The past few weeks have been extremely stressful for all of us in so many ways. With the elevated announcements in just the past 48 hours here in the United States, it’s clear that the ripple effect of everything happening will impact our daily lives in extreme ways over the next few weeks.
If you are a parent, the odds are your child’s school might close for an extended period of time. We received notice yesterday that ours will be closed starting Monday for at minimum of two weeks.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of being at home with my children and potentially not being able to take them out to play with other kids, especially while I’m working remotely, is a little overwhelming. I need all the tips for extended school closings I can get!
Going into the weekend it’s a really good time to start thinking about how you’re going to make this scenario work for your family, and come up with a few ways to work through the stress that will for sure pop up along the way.
Is this going to be hard? ABSOLUTELY. But we can do this!
Here are 5 Tips to Survive the Extended School Closings that our family will be focusing on.
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5 Tips to Survive the Extended School Closings
Maintain a Routine
Even very young children thrive on routine. Kids need routine and predictability to feel safe, and it becomes even more important during a crisis.
With schools being closed and mom & dad being home from work, your house can turn upside down really quickly. It’s incredibly important to figure out what your temporary routine will be for the next few weeks as quickly as possible.
How can you do this? Set up a new schedule for your day to day life that includes the activities that need to be completed during the day (including school work, if you have older children). Be sure you also maintain a set time for going to bed and waking up! (Unless you’re planning on sleeping in too, in which case I’m incredibly jealous of you.)
Be sure to leave some room for flexibility, as all of you are sure to be feeling some level of stress from being on top of each other for an extended period, but don’t let everything going out the window. Kids look to structure to feel safe, and knowing what to expect can make a big impact.
Try to Get Outside
Fresh air can do a load of good for all of us. As of today, we haven’t been told we need to stay in our homes, so find ways to get outside!
Getting outside helps your kids blow off steam, work through the big emotions they’re feeling, and burn off some of that cabin fever. It’s also important for us as adults to make sure we’re moving enough during the day and getting a little extra exercise in.
Sit on the back deck while the kids run around the yard, go for a walk around the neighborhood or check out the nature trail down the street. Soak up the sunshine while it’s out to help you on those days when you’re trapped inside due to bad weather.
Cut Your Kids (and Yourself!) Some Slack
Know right off the bat that at some point during this time, your kids WILL drive you nuts. Your partner WILL drive you nuts. Heck, you might even be driving yourself nuts.
Being trapped in the house with even the people you love the very most can sometimes be challenging. This isn’t the time to focus on every tiny bad behavior, but to instead find a way to pick those battles.
Try to not sweat the small stuff during this time, and keep in mind that some of the things that might drive you crazy right now are things that might not bother you under normal circumstances.
If you can find time during the day to be away from your kids, carve out those pockets of time to recharge. Whether it’s time to read a book in another room, or a few stolen minutes of quiet in the bathroom by yourself, all of you will need some space from each other.
Find Ways to Manage Anxiety
As someone who already struggles with anxiety and depression, the uncertainty around what’s going to happen with Coronavirus has been a real challenge for me personally. My boys are still young enough where they don’t know what’s going on, but I know from experience that when I’m stressed out or upset, they pick up on that easily.
If your children are old enough, talk to your kids about what’s going on in a way that isn’t going to cause them additional panic. Focus on the fact that most children are not becoming very sick from this virus, and reassure them that they should be OK.
This is a great time to reinforce good hygiene: proper (and frequent) hand washing, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, even the concept of “social distancing” when it comes to all of you staying home.
If you are discussing the virus with another adult, remember that kids hear everything. Be mindful of the words that you’re using and aware that children might not have the emotional ability to process what they’re overhearing.
Find ways to help them (and you) blow off steam! Think running laps, going on a long walk if you can get out of the house, or even having a living room dance party.
Show yourself some grace. Being home with your kids all day can already be incredibly tough, but if you’re also juggling working from home (as many of us will be), it can feel like an insurmountable challenge.
The house might not be as clean as you want it to be, and Disney+ might need to become your parenting partner for a few hours. THAT’S OK. You are still an amazing parent!
Focus on Ways to Make Special Memories
This time is going to be emotionally taxing on all of us. Without a doubt we will all remember this chapter of our lives, and our children will look back on this time when they’re adults. Work to make some special, positive memories during this time too (as weird as that sounds).
Maybe for your family it’s making every night that school is closed family movie night, and rotating which family member gets to pick the movie; allowing special dessert after dinner even though it’s not their birthday; creating a backyard camping experience under the stars, etc. Even simple things like reading with your child, doing arts and crafts projects, cooking dinner together or having family game night can make a lasting impression.
Kids naturally find positive things out of the ordinary to be magical and special. This can be a great time to create some of those magical childhood memories with them, as scared as we as parents may be at times.
This can also be the perfect time to practice random acts of kindness with your kids. Find ways to help your neighbors (like running to the grocery store for an elderly neighbor who is uncomfortable going), and talk to your children about why giving back is so important. Let your child help you think of ways to make an impact.
This time on uncertainty is going to be tough. None of us know what’s going to happen over the next few weeks or months, but as parents our job is to help protect our children and be strong for them (even if we feel really scared ourselves).
Remember that you’re not alone. Stay connected to your friends, find ways to make yourself laugh, and try to focus on at least one positive thing every day.