Quarantine Support for Families – Helpful Tips & LinksPosted April 2, 2020 in Blog, Parenting From Soul
Entertaining a 5 and 11-year-old all day at home can be an experiment in patience-building. On our latest podcast episode of Holy & Human (Episode 11), we discuss the emotional and spiritual reset this time offers families, along with the parenting challenges. We addressed how to speak to your kids about Coronavirus in ways which are developmentally appropriate and compassionate to their own anxieties. With the release of that episode I wanted to post this round up all the helpful tips, crafts, apps and websites proven to be useful in these long quarantined days at home with kids.
But before I get to the links below, I wanted to remind us: As parents, we need to remember this is an abnormal time. Parenting, working and teaching are all three, separate, full-time jobs. Something is going to give—don’t let it be your mental health. Let it be the dishes, or the clean floor, or let it be some missed math homework. Don’t let it be your connection with your kids. Don’t let it be your connection with yourself.
Connection insulates us from trauma. The more we feel psychologically whole and intact, the more we will get through all this with grace. Choose dance parties, laughter and not worrying as much about the huge glitter art mess in the kitchen. Choose finding humor in the chaos and actively seek the silver lining on this collective rain cloud. Lower your expectations and remember your job is not to be Wonder Woman or Superman but to just get through this time with as much compassion and forgiveness for yourself and others, as humanly possible.
This is an opportunity to teach our kids resilience and self-care. We can teach optimism, faith and being in the present moment. We can teach compassion and self-forgiveness. We can teach creative solutions to unfathomable problems and a sense of greater connection with the whole world.
Here is a list of some practical things that have helped our kids:
- Putting a tent up in the backyard for picnics
- Jumping on the mini trampoline indoors to get energy out
- Experimental baking and cooking with the kids. They love making up their own smoothie recipes.
- Gardening (sugar peas, lettuce, kale) a.k.a playing in the dirt
- Dinosaur Eggs or freezing several little plastic toys in a block of ice and letting the boys chip away at them for hours
- Water! I’m always amazed what some time with toys in the sink (funnels, Boon toys, water whistles or just a bath filled with a nice bath bomb, helps the kids relax and get into a mellow state)
- Creating a store that the kids can redeem monopoly money for treats in exchange for chores
- Pulling an animal totem card in the morning to set intentions for the day
- Zoom calls with friends (often show and tell with toys)
- Having a schedule (I’m always shocked how the boys love a good schedule) but also flexibility to shift it if the day is calling for that
- Prioritizing the vibes in the home and emotional regulation over being strict with academics or a clean home
Personally, for myself, these things have helped:
- Dramatically lowering expectations of productivity, remembering this is an abnormal time so it is OK to let things slide
- Focusing on how I want to feel at the end of the day (Peaceful, centered, grateful)
- Listing daily gratefuls as a family throughout the day (It just feels good to remember!)
- Using this time to organize family photos and create scrapbooks (very therapeutic for me) as a family (inspo here)
- Going on evening drives to park at a scenic spots overlooking the water
Now, in terms of online support, for the kids, my 5-year-old loves the Gerald and Piggy books by artist, Mo Willams. Piggy’s hilarious emotive expressions are a great way to teach EQ (Emotional Quotient) and empathy. Mo is creating daily art how-to videos you can catch live or watch in replays later.
A good friend of mine told me about, Go Noodle, a website which engages 14 million kids every month with movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. There are lots of high energy dance routines to move along with. Some of our favorite family dance songs at the moment are Kero Kero Bonito, Jig Along Home, Bosun Bill.
Did you know Barbie teaches about emotional regulation? She sure has come a long way from when I was young.
In terms of arts and crafts I have been getting my crafty inspiration from mom, Julie O’Rourke. Her calm and inspiring instagram stories features a category called “Stayin’ put” with lots of crafty ideas. I also have been following Jessica Kraus, for years, a crafty, creative mom of 4 boys.
We have added lots of new craft supplies to our stash. White tees for tie dying and drawing on with permanent marker. A loom and yarn to play with. These felt letters and numbers are great to play with on a homemade felt board we just tacked to a wall. We ordered lots of beautiful felt from this etsy store. We purchased these cute little wood dolls for painting. These punch needle kits for kids are great. We also needed some new markers.
We have been practicing our penmanship by writing letters to family in Italy. We love the stationary from creative brand Mr. Boddington and they love to seal their envelopes with custom wax stamps with their initials.
My 5-year-old is really into taking instant photos and putting them in little books. He likes to shoot these finger rockets off at night outside with his brother. His favorite books are Frog and Toad, The Mouse Mansion (another creative author who likes miniatures) and this beautiful illustrated book of maps.
My 11-year-old is getting into making sushi, so we got both of these. He has been reading vintage choose your own adventure books, Wonder, Holes, Home Sweet Motel, Wayside School, and Dog Man (which he likes to read to his younger brother). We have been eyeing this meme game for a while so we finally caved and got it. Other family favorite games (which both boys like even with their age gap) are Sleeping Queens, Story Time Chess and the Last Mouse Lost Game. We don’t do a bunch of screen time but we have found that mellow, slow paced games have actually been a great source of bonding for our boys as their age gap makes certain activities challenging. They love playing Animal Crossing, Minecraft and Legend of Zelda, together. He practices his typing with this game, Alpha Munchies. He also likes this show, Liberty Kids, history cartoons for children.
Audible is offering free audio books for kids. This is a great site for virtual field trips (zoos, Mars, Yellowstone!) Scholastic Learn at Home has lots of fun activities like art with Dave Pilkey, the author of Dogman.
Just as important as the kids is your own personal entertainment / distraction / enjoyment. For perspective and comedy I highly recommend Brandalyn Shropshire’s “A Desperate Mother’s Prayer” (This is the audio clip we shared at the beginning of Episode 11: Parenting from Soul). Do you have a youngster asking you constant questions at home? Then you will most likely relate to this video. I have been finding fun distractions with books, podcasts and wildly bizarre TV, entertaining enough to give me a mental break from everything going on. Sometimes just purchasing cute travel bottles for handmade sanitizer makes everything a little bit better.
It has helped so much to remind myself what is in and out of my control these days.
Things I can control:
- My exposure to news & social media
- My attitude
- How I follow CDC recommendations
- Finding joyful things to do with my family
- Acting to others with grace
Things I can’t control:
- The actions of others
- If others follow the rules of social distancing
- How long this will last
- How others feel
Questions I ask myself each day to check-in are:
- Who am I connecting with today socially?
- How am I moving my body?
- When can I get outside today (In nature- choosing places that are isolated)?
- How can I treat myself with compassion today?
We would love to hear what is making life a bit sweeter during quarantine. What is working for you? Please share your tips, websites and apps below!