This is a very stressful time for raising kids.
The decision making involved in determining which school model is not only best for my family, but best for my child alone is daunting. Every family has a different story — these are hard decisions. No matter what you do choose, make sure it is sustainable for you as parents. Raising kids is hard, they sense when stress is present — we often underestimate their keen observation abilities.
There are several things that can help us stick to simplicity during complex times. Kids do very well with simplicity. It’s us adults that struggle with this concept.
Tips for Raising kids during a pandemic
Create a consistent and cozy bedtime routine. Children need a regular ‘bedtime’ every single night. We start our bedtime routine before the actual bedtime. So, if bedtime is 8:00 pm — we start the process about 7:30 pm. I set an alarm on my phone that has a distinct calming ringtone when I want that process to start. They know exactly what it means when they hear it! That predicted time for them brings security and sets their internal clocks to follow that pattern each night. Eliminate electronics at bedtime. Technology stimulates us — I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want is my children to be stimulated at bedtime! We read 1 book. We say a prayer of gratitude. I set out some legos, books, or small figures for bedtime toys. These are very simple toys — helps them wrap up their day of playing, calms them, and then they are out (most of the time). If you already have electronics in their bedtime routine and try to break this — it is completely normal for it to be a nightmare! Don’t give up — that just shows you how addictive it is.
Let them play. Play takes an important role in brain function and building social bonds. Independent play is also important. Let them play — outside, inside, with toys, with friends, independently. Let them talk to themselves in role play. Let them get dirty. In our culture, our child’s schedules are often more hectic than our own. We are the parents. I think we have to step back and ask ourselves if all of it is truly necessary. Our kids can choose 1 activity a season — nothing more (the bank of choices that we provide to them is by our design). Family and school are first. Extra-curricular activities are wonderful for kids, but also very separate from ‘play’. While it is important to play with our children, they do not need to be entertained constantly regardless of what they may think at the time. Boredom brings creativity and delayed gratification. Play relieves stress that your child may be expressing. (note: make sure all children are monitored by an adult when playing)
Talk to them. This may sound a little too simple, but there’s a lot of power in human interaction — especially between parents and their children. Talk to them. Ask them how they are doing, how their meal tastes, if they feel sleepy, how their teacher liked the project they worked hard on — show interest in what is challenging to them during these difficult times. Share yours. You are increasing their vocabulary and creating a bond — making them feel safe. It is so simple, really. With that being said, refrain from adult conversations and worrisome topics. Pediatric anxiety is on the rise. Seek confidence in an adult family member or friend to help alleviate the heavy burdens that we are all dealing with.
Comforting Dinners. You do not have to prepare expensive meals or even cook at all. Cozy dinners consist of eating a meal together with an equal balance of conversation, laughter, and maybe even a lit candle or lantern on the table. Last, but not least — include them in meal prep and also cleaning up afterwards so that everyone can enjoy the evening. This is a pleasant way to end the day — together, full tummies, and relaxed.
Be a Good Learning Coach. As our children get older, the content of their school work becomes — well, complex. This is frustrating and can create a lot of stress in your home, especially if there is homework or a test to study for. Creating a consistent “study time” helps tremendously. I like to set up a cozy little area for the kids to work. This is usually the kitchen table or the bar so that I can be there when I am needed. Turn on a little instrumental music. I always let my children play, play, play before homework. They need that stress release! They are fully aware of their study time. I usually let them get a snack and a drink. I also turn on some soft music as well. This next part is tough but important. Children act very differently with their parents than they do with teachers. Encourage your child to do a portion of their work (homework, remote work, practice) independently and then check their work giving them feedback, then allow them to move on. Homework in small doses is easier to digest. Do not give them the answers or get frustrated with them. Productive struggle is good. Stay encouraging and consistent. Have reasonable consequences in place for good behavior and defiant behavior. Never add to the chaos or take anything personally. Honestly, I hate working when I get home too — but, sometimes I just have to do it.
Theme Nights. Every now and then schedule a theme night at home. With the holidays coming up, this will be fun for everyone! Here are a few examples.
- Game Night
- Movie Night
- Craft Night
- Holiday Themed Night
- S’mores Outdoors
- Outdoor Movie Night
- Cozy Up With a Good Book and Hot Cocoa
- Dance Party Night
- Karaoke Night
Theme nights are a BLAST and cost very little money. It’s also a creative way to be active together as a family and stay safe at home, all cozied up!
The most important thing we can do during tough times is to never lose sight of what’s most important and find gratitude in what we do have.
Simplicity lends clarity.