I wake up each morning now and resist the urge to check my phone before I do my devotions because when I look at my phone I find more cancellations, a barrage of WhatsApp posts as friends are trying to figure all this out and of course a burst of funny memes that make me laugh. And if I look at my phone before my devotions I am way too distracted and head into overwhelm. So I’m trying to sit with Jesus first and get His perspective and figure out what today will look like.
You know each generation seems to have touch points. Like, I remember where I was when Princess Di died. My parents talk about Elvis and JFK. Is this what our kids will talk about? They will remember when everything got cancelled and they had to stay home. What do we, as parents, want them to remember about this time?
You Have To Shape This Time For Your Kids
I have a couple of thoughts on how to survive and maybe even thrive during this time. First let me say that you can do this mom and dad! God gifted these kids to you, they are created from your unique genetic make up. You know these kids better than anyone else in the world. So if you take the time to think about what your kids need now, you will do great! Here are a few tips to help you do that:
1. Have A Routine
Kids do better with routine. It makes them feel safe. It helps them know what’s coming next and it helps you stay the course. Their teachers will also greatly appreciate that you have kept things going at home so that when they go back to school there is less catch up to do.
So set up a routine. By routine I mean a list of things your kids need to do in a specific order. You don’t need to assign times to this. If your teens need to sleep in a bit, let them, and have their routine begin when they get up.
Sketch out first as parents what you want to include in that routine. I would suggest starting with school. Do what you have to do first and tackle the hardest subjects first like Math or writing. You will probably need to sit down with your kids to do school because they are not used to doing it at home without their teacher. Offer lots of encouragement and help. Maybe even some snacks.
Then include physical activity – have a dance party, play outside, go for walks (maybe stay away from playground equipment for now).
Schedule in reading time. You can all sit in your living room together and do this. You might want to read out loud to your kids. Find a great book and enjoy this time as a family. There are huge benefits to reading out loud to your kids! This might be a fun thing to do during a meal. My mom read us all kinds of awesome books at supper like Charlotte’s Web, the Narnia series or Pippi Longstocking.
Block out quiet time. You will need this! They need this. Figure out how this could look for your family. Quiet play in their room, coloring, nap time!
Next add anything else you might like in your routine. Maybe chores or creative time. Maybe there are things you never have time for that you can now do. Once you as a parent have the must-haves then ask your kids what they would like to add to the routine. Kids do better when they have some choice in the matter.
Then write out your schedule and post it somewhere so everyone knows the deal. I would suggest, for your own sanity, that you discuss with your kids what they have to do before they are allowed any technology/devices. This will cut down on the constant asking!
You might want to include some kind of incentives or rewards for doing their routine with a good attitude. Maybe they get to watch a Dude Perfect episode or (shudder) haul out the glitter glue.
Finally, create a bored jar. You can do this one of two ways. The first way is to put all kinds of fun things in there so that if your kids are bored they can go to the jar, take out an idea and do that. The other way is to put chores in there. If your kids are constantly whining that they are bored get them to do a chore. It’s amazing how fast they can find things to do! But let me encourage you with this quote:
“Boredom always precedes a period of great creativity.”Albert Einstein
Don’t be afraid of boredom. And don’t just use TV and devices to solve it. You are a fun parent! You have great ideas and so does the internet. Use up your craft stuff, dust off old games or Christmas gifts. Swap stuff with your friends. Reach out to friends with snail mail, FACETIME and texts to encourage others. Make some awesome memories with your kids! You can do it!
2. Plan family fun stuff for your evenings
Suddenly we have nothing going on in the evenings. That’s disappointing for many of us and it just feels weird. So let’s fill that time as families and really build into our kids and these relationships. We have been given the gift of time to really shape these evenings and maybe start some great traditions.
So take suggestions from your kids as to what they would like to do. Some of our favorite things are:
Playing games and watching fun shows like Lego Masters, American Ninja Warrior and the Masked Singer. Why not try building forts, having NERF or mini stick battles, do cooking shows or baking shows, make your own movies, go for a walk as a family, watch a movie or try starting family devotions. Your teens might love some kind of competition too like a video game challenge. Maybe you even go on room dates with your kids and do one-on-one things with them for an hour at a time.
One last thing to keep in mind is that family night does not have to last hours and hours. Set a time limit so that you play games for 1 hour. You still need down time as a parent to re-group and relax for the next day.
You Set The Tone
It will really help make the time go more smoothly if you have a plan. And it will make the time more pleasant if you set the tone. What do you want these next weeks to feel like in your home? Playful, fun, peaceful? As parents it begins with us.
Think about how you are feeling about all this stuff. Probably these feelings are mirrored in your kids. Feel disappointed? Sad? Anxious? Then you can relate to your kids. So take time to process your own feelings and make space for your kids to talk about theirs. Be aware that if they are acting out, it could be related to all these feelings swirling around in them. Be gracious with them and with yourself. Take time outs. All of you! Expect meltdowns. Pray lots. Memorize verses together. Pay them to memorize!
Finally, acknowledge your kids and especially your teens still want to feel connected with friends and family. Use technology to your advantage here. But remember to be gracious with people who are making decisions about what to do and where to go. We are all learning here so respect their decisions. And respect our leaders’ and government actions as well.
God has a purpose in this. He works all things together for the good. And I personally am really looking forward to hearing all the amazing things that will come out of this time! You got this parents!
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Bonnie is “just” a stay-at–home mom for two energetic boys and the wife of a sports and music-loving husband. She loves Jesus and is trying to live a life that reflects that. Her desire is to see others come into a deep relationship with Jesus and experience the love and life change that our heavenly Father brings. And so in her “spare” time she helps write material and teach at Southland’s Selah mom’s program. Oh, and if having coffee with friends can be considered a hobby then she is all over that!