The upcoming school lockdown is both a source of relief and stress for parents, especially those with young children. Relief because they will be relatively safe from infection and stress because we will all be stuck inside with them and are we really prepared?
Do we really have a limited option or do we need a little nudge of inspiration? Suffice to say, being stuck indoors with small children depends on how you manage them. Children are creatures of habit and disruption from their daily routine will at first create excitement which is then followed by boredom. And boredom almost always equates to fed-up parents.
Please do not forget the reason why we are made to distance ourselves and family. Please do not be tempted to go out and about with them.
If you have children old enough to discuss things with, then talk about what’s happening and what you’re going to do. Chances are they will have homework /schoolwork to do and submit to their teachers. So, planning your time wisely will make it easy if you’re working from home and had to attend and video conference. One thing we don’t want is our kids having a shouting match while we are talking to our boss or clients. Also, planning your meals ahead will save you time.
Set up a timetable (Print it and put it in places they will see)
You know what your children like to do, allocate time for them to do a bit of school work, a bit of reading and a bit of distraction. If you’re working from home, it will mean that you need to subdivide your work into time tranches, alternate with your partner to monitor them.
Make chores fun!
If you’re not working from home but have a routine, you can make this as an excuse to get the children to help out on chores. It may be quicker if you do things yourself but you’re doing them a disservice if you don’t teach them practical stuff. Besides, children already feel a sense of responsibility from a young age. If they know why they need to do the chore, shown how to do it and praised for their effort, you will have a little helper after all this social distancing is done.
Children understand the concept of missions/tasks. That is because such concepts are used in the video games they play. For example, the mission is to read properly, once this mission is done, they either get a monetary reward or additional time to play a video game or time to watch TV. If you use the gaming/TV reward, give them a basic TV time each of them can watch with no disturbance. I would say it’s prudent to start with a 30-minute timer. Personalise it to what you want them to do, what they want to do and what other rewards you can give. Remember, the tougher the mission, the bigger the reward 😉 Trouble means fines (reward deduction).
No matter what, allocate a time of the day for an hour for everyone to stay in their corner. During this time, everyone can do whatever they like in their own space. Nap, read, play… but the TV and games console in the living room are out of bounds. DND (Do not Disturb) Mode on!
The best way to get the children to help out in the kitchen and to appreciate food is to allow them to choose their food and cook it themselves. If your children are too young, let them assemble their dream pizza/sandwich/dish (you do the preparations). If they are old enough, let them try cooking their favourites!
Being stuck with teenagers is another matter. It’s not whether you have enough activities for them to do so they don’t get bored. It’s more about how often in the day they are coaxed out of their rooms and away from their phones. I would think that time on the big screen & money will also work as incentives for them.
Your garden in part of your space, so, don’t forget to use it for some outdoor activities, games, etc.