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Monday, April 27, 2020

Surviving Quarantine with Kids

To be perfectly honest, last week was pretty rough for us. I think my 8 year old daughters and I all just hit a certain breaking point and there were lots of tears, tantrums, and arguments. No matter how hard we try as parents, there's no getting around how tough this situation is for everyone. Today I want to share some ideas I'm trying to make staying at home a little more bearable.

1. Find Holidays

I realized that our best days were the ones when we had something to celebrate, whether it was a holiday or birthday or school spirit day. It breaks up the monotony, helps inspire ideas for things to do when we're bored, and gives us something to look forward to. So I hopped on the internet and looked up what holidays were happening each day this week and picked out one for each day that I thought would be fun for us. For example this week I picked:

Mon 4/27: National Tell a Story Day
Tues 4/28: National Superhero Day
Wed 4/29: International Dance Day
Thurs 4/30: National Bubble Tea Day
Fri 5/1: School Principal's Day
Sat 5/2: National Fitness Day
Sun 5/3: National Two Different Colored Shoes Day

Of course some days there will be *actual* holidays, but having these frivolous holidays to look forward to has me excited already! We may not actually do anything with them every single day, but we can if we feel like it, and that is enough.

2. Lists

Of course it should come as no surprise to see list-making as a coping strategy from me! There are so many ways lists can help. I made lists for my daughters of all their assignments they have for distance learning, plus a list of activities to choose from to get them off the computer in between each assignments (you can get a copy of my lists and read more about how we do that in this post).

We've also started making lists, on days when we have more free time, of things we'd like to do. We sit down as a family and we compile all the ideas that each of us has. Some of mine are things we *should* do, like laundry, but the rest are things we've thought about that would be fun. This is something we did on occasion before quarantine and it's really helpful for avoiding the frustration that can come in the afternoon when young children realize they missed their chance to do something they had hoped to do but never voiced. Seeing the whole list and talking through possible ideas for the day prevents the "I'm bored" moments, encourages my daughters to communicate more proactively, and gives me the chance to help them manage their time so that we're all more likely to be able to do the things we're hoping before the end of the day.

3. Virtual Play Dates

Getting together with their friends has been one of the biggest things my daughters have been missing since schools closed! But the truth is, young children don't do very well with video or phone conversations. Most of the time it's just awkward silence! The key, I've found, is to have pre-planned group activities. Our most successful virtual play date so far has been a game night with another family. We played charades and scattergories, and the game where you have a collection of items in front of the camera, one side closes their eyes while the other side changes something, and then they have to guess what was changed. Of course there are other fun games that would work over video conferencing, but those all worked really well with our elementary age children!

This situation is not easy for any of us, but I hope these ideas help you find some inspiration and joy amidst the stress. I've written other posts already about managing online learning for children, setting up schedules, meal planning, and more- don't forget to check out my centralized page for all things closures both at home and as a teacher:

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