The world around us is crazy right now.
There’s no denying it. What we have to remember is to not add to it. Be the calm in the midst of the chaos. Most of the schools are shutting down for at least a few weeks, and possibly even the rest of the school year. I know this brings a lot of fear, worries, and panic for some of you. But I would like to help you find the positive in the middle of all of it.
Maybe this time off is what your kids need. Maybe we need to get back to a more simplistic style of learning. Maybe our kids need more of the love and compassion they can find at home with you (teachers are awesome but there’s nothin’ like that mama love).
I want us to look at this crazy time in our world as a time to reconnect and realign our family values.
I will be the first to say I KNOW how hectic your days will be with your kid(s) at home 24/7. Stay at home mom here, I live this hectic life daily! Let me give you a few tips to make your days easier and give you a few activity ideas for when you run out of your own.
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My first tip is to create structure.
Your normal routine usually consists of wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and head off to school for 8 hours. Well now you have to find things to fill that 8 hour gap.
You may be thinking its best to just give the kids a break and let them have free time all day long.
Unlimited free play + unlimited screen time + unlimited snacks = a recipe for disaster
Trust me when I say you do not want to do that. It may work fine for the first day or two, but how exactly were you feeling towards the end of spring break? Wore. The. Eff. Out probably.
Our daily homeschooling schedule looks a bit like this :
- 7-8 AM – Wake up, Coffee + Email check for mom, iPad or TV time for kids ( whatever app or show they choose)
- 8-9 AM – Breakfast and our morning chore (clean up breakfast and straighten up their bedroom)
- 9-10 AM – Outside time if the weather is nice (we use this time to do exploring, reading, counting, coloring or chalk)
- 10-11 AM – Snack and TV (PBS kids, Netflix or Disney+ documentaries, GoNoodle, “education for ____ graders” on YouTube) or iPad time (doing an educational app..not free play) or Art
- 11-12 PM – Mom puts the baby down for a nap, gets lunch ready
- 12-1 PM – Lunch time, afternoon chores
- 1-2 PM – Individual learning time using ABCmouse or our funschooling workbooks,
- 2-3 PM – dad comes home, nap time for baby, quiet time for bigger kids (reading or educational shows)
- 3-5 PM – Free play or outside time
- 5-7 PM – Dinner, baths, family time
- 7-8 PM – Lay down with a movie on for the kids
- Lights out by 9
Keeping some sort of structure to your day will keep you and them from going crazy. Write down a plan that works for your family, hang it on the fridge, and let the kids have an idea of how your next few weeks are going to look like.
Keep in mind we do run errands, go out for lunch sometimes, and have the occasional appointment to tend to. I note these things on our kitchen calender.
Why you should limit screen time
I think it’s so important to limit screen time. I’ve been the mom who said “ehh I don’t care because my kids use it for education too”. Well, present me just shakes my head at the old me. Over time I caught on to the fact that my kids were much more behaved when we had a busy day and they were off of their iPads or TV for the most part.
Their behavior drastically improved when I deleted Youtube Kids.
Yeah, they were mad. But when don’t our kids get mad at us?
“But YouTube kids is monitored and kid friendly, why did you delete it?”
I have a list of reasons that may convince you to do the same but for now I’ll stick with one.. how many of those Youtube kids are using yes ma’am, no ma’am, please, and thank you? Not many that’s for sure.
And the majority of them are back talking, sassing, not listening, and making the rules for the sake of making a million dollars. Your kids don’t understand that that is (hopefully) pretend play and they start picking up those mannerisms. That means they start disrespecting you as a result.
You may think it’s just your kids being brats and forgetting that they have home training, but in reality they’re being taught to behave like that.
Go ahead and do a test run by deleting the app. I promise after a few days of relearning how you expect them to act, they’ll be brand new kids.
Another reason to limit screen time is because when our kids are watching tv or on their tablets, that’s all they’re focused on. They don’t hear you call their name until the third or fourth time (after you’ve already lost your shit) and they sit there staring while eating ALL the snacks in the house.
If your kids use iPads, they have a handy tool in the settings to help you limit screen time automatically so you’re not having to watch the clock. You can even block certain apps and leave others up all day (or however long).
Don’t let your kids use this “free time” off of school as an excuse for unlimited screen time. Get back to basics!
A list of screen free activities
These aren’t in any specific order, they’re just a list of our favorite activities that don’t include technology!
- Grab a deck of cards and play Go Fish
- Chalk the driveway
- Create something with pipe cleaners, pom poms, and googly eyes (grab these items at the Dollar Tree or this huge bucket on amazon)
- Draw on paper plates
- Draw on a poster board
- Build a lego town
- Create a book using sheets of paper folded in half and stapled together
- Sort and match socks, winner with the most matched socks gets to choose dinner, movie, etc (counting lesson and chore all in one)
- Use an empty egg carton and go on a nature hunt (put your treasures in the carton)
- Write letters to nursing homes, fire departments, family members, etc.
- Get messy in the kitchen, help mom cook/bake
- Take a bath and let them play for however long they want (GREAT distraction)
- Have a picnic on the porch (or grass)
- Search for bugs under rocks and logs
- Dance party
- Organize the toy buckets (they always find “new” toys to entertain themselves)
- Ride your bike
- Walk around the block
There are so many other screen free, cheap (or free) activities you can find all over Pinterest and Google. Make it fun, get off your phone with them, and enjoy this time together! Think of what you did when you were a kid, and teach those things to your own!
We live in such a busy, technology filled world today that it’s hard for our kids to come up with these screen free ideas on their own. Give em a little nudge to “descreen” and they’ll love it!
Unschool your kids and learn through play
Don’t be so worried about your kids missing out on their everyday curriculum. There is SO much we learn through play and everyday life. They will not fall behind. They will not have to repeat this grade. Stop stressing yourself and just go with the flow.
Have conversations, read your bible together, count your steps out loud, teach socialization skills with Barbies, teach them life skills like laundry and dishes.
But most importantly, teach them love. Let them know how excited you are to be spending this time together with them. Yes you are probably going to want to pull your hair out some days but we all do.
Your kids are not bad. They’re kids. They’re bored. They want to be busy.
Use this time of chaos to connect closer as a family. Get a taste of homeschooling (or unschooling) and learn through play and love.
Wash your hands, say your prayers, and think happy thoughts.
Be the calm in the midst of chaos.
To read another life changing mom tip (that will definitely help you on this temporary homeschooling journey) click here.