Like most everyone, this last week has been like something out of a Sci-Fi film. With the coronavirus rampant in our states and the attempt to quell sickness, many are getting creative to avoid cabin fever and keep their sanity. As a teacher with two little ones at home and a husband in an essential worker role, it’s been a tiring week. I have to imagine that all the other parents trying to work at home feel the same. You have to constantly remind yourself you are still working, but also parenting now too. The kids have been great- both students and my own children; resilient, creative, happy, and diligent. My oldest has not complained one bit about doing school work each morning (though she has always enjoyed school), but my youngest wants her tablet almost 24/7 if given the opportunity (which she was not). So what advice and feedback can I give you during this Twilight Zone episode we all seem to be living indefinitely? Here are a few of my thoughts:
Stick to a Routine
Even though I am working from home, I don’t tend to ‘sleep in’. I still get up at 5 a.m. most mornings to get in my regular workout sans kids. I like getting it done and then having some quiet time before the wild things awake. ;0 It also allows me to respond to emails and create a brief To-Do list for the day and feel more organized. As far as those with kids, this is helpful to them, as well; It helps keep them from spending the entire day in front of a screen and if you have a general idea of what to do during the morning vs. afternoons and evenings; Typically we do homework and chores in the morning, mix in a little tablet time or watch one of their favorite TV episodes before having lunch, going for a watch, enjoying some reading time and then my favorite-nap time (for the younger one!). In the afternoon we do more creative play- art, writing our own stories or plays, imagination games (the girls created forts yesterday with their mini-tents and then made their own Disney World ride after we watched a few of the rides they have on youtube).
Set an Alarm
The first two days at home I felt extra achy, then I realized I was sitting, and not correctly, lounging on my laptop the better part of the day without circulating the room like I was used to doing at school. I decided I needed a physical reminder, so I get up at least 10 minutes every hour and do something away from the screen- whether it’s putting away laundry, playing balloon fights (don’t ask) with the girls, or switching out the dishes in the dishwasher (it’s a vicious cycle…get it?! I’m sorry, I blame this quarantine).
Yes, I know, you’re home, what’s the point? I’m not suggesting getting decked out in your workwear best, but simply throwing on something other than your sweats and making yourself presentable is a game changer. I failed this big time yesterday after struggling from lack of sleep (stupid thunder and lightning!) the night before and definitely noticed a difference. If I shower, put on simple makeup, jeans and a sweater, I feel much more normal than sitting around in my loungewear all day everyday. Plus, I don’t want to scare my students when I have to hop on any Zoom meetings!
Make a List
You guys…I LOVE lists! There is something about them that make me feel more productive and purposeful! I have a bunch of lists- I made one of all the creative and fun things I can do with the girls during this time to try and keep them amused and entertained (and if you aren’t sure where to start, Pinterest and Facebook have so many out there, and I will share ours below); I have one for the entire time off (that we know so far) of areas in the house that need to be cleaned out, organized, and donated; and I have a daily list of what I want to accomplish. Anything that doesn’t get checked off of this last one just moves to the next day. I mean, we have SO much time right now, and I plan on taking full advantage of it.
- Write letters/make pictures for local nursing home residents (or just send one to a relative that you aren’t able to see)
- Puzzles (the bigger, the better if you are working with multiple people)
- Create an obstacle course (send them to the basement so you don’t have to see the mess!)
- Make a buffet dinner so every family member gets to include at least one item they will eat
- Ice cream sundae bar
- Help parents with chores
- Create a ‘book a day’ challenge to keep up with reading; For younger kids, read to them and ask them to point out what they see or might hear if they were the character(s)
- Play dress up and put on a ‘show’ for mom/dad/older siblings
- Have a ‘sleepover’ with siblings (as long as one doesn’t keep the other up half the night like mine!)
- Set up a ‘plane’ in a designated room with chairs and stuffed animals/dolls; The kids can be the pilots and/or flight attendants; For some reason, this is a HUGE hit with my girls!
Get Fresh Air
No matter what the weather or temperature outside, I take the girls out each day (and honestly, it’s so good for me, as well!). We typically go on a short bike ride around the neighborhood, but earlier this week it rained and so we threw on our rain boots and went puddle jumping, went on an outside scavenger hunt with a list Em’s teacher sent home (looking for signs of spring!) spent some time watching all of the worms and slugs move (ew! but the girls loved this) and on nicer, more mild days, we have bubbles and chalk at the ready. Some of our neighbors stopped by yesterday and left us sweet messages (and what a fun activity for kids, too!) to tell us they missed us!
However you are spending this time, just know you’re not alone. We’re all sick of not being allowed to live our daily, normal lives unconfined. I know there will be an end, but it still sucks. People have had to postpone vacations and travel, miss out on birthday parties and celebrations (we’re in that boat), reschedule friend hangouts, etc. Let’s just hope all of this works and we can be back to our regularly scheduled lives sooner than later!
What are you doing to keep the boredom at bay? I’d love to hear all the ways you combat this time!