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Home Isolation with Three Children Ten and Under

4/17/2020
We never thought that a few of our daily activities that we have taken as granted for years would suddenly change due to the recent outbreak. Almost overnight, we had to adapt to living at home with our three kids, learn how to work from the home environment, and adapt to being confined at home for weeks!
 
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The scene is surreal. Never in my life did I think my family would be confined to our home for weeks, unable to leave aside for essential “supply runs.” Something we took for granted for many years now, sending our grammar school aged kids off to school for the day and heading off to work, is no longer an option for the foreseeable future. That said, we are managing as best as we can and below is some advice that I’ve learned during my few weeks in captivity.

Waking Up

I’ve read articles that say to keep your children on the same schedule as before and others that say to let them sleep in because it’s good for their immune systems. What we’ve done, is found a happy medium: since they don’t need to get up and rush to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get on the bus (all while we were trying to get ready for work), I let them sleep in later than previously, but we don’t let them get up on their own because they’d likely sleep until 10-11am.

Getting Dressed

We all still get up and get dressed – albeit not in what we would wear out of the house normally, but we don’t stay in our pajamas. This helps signify the day starting and that we’re ready to be productive and not just lounge around the house in PJs. Our school, in an effort to maintain a sense of community, still has fun days like, “crazy hat day,” “mismatch socks day,” and dress in certain color days. We can then share our pictures with teachers, classmates, and on social media, so that kids can “see” their friends’ outfits.

Routines

Try to get your children into a routine. After one week of social distancing, our children have developed “assigned seats” at our dining room table where they each set up their laptops and do their work for the day. When they are reading, we let them retreat to the couch under a blanket. At snack/meal times, they move to the other side of the table, so that they don’t get food or drink on their devices.


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Resources

The teachers in our school district have done a phenomenal job creating daily lesson plans using Google Classroom to facilitate, so our kids have a very specific agenda and assignments to complete, but there are plenty of online resources out there as well to help keep your children’s reading, writing, and math skills sharp for when they are able to get back in the physical classroom!

Breaks

Depending on the grade level, children should get an appropriate amount of work – 2 hours for grammar schoolers, 4 for middle schoolers and 6 for high schoolers. That said, don’t expect them to sit in front of their computers to get all the work done at once. We break their learning time down into 15-20 minute increments with break times for snacks, “creative time” such as drawing/crafts or building things with Legos, going outside to get fresh air (playing catch, riding bikes, etc.) as well as for lunch.

Stay Focused

Giving them breaks is necessary, but so is keeping them focused and on task. If you drag the day on for too long, they will likely burn out by the mid-afternoon and become difficult to work with, especially the younger ones. Try to get a bulk of the work done before lunch, leaving only one or two assignments for after. They will appreciate having free time in the afternoon before and after dinner.

Outdoor Time

Social distancing doesn’t mean that you have to stay inside your house all day and night. It’s still important to get your children outside to get sunlight, fresh air, and exercise. We’ve gone outside to throw the football around, play frisbee, fly drones, and ride scooters. Whatever activities you decide to partake in, the important thing is that you’re getting out of the house for a bit while still avoiding contact with others. This helps prevent “cabin fever” and the also highly contagious boredom bug!

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Electronics: Greatest Ally or Worst Enemy?

Electronics such as computers/laptops, iPods, phones, and video game consoles can be a great source of entertainment, and a way for your children to keep in touch with friends during social distancing, but it can also become an unhealthy obsession or even cause sibling arguments. Limit children’s time on electronics by setting a timer and let them know ahead of time that they have a certain number of minutes on their devices. Once time is up, they need to move onto something else – no negotiating or begging for extra time!

Movie Nights

With many streaming services available, movie nights are a simple way to keep everyone entertained and distracted. Make popcorn and cuddle up on the couch as a family – make it an event for everyone to enjoy!

Ice Cream & Treats

Many restaurants are still offering delivery and curbside pickup. One of our favorite ice cream places in town has a family deal for an ice cream Sunday bar. Pizza restaurants are offering at-home pizza kits which also make for a fun activity to do with the kids. Since we can’t go out to dinner with friends and family, this is a nice way to still make an “event” of dinner and dessert.

At the end of the day, there’s a lot of advice out there and what matters is what works best for you and your family. The most important thing is to keep everyone safe, healthy, sane and make the best of this unprecedented situation. Enjoy this time as best you can.