You probably never expected to be separating in the middle of a pandemic. The good news is the separation was amicable. You and your ex- partner agreed on naming you as the primary caregiver to your kids. However, you were not prepared for what it meant to take care of your children in a lockdown.
Dealing with the overwhelm of keeping up with work responsibilities, and ensuring your children are not falling behind on their online schooling has been challenging to say the least. On top of this trying to keep them engaged during their downtime has felt like an impossible feat.
You attempt to minimize the complaints and chaos from your little ones. Even when they have fewer resources available to keep them occupied. How do you survive the disruption with your little ones stuck in one place? Save your sanity, don’t break the bank, and read on for 5 tips to help your children thrive at home.
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1. Turn everyday activities into an event and mark them on the calendar!
The reality of lockdown is that everyday feels the same. This is true for adults so you can imagine how it feels for your kids living through lockdown. Ask yourself, what activities do you do each week that could be turned into an event? Perhaps a meal the children enjoy that you make regularly. An example of this could be a pizza. If you order pizza or make pizza on a regular basis, why not mark it in the calendar and get the kids involved? Perhaps it’s trying a new pizza recipe or ordering a new topping. The kids get to choose 1 new topping or recipe each time you order pizza. They have to agree on the topping or recipe a few days before. Schedule pizza days in the calendar so that everyone in the household has something to look forward to.
2. Get outside!
Just because there is a stay-at-home order that doesn’t mean you can’t get the kids out. Let them explore the natural world around them. This includes trips to the playground, organizing socially distanced play dates outside with their friends and free play time with their siblings. Consider scheduling regular trips outside in the calendar. Create challenges for them as they take in parks, hiking paths and conservation areas.
You can get your kids involved by asking them to choose what area they want to explore each week. Or ask what items they will they seek out as they survey their surroundings. For example, perhaps on the walk you will search for a specific type of bird or animal. The kids now have a game they can play. See if there will be a winner who finds a the animal or bird on the trip! The possibilities for this game are endless! Keep in mind the more you can turn activities into a game the better!
3. Build on a theme!
If you’re sheltering in place when is the last time you got dressed up for no reason? What if you could break the boredom associated with staying at home by creating themed activities for your children? This could include a dress up day as one of their favourite characters. Or building on theme night such as pizza night where they create an italian pizzeria complete with pictures, props and and pizza maker outfits! This could also be done with a once-a-month pajama or brunch where you kids wear their favourite pyjamas or outfit and make their favourite breakfast. They can also choose a movie they want to see after the brunch. What’s great about themed activity is it creates another regular event they can look forward to that breaks up one week from another.
4. Build fun into mundane tasks.
A great example of this can be applied to the grind of preparing and cleaning up after daily meals. Making meals at home is also more affordable. Especially if you recently separated and are trying to save money now that you are living on less income. Chances are there are more dishes in the sink these days based on the fact that many more meals eaten at home.
If you are at the end of your rope washing dishes why not get the kids involved by turning dishwashing into a game? What are some of the children’s favourite songs and could you play while cleaning up the dishes? What if you added a timer and rewarded the child who washed the dishes the cleanest cat the fastest time and the end of each week? Ask yourself What other mundane tasks you could turn into an activity or challenge? You may surprise yourself with what you come up with.
5. Help them to learn something new!
The next time your children complain about being bored, think about how you can incorporate an activity in their life that allows them to build on their skills or knowledge in some way. Again, if they love pizza or hamburgers and you normally order it perhaps schedule a pizza or hamburger making night. Maybe this time THEY get to try out a recipe. Other ways to help your children learn something new is by challenging them to share a fun fact. Perhaps a fact about a favorite food they never knew about before. They could share what they learned at the dinner table.
The idea here is if you can encourage them to learn something new in lockdown and you can connect it with an activity, you are helping your children have fun as they learn. Since we still may have a ways to go before coming out of lockdown, learning tips to help your kids thrive and not just survive the pandemic can make all the difference at this time.