5 Tips for Families Stuck at Home
Many of us are stuck at home in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. This has made things pretty challenging for families with young kids. I’m in the throes of this too! How can we make the most of these weeks at home, without going completely insane? Here are a few ideas for you.
#1 Lower your expectations
Life is not as usual, so our expectations shouldn’t be either. When people are facing difficult times, we tend to be more lenient on them. Don’t forget that this is hard on your kids just as much as it is hard on you! Your younger children simply won’t be able to express it as clearly as you or I can. We know that our elevated tension is coming from being stuck at home too much, losing personal space, and just being at each other more than normal. But our children aren’t mature enough to understand or articulate that, so try to relax your expectations. If they spend more time than usual in front of a screen—oh well! It doesn’t make you a bad parent. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Be realistic about things.
#2 Get outside every day
A lot of fun places to go are no longer accessible, but just playing in the yard or going for a walk or a drive is still an option. Try to do at least one of these every day. You’ll be amazed how much some fresh air and change of scenery will do. Where I live, people are putting up Easter eggs in their front windows so families can drive around the city on a scavenger hunt. Great idea!
#3 Start thinking long term about school
It is likely that school is done for the year. It’s time for parents to start thinking about homeschool. You might have no experience with homeschool either as a teacher or student. That’s ok, just make an outline and then experiment with it. An idea is to create a daily schedule to follow from Monday to Friday, so that there is some consistency and learning still happening. Kids need structure, and so do we. Sketch out something that generally reflects a school day, but with more flexibility and less need for prep on your end. You can even post it up on the wall of your living room. Something like:
- 9:00 – 9:30 Math sheets (google your child’s grade and print them out)
- 9:30 – 10:00 Free time
- 10:00 – 10:30 Reading
- 10:30 – 11:00 Recess outside
- 11:00 – 11:30 Colouring / drawing / painting / craft / music
- 11:30 – 12:00 Free time
- 12:00 – 12:30 Lunch
- 12:30 – 1:00 Science (You can use Youtube videos like this or this.)
- 1:00 – 2:00 In your room quiet hour (do whatever you want!)
- 2:00 – 2:30 Phone a friend
- 2:30 – 3:00 Life skills (bake something, do laundry, play “store” and count money etc)
Then just call it a day. Let them use the iPad or watch TV so that you can get some other stuff done. You can create any structure you want! Just try and see what works for your family and adjust as needed.
#4 Remember, your kids are watching you
Our children are paying more attention to us than we realize. This is a good chance for us to demonstrate to them that peace and hope come from the Lord. If our children see us obsess and panic, they will intuitively believe that they should too. But we can show them that even when things are difficult and scary, we can still know that God is in control. This is an important season to influence our children, because they will remember how we handled this. Our best teaching moments are how we act in the face of challenge.
#5 Have family church
Is it weird? It is awkward? Is it hard? Yes, yes, and yes! But having family church on Sunday morning is a great way to show our kids that church is important. If we wait until service resumes again at our church buildings (which could be weeks or months away), we imply that worship only happens in a location. We also imply that it’s basically an optional thing we do only if it is convenient. Commit to having church as a family on Sunday morning.
Here’s how we have tried it at our house. We start our “service” at a specific time. I assign a job to each child. My oldest daughter is our “worship leader”. She picks songs that we normally do in Sunday school and have a dance & worship party in our living room. The songs are available from Right Now Media or Youtube, so we play the video on the living room TV. Next I will read a passage of Scripture, something short and simple from a child-friendly translation of the Bible. I might ask one question about it and have a brief conversation for a minute or two. Then we bring up the Bible story videos from Orange that our church sends out each week. We watch the video and take another minute or two to discuss it. Then, my son takes up an offering. We donate the money to someone who can use it (this is separate from my own monthly offering to the church). Last, my wife will close in prayer. That’s it! As an added bonus, we open the “Cafe” (our church has one normally) and I’ll take orders from the kitchen for a drink and a snack. The whole thing lasts about 20-30 minutes. The adults can watch the online sermon video later on.
Again, you can tweak and experiment with things as needed. It will be pretty crazy the first few times you do it, but remember, we could be doing this for a while, so just start with something and modify as you go. You might just find a formula that works well for your family.
Good luck parents! We are all in this together!