Being home with our children can be a parent’s dream. Or a nightmare. It’s one thing to choose to keep your children at home with you all day. It’s quite another when it’s chosen for you. As a mother of 4, I have homeschooled all my children for at least 3 years, two of whom have graduated high school all while I worked outside the house. When I homeschooled, I built in strategies for stress reduction and social interaction for both myself and my children.
I know it can be overwhelming to suddenly change the routine. Even more to help our children adjust, no matter their age. One minute everyone is getting up to leave the house for our respective jobs (yes, school is a job) and the next? Well, uncertainty. Maybe a little bit of anxiety fueled by the inability to get away from our little lights of love. Unfortunately, our children are also feeling the effects of this social isolation and may be acting out in unexpected or unwanted ways.
I’ve spent the better part of the last 18 years raising children and -surprisingly- keeping all my hair. I’d like to share a little of what’s helped me so, hopefully, it can help you. Below are 3 tips to stay sane when the kids are always home.
1. Spend some time away from your children.
I know there isn’t a lot open these days. It can feel like your house is caving in on you, especially if you live in a city. It’s imperative to your sanity to spend some time away from the 4 walls you call home.
Walk in nature. Sidewalks aren’t closed, walking trails aren’t closed and if need be, your back yard isn’t closed. Make sure you are spending that outdoor time with your own thoughts. Don’t talk to your partner, or stare at your phone. You can do that in addition to this time, but the key is the time away from it all to be with yourself. I know how difficult it can be to hear your thoughts with children constantly making background noise.
Get up 30 minutes before the kids. Spend some time breathing fresh air -even if it’s just on your porch or front yard. Sometimes I take this breather in the middle of the day too.
Make a plan. Plan a productive morning or a slow, quiet one. Have something to look forward to in the evening.
Break up your day with a walk by yourself. The children at home will appreciate the time to themselves as well. They don’t need to be around you all the time. Encourage them to learn to listen to their own thoughts as well.
2. Spend some time with your children at home.
Make sure this time is spent doing something fun. Like playing a game together, or learning something new. You could practice drawing or building a puzzle. My younger daughters and I had a really fun time one day attempting to make bubbles with a recipe I found online. It was a complete failure, but they had so much fun and so did I! I bought them jump ropes, so one day we all went to the driveway to see how many jumps we could make in 10 minutes. Then we challenged ourselves to increase that number for 7 days.
A lot of us are being forced to stay indoors. While we love these little humans, we don’t always know how to connect with them. That’s frustrating for them too. They don’t have the tools to tell us when they are tired, bored, or need playtime. Fun fact: EVERYONE needs playtime. Take the time to connect with them on their level. It will help them to let you go when you need to do something away from them. Don’t make “time with the kids” into school time or anything stressful. This time should be filled with something that brings you all joy.
3. Speaking of schooling, just stop.
I am a former homeschooling mother of 4 kids. I can say with authority that if you never intended to homeschool your child, now is not the time to start. Yes, you are being asked to help your child with work that has been sent home. That doesn’t mean you need to mimic the school environment.
Make sure you spend some time with your thoughts, have a good breakfast, and maybe play together. Then, ask your child what school work they want to start with. Children at home don’t need 6 hours of academics. They don’t even get that in school. And guess what? Home isn’t school. So stop stressing yourself out trying to make it so.
You and your child will be much happier once you‘ve developed a routine. Live your life together with some added premade curricula developed by a skilled professional, like their teachers. Your children will not be behind. Everyone is in the same boat. Teachers know they will have to adjust when schools reopen.
These are just 3 free and simple ways to keep your head during this topsy-turvy world we are currently living in. Having a place of balance within yourself will help you and your kids cope better.
Wondering when you’ll get your own work done? Start thinking about breaking it up into 45-55 minute chunks around when the kids are napping, resting, watching educational TV, in the backyard playing, or doing their own school or homework. This will also help you stay right in the brain. Spend time with yourself, spend time with your kids, and just allow your kids to learn at their own pace. These are small but mighty steps when it comes to keeping a sane mind.