Practicing social distancing is an important part of slowing the spread of COVID-19, and out of love for those who are vulnerable, and a great appreciation for those who work in healthcare, I do it gladly. I am thankful to be able to be “home based” with my children.Yet while practicing social distancing, it has dramatically changed the rhythm of life for us.
As a family with two working parents and two active junior high students, we are not used to so many hours at our home base! We have found that while so much togetherness can be a bit of an adjustment, there are many things we have the time to do right now that we normally do not. It has been less than a week since our extra-curricular activities were cancelled and school moved to home-based remote learning, but we have already had fun trying some new things.
First, we created a new schedule. It is helping me tremendously as a parent just as my class schedule helped me as a teacher. I am dealing with far fewer questions about what to do, since the schedule is reminding my kids what they should be doing. Feel free to look at our daily schedule for ideas - I borrowed parts of this from other schedules I found online. Of course, there are always exceptions to keeping the schedule, and reasons to be flexible, but it gives us a great guide. It is also good to remember to include some solitary activities, since all this togetherness can be a bit much at times!
Second, we are taking advantage of this time to teach some life skills. My kids have always liked cooking, but there isn’t always time for them to do so between school, sports, music, and other activities. We have plenty of time now, so they are having a great time planning and cooking many of our meals. We have had meatloaf, chicken and biscuits, and zuppa toscana this week, and we are all pretty happy about it! The kids are proud of their accomplishments, and my husband and I are enjoying the break from cooking. Besides cooking, Focus on the Family has a great list of age appropriate chores to consider introducing while you have the time to train.
We are also finding time to go outside as a family. So far, we have had a chance to walk the dog as a family every day. It’s nice to enjoy the fresh air, talk as we walk, wave at our neighbors (from at least six feet away), and see God’s reminders to us of new life as the trees and flowers are budding.
We are making use of the board games, puzzles, art supplies, and Legos that are often neglected during the school year. Our kids were introduced to Euchre during our family Christmas in Iowa this year, and now we have plenty of time to practice. We have almost finished a puzzle that our daughter started months ago but lacked time to continue, and a game that was gifted to us several Christmases ago has now been opened and played numerous times.
This morning, there were no assignments from school, so my kids had an open slot on their schedule. I suggested to my son that he clean his bedroom. As usual, there wasn’t a particularly warm reception to that suggestion, but his sister offered to help. The two of them spent two hours working on his room - sorting, cleaning, throwing things out, talking, laughing, and working together without the presence of screens of any kind! It was a beautiful thing. Around noon was when I thought of the phrase, “leave peaceful siblings alone.” I didn’t call them down for lunch, I waited for them to ask, and I enjoyed the peaceful moments while they lasted.