The COVID-19 virus has officially been declared a “pandemic” and that means you’re now officially a stay-at-home parent.
Welcome to the party.
Let’s be clear about something here at the start–
Being with your kids around the clock is hard. Super hard. So hard that the next few weeks will make you wonder, at times, why you ever decided to have kids at all. They will annoy you. You will annoy them. There may be screaming involved.
But your kids are actually pretty awesome. And you are going to do a great job. (God gave you these kids; you were made for this.)
And this won’t last forever. (Repeat that as many times as you need to so you can sleep at night.)
Now I understand that some of you are in really tricky situations at this point. Maybe you are unable to work from home–or to work well from home–or you will have to take unpaid leave to tend to your kids. Maybe you are a single parent with no childcare options.
I don’t want to make light of your situation but I also want you to understand that, once you find a solution that works, this disruption could be an immense blessing for both you and your kids .
I hope you find a way to be home together.
I believe that “home together” is a great place to be, even if it doesn’t last forever.
So, whether you’ll be rearranging work schedules so you can stay home with your kids or are already home but not used to having the kids around, let’s talk about how to make the most of the next few weeks.
First, you can use this time to establish healthy family rhythms that the busy-ness of your normal lives don’t allow.
You can begin your days together around the breakfast table and share dinner together without rush and hurry. You can spend more time sharing things you love–things like reading, praying, playing, or hiking. If you’d like, you can share poetry or fairy-tales over tea or hot cocoa in the afternoon like we do.
You can incorporate your children into the daily responsibilities of home life.
They can take on more chores and household projects during the day. They can help prepare meals. They can help care for siblings. They can help you care for neighbors in need. In so doing, they will develop a better understanding for all the work that happens “behind the scenes” while they are usually at school or at play or doing homework.
You can give your children space to explore interests that are usually only afforded a fraction of their time.
They can deep dive into subjects they’ve only skimmed the surface of at school or research something they’d love to know more about. They can spend three weeks learning about whatever makes them excited to learn, whether it’s WWII airplanes or the plumage of waterfowl. Or, if they need to, they can use the time to catch up on math skills or reading assignments they’ve fallen behind on in their regular classes.
And you can let them play hard.
Without “school tomorrow” looming over their heads, your kids can immerse themselves in a favorite toy or game that usually takes too much time to play or set up (or take down). It might be playing a game of RISK, building a Lego city, writing a short story, or sewing a skirt. Maybe it’s writing a new song or organizing a game of Capture the Flag with neighbors. You child now has time to learn a new skill like embroidery or carpentry. They can read in a tree all morning; they can paint on the back porch all afternoon.
Basically, for those of you who are now on an extended Spring Break, this is your chance to experience the best parts of homeschooling without the actual “schooling.”
It sounds awesome, right? Enjoy it.
And for those whose kids have formal academic work to complete at home during this time–via digital lessons or take-home work–this is going to be a hard couple of weeks. I won’t lie. Homeschooling is hard. (Especially if you will be working at the same time, as well.)
But homeschooling is also awesome.
And with a family rhythm that works for you and your kids, a lot of patience with each other, and a little more intentional time management, you might find that it’s much easier than you feared and you’ll be surprised to see how each day affords plenty of time for both the work and the fun.
Heck, you might actually enjoy it a little bit.
If you are interested in some tangible resources that can help you order your day so it moves along without too much fruitless boredom or frustration, the internet is a wealth of resources. And there are as many homeschool family schedules as there are homeschool families because everyone’s needs are different.
I’d be happy to help you find what you’re looking for if you reach out to me. I’m certainly not an expert, but I’ve done enough research and have enough experience at this point to at least know where to find the real experts.