So, as I’m sure you know, times are interesting these days with the coronavirus shelter in place. There’s a lot to process for everyone, each setting/person/family being affected in its own way, even as we go through it together, we experience it uniquely.
I’ve come to enjoy the personal processing of life quietly, so I don’t often want to blog much based on that.
But I did think it a good idea to pop in and say we are ok.
Our family is very lucky, in that we have a lot of normal still. Blake’s job has been transitioned to him teaching the college courses online. (He goes into his empty office and labs, to record content to put online, Monday- Friday.) And of course, we had already been homeschooling our kids. So our day to days look very much the same as before.
Additionally, on some level, we have tasted some components of social distancing before, because of food allergies. (Things like we have spent holidays with just our immediate family at home many times already. So our Easter didn’t feel jarring this year.)
Of course, there are so many things that have changed. And we miss what we miss. Some of this is hard for the kids to process, its emotional. It’s strange and different overall. But we are lucky in that our day to day wasn’t turned upside.
We are still healthy. We are still growing. And on the whole we are happy— still allowing for sad as it comes. And we work towards solutions for what we need.
Two things I feel are currently worth sharing in case it helps anyone else with kids at home now.
They have have helped us in our house as far as how life is affected by having kids at home ALL THE TIME. This works for us, your mileage will vary.
First: Having Official snack time.
Kids love snacks (don’t we all, actually.) And they will literally ask all day long. (I know because I’ve lived it, and now I keep reading about others living it currently and losing their minds.) Years ago I made us an official snack time. (Because I was losing my mind.) I set it at 3:00. (Later I moved it to 2:00. Because we eat early meals and that puts about 3 hours between everything for us.)
Suddenly I told the kids they could only have snacks then. For the first day or two they were furious— so many fits, so much whining and begging and acting as through they would starve to death. But they accepted it. And then for the next bunch of weeks I had to answer the question “What time is it?” an unimaginable amount of times. But my four year old learned how to tell time surprisingly fast. 😆 And after the initial phase, snacks have not been an issue —even for the younger kids because this was already in place before they were born.
As far as the process— we have special plates we use. (Glass Vintage Snack Trays.) Because I wanted it to feel like a special tradition they can look back on. I’m very lenient with what they eat. We have a cabinet full of snacks, and they can pick what they have.
I’ve always been very verbal about how they need to pay attention to how they feel after they eat and make choices that help them feel good. And I’m also very clear about how if they eat through the snacks before our next grocery trip there will be none until we shop again. So they are excellent at not over doing it. Sometimes a visitor seems surprised by our level of snacking —the kids usually get themselves a handful of potato chips, a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon scoop of (dairy free) chocolate chips (the spoon is the way we ration it fairly over the week), a fruit snack or fruit roll up, and one little Aldi (allergy free) cookie. (Or if we have left over cake/ fancy desserts they choose a slice of cake or normal snack.) So while this seems like a lot of snack food— it keeps them from even seeming to crave any extras during the day. And the rest of the day they eat so healthy— totally unprompted. I let them get their own lunches together and it’s truly mind blowing to me how healthy they are— I wasn’t for sure at their age. I think we have found our good equilibrium. I also think it may aid in their future eating habits— balancing coming easier perhaps.
(Side note: I also have a snack at snack time too. However, mine is less extravagant.)
Second: Fun (Cleaning) Friday
This is only about a month old at our house, I benefited from another mom sharing the cleaning component as part of her normal homeschooling routine. And then made it our own.
So on Fridays now, we basically unschool in the morning — I told the kids to think of anything they want to know more about and I will do my best to find a documentary about. So far we have watched about dinosaurs going extinct, panda bears, parts of an orchestra, dolphins, sea turtles, and deep ocean creatures.
Before we start the movie we clean up the family room really well, spread out a blanket, for the popcorn I make.
(Side note: if anyone is looking for a diary free version of cheesy popcorn— look into nutritional yeast. (It’s yellow flaky stuff we buy in the bulk area of fancier/more natural/crunchy grocery stores.) You just sprinkle it over the fresh hot popcorn with some salt and stir it around. It was not immediately yummy to me— because it’s not dairy— but I acquired the taste and now I love it and crave it. And they kids are obsessed.) (Nutritional yeast also goes into many cheesy recipes well.)
After the movie they are assigned chores which earn them one show on Netflix, after the chore is done. And we try to do a least two, or three time chunks of chores and Netflix. But it depends on what we need to do.
I’ve mainly used this to accomplish stuff that nags me but I can’t get to on my own.
So far in our month of Friday efforts, we have super cleaned the kitchen cabinet faces and appliances —scrubbing off kitchen grease built up and little splatters that accumulate. Deep cleaned the three bathrooms. Super scrubbed down our painted stairs. And gone around and dusted everything and cleaned the windows.
This works well because it’s usually during nap time for my toddler, or if not one of us can keep her out of the mix. (And I don’t have to dedicate nap time to formal school lessons.)
I have loved Friday’s since starting this. We love the morning. (I love documentaries myself. And they like they popcorn and group time and predictable routine mix up and.) And they are ok with the chores, love the Netflix rewards. And I am thrilled with the overall uptick in cleanliness. Plus I have a goal of them knowing the ropes of keeping up a dwelling by the time they are adults.
This concept has been so great because I have been struggling for a while figuring out how to balance these elements. And this just clicked for us this way.
Right now the chores have to be pretty much narrated by me through the whole thing. But I have faith that after a while this will be stuff I can set them to do alone because they know how.
(They have been cleaning the family room so often they can do that unguided— so I have the proof there.) I’m willing to spend the time upfront for the payoff later.
My oldest two do most the chores, but my 4.5 year old helps as much as he can.
This stuff does take a small amount of forethought for all of us. I let the kids know on Monday to be thinking about their documentary ideas. I spend some time thinking what chores really would be best. And if they tell me soon enough I spend some time looking for the best documentary on the subject. But overall it’s pretty easy to just do.
I hope that as my kids get a little older (and I’m out of that must-always-have-eyes-on-the-toddler phase) I can add a bit more into our Fridays. Something like art or baking lessons. But for now this is all we are ready for.
(As a reference point my kids are currently 9.5, 7.5, 4.5 and 1.5)
Anyway. Those are a few things I’ve been happy about. (And FYI, We aren't this together on every level. And even though we clean like crazy on Friday, by Tuesday our house still looks like a tornado hit it. Zero perfection over here.) But I’m mentioning it because maybe they can bring you some kind of happiness or help too. Or just prompt something unrelated but somehow related.
But if not, that’s totally fine. Do what works for you! Best is different for everyone.