Remember the days when you longed for a snowstorm that would keep you house-bound and give you a break from your hectic life…an opportunity to hunker down with the kids in pjs, sipping hot cocoa and playing games? Fast forward and here we are living the perpetual ‘snow day’. But now, after a few weeks in the house, it can start to feel old.
Families in close quarters, all trying to keep some semblance of normalcy, can be a challenge. Kids of different age groups bring unique sets of challenges and needs. Here are some tips for children of all ages to keep you and your family sane, productive and maybe even having some fun.
“I’m Bored”: Younger children tend to be the neediest and demand the most attention from parents to keep them occupied. Preschool aged children will not be able to do much on their own, so you will constantly ‘be on’ while children a bit older may be able to spend some time independently. This goes for virtual learning as well as fun time.
When school work is done, age appropriate craft projects and science experiments will stimulate their creative and intellectual sides while yoga, a brisk walk and even participating in household chores will help keep them physically active. For additional fun movement, check out theKidzBop Daily Dance Breaklive streaming daily at 3PM ET on the KidzBop YouTube channel and on Instagram @KIDZBOP. Just dance it out!
“Leave me Alone”:On a good day teenagers can be moody and challenging. Being in close quarters without access to their friends and outside activities will most certainly exacerbate these tendencies.
School will be different without the social interaction. Keep to a schedule and empower your kids by allowing them the chance to figure things out on their own. But, of course be available to help out with virtual learning if needed.
Tap into their interests and then find ways to creatively engage them. Maybe they will even let you participate, and you can discover some new interests of your own! Accept the fact that screen time is going to happen. Rather than battle over it, find ways to make at least some screen time productive and/or educational. The key is to keep it fun. How about a virtual cooking class and then have your kids try to make the recipes they learned for dinner?
Are your attempts to get them to spend time with the family not really working? It’s ok if they want to be in their rooms for alone time. They will need the chance to chat or FaceTime with their friends to make sure they still feel connected to their crew. They are missing out on fun spring activities with their friends - sports, proms, parties etc. Being able to talk to their friends who are going through the same things may be the best way for them to express themselves.
“Let Me Handle This”: Believe it or not, college aged kids could be the hardest to group to manage. They are accustomed to being on their own, keeping their own hours and making their own decisions. Navigating the distinction between that autonomy and making sure they follow the rules of the household and family can be a tightrope walk.
Virtual learning and most of their activities should be completely independent, but make sure they understand they are still part of the family and must contribute. Whether it's doing their own laundry, cleaning up their own rooms, helping with household cleaning, cooking, etc, they do have to participate in keeping the household running.
It’s also important to think about what is going on emotionally. Don’t downplay the sense of loss they may feel from missing out on their college experience. Some may have had study abroad trips cut short, some may be missing fun spring activities and many may even be missing out on commencement - the culmination of their college careers. These are significant losses for a young adult. Make sure to be sensitive to the emotional toll this could take. Communicate with them and pump them up whenever possible.
Find new ways to support each other:and of course, don’t forget about your significant other! Be sensitive to the emotional ups and downs that go along with this new normal. Many are trying to juggle working at home with a full house or even worse managing financial struggles or the loss of a job. Patience and kindness go a long way. Finding new activities to do together, like taking a virtual workout class each morning, can also be a great way to come together and support each other.
In the end, family time can be fun! There are so many things to enjoy all together:
Take a virtual vacation - pick a destination and explore. How about a virtual Broadway show? Go ahead and belt out those show tunes! The trees and flowers are now blooming. Get outside and appreciate Mother Nature’s beauty on full display. Sit down and have meals as a family...something we don't always get to do...and just enjoy each other.
These are precious hours with our families we didn’t expect but now have. Remember to appreciate and enjoy it....our fast paced lives will return soon enough.