Call the COVID-19 cancellations and closures CRAZY – Call it SAFE – Call it FEAR – call it whatever you want, but the reality is our kids are home and the toilet paper likely needs to be rationed.
We are all asking the question “What on earth are we going to do for another week off school – or two – or however long this lasts?”
But if we look closely, with eyes fixed on God’s goodness and faithfulness, we can see that this time is a GIFT!
How will we – not just survive – but thrive the next few weeks?? One word: Intentionality.
First, deeply consider what character can (and will) be demonstrated during this “trial”.
Do you want your children to see FEAR, PANIC, FRUSTRATION, ANNOYANCE or ANXIETY in you – over both COVID-19 and no school?
Or do you desire for them to witness STEADFASTNESS, TRUST, and CALM? Will they be at peace because they see you are at peace?
They will learn from you during this time. Your intentional choices will determine what they glean.
Also, how will this extra time off school affect their character? Will patience, self-control, and discipline be thrown out the window as boredom and screen time increases? Or will they take this opportunity to be creative, serve an elderly neighbor with humility, finish a new book with determination, or simply be helpful or resourceful in your home?
They will step into the character you both encourage and expect. Role model great character and expect them to do the same.
Second, and practically speaking, you need to make a plan for how you’ll spend your time.
Schools may send assignments home for students, and like all homeschooling families know, this will likely only takes a few hours to complete. You still have many hours of your day to plan for.
Prepare for the temptation to hand over a screen. It’s inevitable.
A certain allotted screen time is okay (we recommend no more than 2 hours of personal device/video game time). But what are you going to do when it’s just too easy to keep them quiet and entertained this way? What can you fall back on to help you stay strong and brave?
As soon as you can, create a list.
- Write out all your board games, make it a goal to play each one once and create a ranking of your family’s “Top 3 Games”.
- Dust off the bikes, scooters, skateboards, and sports balls (hopefully your weather is getting warmer).
- Write out a list of projects around the house that can earn your children money.
- Here’s a fun chore “menu”
- Create a simple chore list for each child to accomplish before assignments, screen time, or play.
- Utilize free how-to-paint or draw tutorials
- Pay your kids to write 500 word essays on topics you’d love to have their insight on (technology, temptation, bullying, academic/athletic pressure, etc.)
- Or start with one of these topic ideas
- Pick a book series to read aloud – this a great time to introduce The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, or any other classic.
- If possible, read the book then watch the movie!
- Pick a book you have been wanting to read and let your children see you enjoying a good book.
- Start a (difficult) puzzle
- Download audio books through your local library or listen to podcast.
Don’t forget physical activity is MANDATORY. Ideally 1 -2-hours of outdoor playtime.
Walk the neighborhood, ride bikes, visit a local park (big kids still love jungle gyms and play areas – just bring some hand sanitizer), throw the football, kick the soccer ball, play dodge ball with your teens – or just lock the back door and wait for their creativity and imagination to kick in (kidding…kind of). One of the greatest ways to prevent/combat mental unhealthiness is through physical activity and Vitamin D (sunshine) – don’t neglect this (this means you as well)!!
Third, create a meal plan: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
This is 100% necessary (especially if you still have to go to work). This week already feels unpredictable and unplanned to your kids. Give them the extra stability (thus reducing anxiety) of knowing what to expect for meals.
Now, understandably, your grocery stores may be packed with people or already have empty shelves (why we call it COVID-19 Chaos) so get creative with what you have at the house to use up and not waste.
- Fire up your grill and make a bunch of hamburgers or chicken. Reheat throughout the week.
- Pack your kids lunches as you would if they were still in school, let them create a “picnic” in any a different room of the house or area outside each day to eat their sack lunch.
- Keep simple popsicles on hand – great as rewards and as snacks during read-aloud time.
- Let big kids prepare a dinner for the family (no homework, no after-school activities – no excuses not to!)
- Many school districts are still offering breakfast and lunch (as drive-thru pickup) to ensure no child goes hungry. Check with your local public school district to find out more.
This is an easily overlooked area but intentionality here contributes greatly to the sense of calm and stability in your home amidst the chaos out in the world.
Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun with your kids. Intentionally choose to see COVID-19 chaos, closures, and cancellations as an opportunity instead of a burden.
There has never before been such a time as this! A time when our schools are closed, meetings and gatherings are cancelled, there is no basketball to watch, and we are literally all home with our families. Satan wants nothing more than for us to feel isolated and turn to our screens for personal entertainment. He wants us to feel miserable, trapped, disconnected, and panicked.
But God is handing each one of us a gift! The gift of time – without the hustle – with the busyness – time with our children where we can do all the things we’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. Now you do. Don’t waste this precious gift consuming (and re-consuming) information about what could happen in order to gain some semblance of control. The only thing we have control over is our response.
Be brave. Be intentional. Be positive. There is good in all of this craziness.