Tapping the kids to the wall or shutting yourself up in the closet are not real options in these times, but it is fun to laugh out loud and imagine them stuck there and not running circles around you while you try to telecommute. It’s okay, pause for a second and see it in your head. Honestly, that doesn’t make you a bad person, you’re not alone.
In a world that has caused us to think and react too rigidly, it is okay sometimes to let go and shake off the negativity of others. I have seen parents that I know personally get slammed on social media because they want to send out an S.O.S because they’re home alone 24/7 with their children. Pent up energy can cause a routinely behaved child to become anything but behaved. Some of the best parents I know can whisper help, rightfully so.
I’m not a child, obviously, and I have found myself walking around the house like a bouncy ball thrown from a Mardi Gras float. When we are forced to stay isolated and away from our friends and family we all have a tendency to ‘act out’. The key to maintaining sanity is simple, but it is something that you have to actively participate in.
I used to take a lot of road trips with 4 children and initially, the thought freaked me out. Eventually, I got the hang of it and think the skills that I learned then can help a lot today, at home. When I tell you, you will laugh at the simplicity and then probably exhale loudly saying, “I can do that.”
While on the road I felt it important to keep schedules with the kids. I had always been a believer in schedules at home on a day-to-day basis. My life and the kids’ lives seemed to do better, in school and at home, with structure, so why wouldn’t a road trip be handled the same. (or a quarantine situation)
I think that it is important to have a quarantine schedule or you will have a week or month of Saturdays and as appealing as that is during normal 9-5 days, now is not the time for that. It definitely sounds silly, I know, but imagine doing this for a road trip, I felt stupid, but it worked and with 4 kids under the age of 8, stupid never looked so good.
When you choose to do a schedule, think of everything, overthink it. The more head time that you put into it the easier the days will unfold, I promise. Make a list of snack time, playtime, quiet time, nap time if it applies, schedule everything. Here is one of the most important things about scheduling the days, only schedule everything, don’t put a hard time on each activity. You will know in your head what should be done and you will have a sight list to keep things in order and on track. If you apply times to everything you will actually end up stressing yourself when you can’t or don’t meet the time you predetermined an activity to do. It really just has to do with structure, once you have that, you have the world.
If you need help with activities, everything you need is probably at your fingertips. Coloring can become more than scribbles on a page, they can become a letter to a friend or a grandparent. Old t-shirts become pillows. Flour and water become the base for paper mache. Used toilet paper rolls can become an art piece. There are a million ideas online. There has never been a better time to let them make that living room fort, the making and putting it away part(s) are all part of the distractive activity.
If you aren’t a big crafter and are having trouble gathering ideas and acting on them, do you bake? Are you saving your eggs for ‘real’ food? No problem, give them a kitchen task to help make a meal. Yes, it does breed a mess, but you are doing things together and they are not, with any luck, bouncing off of the walls. Baking, not your thing? How about face-timing grandma and play go fish with her. Instead of reading a book, try sitting down together and writing one, ‘The Quarantine Stories’.
Make a schedule, create structure and enjoy your extended family vacation. There is plenty of time to stress, and there will be moments, but each day set aside time to just breathe and be thankful for these moments that, in the end, will be gone too soon.