In a time of social distancing and extreme measures, how do we keep things as normal as possible for ourselves and our kids?
The good news (and who doesn’t need some of that?) is that we don’t need to take extreme measures to keep our kids happy, which will help with our sanity, even if we are stuck inside during these unprecedented times.
Whether you’re a stay at home mom who is missing community classes and playdates or a parent working from home, here are some tips for on how to survive social distancing with young kids at home – outside of the obvious (and necessary!) coffee, chocolate and showtime crutches.
15 practical survival tips for families
1. Dedicate time to get organized
Life is going to look different for awhile. Now is the time to organize your space for your new normal – this includes setting up any home office space, organizing your food (fridge and cupboards) and reminding yourself of what kid supplies you have on hand.
2. Keep your morning routine
Pajama parties can be fun if everyone is home these days, but keeping routines like getting dressed, teeth brushed and eating breakfast will keep good habits for the future and make everyone feel a little more human.
3. Make a loose plan for your day
Do you have work calls to take or nap times that are scheduled? Plan around the major must dos and be realistic with expectations – these are strange times and some days will just be survival. Share the major events with your kids, so they know what to expect.
4. Mix it up
Remember activities can be simple, but anticipate changing them often to keep your kids engaged. For early toddlers, consider setting up “stations” or themed with different materials or items to migrate to and from. For example, blocks in one area, music instruments in another etc.
5. Less is more in terms of “stuff”
Create focused activity spaces by moving clutter and changing up where play takes place. When one activity ends try to work together or have your child pack it away before the next starts.
6. Buy yourself time by adding water
Whatever your space, find a way to allow your kid(s) to play with water. Let them bathe until they’re wrinkly, fill up a bucket of water and add kitchen utensils, draw using the shower condensation, or fill the sink and let them at it (obviously, keep in mind your kids age and don’t leave anyone tiny unattended!).
7. Seek out 1-2 virtual activities that suit your child
Many businesses are moving online. Along with virtual tours and online book readings, some of your local favourites like Signing Babies, Music with Marnie and Chorus & Clouds are offering a mix of free live sessions and paid online classes. Let your kids know if their friends are joining in too, so it can feel like you are all there together.
8. Substitute screens for audio only
If you’re looking for an alternate option to screen time, try using a Bluetooth speaker or smart phone app to play audio books, podcasts or even just the sound portion of favourite shows.
9. Bring outdoors activities in and indoor activities out
Set up your camping tent in the living room (for hours of fun and a good way to hide clutter!), or bring drawing material and building blocks out to whatever outdoor space you have.
10. Connect with friends and family virtually
Just because you’re distancing doesn’t mean you should avoid communication. Have grandma or grandpa read a book over FaceTime, join your friends for a glass of wine over Google Hangouts, or attempt a daytime Facebook Video playdate (note: these seem to be more successful when the platform includes augmented reality options!).
11. Take advantage of down time
More than ever, use your kids down time (naps, quiet time or evenings) to catch up on everything. Decide whether that’s work, rest or some time for you to mediate for 5 minutes or catch up with friends over a virtual or phone date.
12. Get fresh air
Open the windows, go on your balcony, go into your yard if you have one or even use your discretion to go into an isolated part of the great outdoors. You’ll feel a million times better with a little Vitamin D. Avoid playgrounds, or areas / routes where maintaining 6ft of distance is hard.
13. Create movement opportunities
Kids need to move! Depending on your space or lack thereof, you may have to get creative. Dance parties, Simon Says, and songs like Sleeping Bunnies or We are the Dinosaurs are great ways to burn a little energy.
14. Allow yourself some grace and flexibility
Kudos to anyone actually getting work done with kids at home. Kudos to those who are doing their usual thing, but aren’t going to playgrounds, playdates or community centres. Kudos to everyone trying. It’s worth it.
15. Find and create laughter – practice gratitude
In a time where anxiety, sadness and fear may be soaring high, finding ways to stay positive is paramount for you and your kids. Share what you’re thankful for at the dinner table, be silly, indulge in some memes and smile for what you have today.