How I'm Making Life in Quarantine Work (with kids)
People all over the world are currently living under stay-at-home orders, to limit the spread of COVID-19. This new normal has millions of us re-organizing our daily lives to accommodate work, alongside the constant presence of those we live with. My family and I (including kids ages 13 and 9), are in our fifth week at home. Below are some things that we try to do to keep our days running as smoothly and as happily as possible.
Considering Yourself, First
Create a workday for yourself | A time to start, a time to stop, and time for breaks. Don’t consider all of your waking hours as work-time (neither domestic labor, nor outside labor).
Limit your time on social media and the news | Remember, the internet never ends. Be intentional with your time. It may help to turn your wifi off on a particular device, if you need to use your device for another purpose.
Create An "At-Home Wish List" | In addition to your work and family commitments, consider what other tasks you might want to accomplish at home.
Move Your Body. There are countless free movement and workout class options online. My favorite is Yoga With Adriene. Many don't require much space or equipment.
Schoolwork | Create a Schoolwork Plan. Equip kids to work as independently as possible, including providing them with dedicated space, if space permits. Discuss how much work they will get done every day, and help keep them accountable. This is a great time to get to know your kids better and to see where they might need more support.
Sibling Harmony | Find Ways For Your Kids to Bond. The more your kids have to bond over, the better they will get along. Getting along is vital for harmony in the home, especially when no one is allowed to leave, for potentially weeks or months on end. For our family, this has meant allowing our kids to play Minecraft together. With a four-year age difference, we have also loosened our standards on what our daughter is allowed to watch with her big brother (within reason!).
Life Skills | Enlist Your Kids In Home Projects. Ask your kids to help with some age-appropriate tasks, if that's feasible, beyond any regular chores. Consider what you’ve been doing for them, and what they can actually do for themselves.
Considerations for The Whole Family
Let the Sunshine In | Open all of your curtains and blinds and let the sunshine in, first thing in the morning. It will help regulate your body clocks. Weather-permitting, open windows, to get fresh air in. This has been crucial for our family, as we live in an apartment. It also helps to see daylight once we are fully awake.
Keep Time on Your Side | …by keeping track of time. This has been surprisingly tricky for me. To help remedy this, I now schedule more time-sensitive events into our days to create more structure. I have also set an alarm on my phone for every hour of the day from 8AM to 10PM.
Schedule | Create a schedule that every family member can abide by, and count on. Print it out, or invite someone to do an artistic version by hand. For younger kids, draw, or include pictures, of each activity (if they are still learning to read). Post it up somewhere, and go over it regularly, reinforcing the structure and parameters of your family’s days.
Prioritize Meals | Ensure that meals (especially dinner) happen on time. Every meal. Every day. When dinner happens late, we sleep late, wake up late, and I lose that precious creative, energetic morning time. Compliment the chef! Celebrate whoever cooks (parent or kid). Knowing that your cooking is appreciated and valued is priceless. Make more food than necessary for each meal; have leftovers available to serve as snacks, especially for kids who love to snack.
Your Home, Your Castle | Re-discover the beauty of where you live. Whether you live in a place with lots of indoor or outdoor space, or in a small apartment, look for the best of what you already have. Consider making small changes to maximize comfort, efficiency, and aesthetics.
Reach Out Online | We have taken advantage of our “free time” and the “free time” of others to re-connect with friends and family, all over the globe. These days, differences in time zone are far less of an obstacle for us than they used to be.
Make Time for “Everything” | Alternate fun, work, togetherness time, and alone time. Establish patterns that work for you, and for those you live with. Consider the circumstances and limitations of your current life. We are living in a very particular moment in time. I have had to adjust my own expectations, and focus on the essential (at work and at home). I have had to admit to myself that my mind is always half-way occupied with COVID-19-related matters. I continue to write, but not in the same way, prior to the quarantine.
Just For Fun | Make time for activities that have no other purpose than eliciting joy. A complicated new cooking project that you never thought you would have time for, movies, books, a virtual museum visit, or some pampering - whatever makes you happy! Value these things simply for the joy they bring you.
Write | Reflect On Your Experiences. There are profound lessons that we can take away from being secluded at home. From time to time, I think about what this experience has meant to me, and our family. I hope that recording these thoughts and reflections (and eventually having our children do the same) may us start to process this moment in history.