Forced isolation can be great for your relationship with your kids!
All opinions of what’s going on aside… There are a lot of parents panicking on what to do with their kids. They’re not used to it. Schools are shutting down and some parents still need to work. In all reality, a lot of parents are used to their kids being in school all day and in the summer they are in camps. Now we have parents facing the situation of actually having to spend a lot of time with their kids! And a majority of those parents are trying to balance work as well.
Welcome to my life.
A serious advantage to working for yourself and homeschooling is when the world freaks out and panics it impacts our family almost zero percent.
We have our three kids home all day, every day. So here are a few survival tips for working at home with kids and just being around them 24/7 in general.
1.) DO NOT START THE DAY PLUGGING THEM IN FRONT OF THE TV.
Rookie mistake here. Going for the easy move first thing is a fail. Start the day off by spending time together. Eat breakfast together. Wrestle. Read some books. Cuddle. Walk around the neighborhood. Play in the backyard. Burn energy. Bond. Have fun. Be healthy.
Save the TV and screen time for later when you need to get work done. Getting their energy out first and having them use their brains early in the day is going to make schooling easier and is going to curb the crazies for a bit. Starting your day off with TV is going to lead to immediate complaining and whining and then trying to move on to schoolwork is going to be less than fun for you.
2.) ADAPT. This isn’t your office. This is not their school.
Don’t expect to sit at your office uninterrupted and have your 10-hour day as if you are at your office. And don’t expect your kids to sit at a desk and do their schoolwork. This is home. It’s more comfortable. It has a different vibe and that’s okay. Adapt.
We have one kid that likes to do schoolwork for 10 minutes then do 10 minutes on the trampoline. That’s fine. It’s different, but the work gets done and he functions better that way. We have another that likes to plank while he does math. That’s fine. Stand up. Eat snacks. It’s all fine. We are not replicating school. We are finding ways for each kid to learn and accomplish the tasks at hand in a reasonable time. Forcing them to sit up straight and do it your way is not always the best way. So don’t force it if it leads to fighting and is still not getting the work done.
Be prepared for interruption while you work. Thinking otherwise is just going to frustrate you. I do my best to let the kids know when I really need to focus by putting on headphones. Someone is going to pop through the door or knock on it. Roll with it. If there is an important conference call or deadline approaching, then you might have to ask mom or grandpa to take the kids to the park or for a walk or relocate to a better environment. Also, if you played your cards right then you guys have already eaten, you played and spent some time together, the kids did schoolwork, and now that you need to focus, you can bring out the big guns. They haven’t seen a screen all day! Now when you offer a movie and popcorn they are super excited to finally get TV and they sit glued to a movie for an hour or two. Boom. You get ultra-productive.
3.) CHANGE YOUR TIMING.
This won’t apply to everyone but if you can, get work done before the kids wake up and after they go to bed. You will be uninterrupted. Stress free. It requires a bit of sacrifice on sleep and watching TV, but those 2-3 hours on either side of the day free up time in the middle of the day. If you have flexibility take advantage of it.
4.) SEE THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY.
How often will you get this chance? Take advantage of it! Enjoy it! Quit complaining and just jump into the chaos. Here’s the trick: embrace the chaos. It’s all about mindset and expectations. The house is going to get wrecked. A kid is going to tell you a 20-minute story about nothing. You’re going to be peppered with 500 questions. Someone is going to break, spill, or destroy something. Yelling like a communist dictator is not realistically going to change anything. They are kids. You were a kid. I was a kid. This is just what happens. It’s not intentional…usually. They just have tiny brains and tons of energy. Enjoy the craziness, in fact, jump into it. Clean up later. But laugh, play, have fun, talk, and get the stick out of your butt. Make some memories and clean everything up later. This could be the most fun you have with your kids and the most bonding you get for a long, long time.
This is a weird situation we are in. We are working with our kids to explain this at age appropriate levels and different families have different interpretations of what’s going on. But we are using this (like everything) as an opportunity to teach. Learning doesn’t just happen in school. It happens with every opportunity. During walks and hikes. In the kitchen. Reading song lyrics with the kids. Watching Youtube videos. There’s always an opportunity to teach something. That’s how kids gain perspective and understanding. Mom and dad, you should constantly be explaining and talking about things with your kids. The best part is you don’t even have to be a genius because we live in 2020. If you don’t know what kind of tree that is, snap a picture and we can look it up online together to figure it out. “See that caterpillar there? Let’s look it up and see what it’s called, what they eat, and where they live. Who was the 27th President? Um… I’m not sure. Come here let’s look it up.” The phone can be a great tool depending on how you use it. Flipping through your Instagram feed and ignoring your kids is not quite the bonding and teaching we are talking about, is it?