples!
- “I am not available to play until 2:00 but you can play right next to me while I finish writing this note.”
- “I see that you are frustrated that your little brother messed up your tower, what if you build it on the table in the living room?”
- I can’t draw the art for you to color is, but I can watch you work if you are extra secret spy quiet while I’m on my call.”
And if they break the redirection boundary you set, you can set a natural consequence and then give them another chance later in the day or the following day to try again. Here are a few examples:
- You having to take the call in another room because they are yelling.
- Not being able to use scissors until tomorrow because they cut their hair.
- Not being able to be around you because you are only available to people who speak to you in a kind voice.
Children- The Tiniest Members of Our Tribe
The first thing to remember is that our children want to be a contributing part of our tribe. They want to be loved most of all and helpful to those they love. A sense of order, open communication and setting boundaries helps them feel safe and taken care of because they learn the rules of being a part of their own tiny tribe and how they can contribute. Here are the ways I hope to help all of us build a little harmony in our ever-changing world right now.
I hope this was helpful! Please comment below and don’t hesitate to reach out with additional questions! Be safe and find those silver lining moments each day.