By Sara Tipton
Children add a whole other layer to the quarantine process during a pandemic. Here are some “survival” tips to help you weather the storm with your kids while they are not attending school or sports because of pandemic closures.
The first thing you’ll want to consider is their education. If you homeschool, this won’t be a problem, and your kids will stay on track. Those who do not should consider doing some school work with your children at home. You can email their teachers and ask what they are working on or what they might need help with. If you can’t get a hold of a teacher, ask your kids! Talk about what they’ve been working on and figure out where they are.
Structure is important! Make sure they wake up, brush their teeth, eat their breakfast, and get ready like they would if they were going to school. My kids each have an alarm clock that goes off at 6:20 am on school days. (These are actually incredible. They wake up to birds chirping and waves crashing on the beach instead of a screech or ear-piercing alarm. They also have a “sunrise simulator” to awaken them gently when it’s still dark. I highly recommend these alarms for kids and they are only $20!) Once they’ve gotten ready, have some printable worksheets ready for them to start their day doing math.
This website has several FREE printable worksheets for your kids to do while stuck at home. You can sort the worksheets by grade level too, which is very helpful! I have already had both of my kids complete two math worksheets from this website and write a fictional story about frogs. Later, they will do a research paper on frogs. Let them use the internet to look for fun facts to add to their reports. Help them out if you need to.
Involve your kids in creating a daily plan. Everybody’s more invested in something they have a hand in creating it. Ask your child, “How do you want to spend your day?” Both of mine said they wanted to go to school, so they wanted to do schoolwork and practice their sports.
If your kids are in sports, play with them outside. Help them practice. Even if they don’t do sports, they should be exercising. I am fortunate enough to coach gymnastics at the same gym where my daughter takes cheerleading, so I know her weaknesses in the sport. Take the time to help kids perfect skills or work on things until the gym opens up again. I got out a yoga mat and have been spotting my daughter on her standing backhand springs and playing baseball outside in the snow with my son. I also make sure both kids stretch every day and my daughter is pushing herself to maintain her flexibility. Exercising is key and will help them stay healthy if they do happen to cross paths with the virus.
Plan meals at the same time you normally do. If you let kids help you make dinner, let them still help. Have them do all of the chores they normally do. Don’t dramatically alter your daily life.
As the day comes to a close, make sure they shower or bath at the same time they normally would and go to bed at their normal time. My kids go to bed at 7:30 pm, read until 8 pm, and then turn the lights out. Keeping them on this schedule will make it much easier when they do finally go back to school.
Remember to limit screen time and not let children overdo it with TV and tablets. You can keep them busy by coming up with crafts they can do on their own or outdoor activities they can do in your yard. Mine are still building snowmen, and have started a whole snow family complete with cats, dogs, and ducks. We also purchased some vegetable seeds and are focused on our starts for this year’s garden. As you complete activities, such as planting seeds, explain how planting works and why we do it.
You also need to make sure they stay healthy! This is important when you are in the midst of a pandemic. Kids are not getting major symptoms or getting sick and dying from the coronavirus. They are recovering, but that doesn’t mean you want your kids to get it. Along with exercising, you should be feeding your kids healthy meals and snacks.
Our grocery store was sold out of TV dinners and frozen meals (I never buy those anyway); however, there were a lot of fresh organic oranges available, and I bought two bags. (The picture to the right is of the bowl of oranges I put out for the kids. The vegetable starts they helped me plant are in the background under the window.) The oranges are readily available for the kids to eat whenever they’d like, giving them a dose of vitamin C each time they eat one. Healthy eating is very important right now!
Take this opportunity to teach them about handwashing and sanitation. Try letting them help make homemade disinfecting wipes to help you clean the house!
Kids don’t understand why they have to clean properly, but now is the time to help them figure it out! Calmly explain that you don’t want them to get sick from germs. Keeping kids in mind, we wrote a great article on explaining the importance of hand sanitation.
Most importantly, don’t panic because it will likely scare your children. Life will be a lot harder if they are panicked like the majority of people are right now. Children are susceptible to our emotions and if you are worried or anxious your children are likely to pick up on it. If everyone remains calm and the energy in your home is serene, life will be a lot easier. (Panicking and stress raise cortisol levels as well. Cortisol will impact your immune system in a bad way, and now is not the time you want your immune system to take the hit.) Show the kids your supplies and let them help you organize them. This will help calm your nerves and is a way to show your children that everything is alright and you have prepared for this situation in advance.
What are you doing with your children to get through school closures and home quarantine? Let us know in the comments!