We are all stuck at home with our kids. I personally have never had the distinct luxury of sending my children away for an eight hour period five days a week. (Full disclosure and all sarcasm aside I am blessed to have been able to stay home with my kids, and it’s also my own personal hell.)
That has been a never-ending blessing for this period of self-isolation. It means that my children’s whole lives have not been upset by the minimizing of the gatherings of people. It means that home life is still the pivotal point of their experience and it is this that has held them in a worldwide crisis. And it means that I know a thing or two about spending a shit fuck ton of time with my kids.
Spoiler alert: It’s all about rhythm…
That and being open to compromise. Now I have literally written a whole blog post about how there’s not a TV at my house, however in this period of time I am absolutely using the vast resources that the Internet has to provide educational opportunities to my children and to give me short periods of respite to do the work that I still need to do. Because I work from home and am now essentially homeschooling my kids’ ages 2,3 and 6.
So what I would like to offer at this time is first a generic outline of the structure that I provide my children on a day-to-day basis, and then ideas for filling in those blocks of time.￼
One last caveat I would like to offer is that their are of course time where things do not go according to plan and then is when I turn to media or a device to bail me out. This could be a preapproved quality content movie, ballet, a live stream zoo webcam, or educational videos from the aquarium. Or something more like looking at exhibits posted by galleries and virtual tours of museums, which involve more participation on my end.
6:30-7:30 Breakfast: This could be any combination of eggs, fruit, toast, smoothie, pancakes, waffles, peanut butter, French toast, yogurt, granola, etc. I make extra pancakes and such on the weekends to heat up and serve during the week. Also, I never do sugar in the morning so if people want something sweet I use date syrup.
7:30 – 8:30 Getting Dressed: Maybe it is just me but I find this to be one of the most exhausting parts of my day. Perhaps it’s because my cup of coffee hasn’t kicked in yet but the coordinating of appropriate clothing, teeth brushing, medicine if needed, face washing, hair brushing, help to wipe butts, disentangling fighting siblings, and any other fun unusual that pop up takes an intense amount of support.
8:30 – 9:30 morning activity: This could be an arsenal of things. It is essentially nothing more than a supervised indoor activity. It is important that you are fully present for this period of time so that when you send them outdoors for the next chunk of time they are not constantly calling for you. It is this idea that you are filling the emotional cup up for one period of time and then that cup is slowly depleted in time away from you thereafter.
Ideas for morning activity could be coloring, listening to records, playing instruments, a dance video from YouTube, yoga together as a family, making playdough and then playing with said playdough, painting, knitting, sewing, baking, cleaning, ￼￼ etc. There is sooooo many resources online right now, I would highly recommend bookmarking a bunch to have on hand for back up ideas so that at the moment you are not trying to figure out what you are going to do.
You have to have a game plan or kids will eat you alive.
9:30 – 10:00 Snack Time: This is an intentional time to sit down and have some protein and a drink. I often do tea in the winter. Everyone gets the same snack and no one gets input about what it is. Requests can be made ahead of time but at the moment you get what you get. Once you start to compromises chaos will ensue.
The kids love when the snack has a storytime theme. Such as corn cakes with Annie and the Wild Animals or jam toast with The Giant Jam Sandwich. This is a special treat that I generally reserve for rainy days or really cold days.
10:00 – 11:00 Outdoor Play: Short of an earthquake, fever, or temperatures below twenty degrees this is non-negotiable. Rain or shine, outside is the place where creativity breeds. Make sure kids have the appropriate clothing so they are comfortable in whatever conditions are present outside. Really try to use this time we’ll. Respond to emails, do your office work, figure out how to acquire the things you need, take care of the logistics of life so that you can be present with your children during indoor times.
11:00 – 11:30 Story Time: I do this one of two ways. Either each kid can choose a short story or it is one long story (or chapter of a book) that everyone is excited about. Everyone must be sitting and no other books or toys are allowed in the space.
11:30 – 12:30 Lunch: This again is a sit-down ordeal, everyone gets the same thing. The kids often help me cook (as long as they are not coughing or sneezing) and have child-sized kitchen tools for this.
For meals, I generally provide three options and it is mandatory to eat two of them to be excused. If a child is excused from the table it means going to their room to play quietly before rest.
12:30 – 2:30 Rest: This is exactly what it sounds like. Everyone in their room, they don’t have to nap, but they do need to be quiet and respectful to others resting. It is very clear to everyone that this is also my rest time as well. By rest, I mean yet again an opportunity to get some work done. Or eat a big ass bowl of ice cream, whatever strikes my fancy.
2:30 – 3:00 Snack: Please see the above guidelines.
3:00 – 4:00 Outdoor Play: Please see the above guidelines.
4:00 – 5:00 Afternoon Activity: Please see the above guidelines for a morning activity and apply here.
5:00 – 6:00 Stuff: This period of time is a general smorgasbord of activities. There is generally a small snack, bath time, reading stories, playing outside, etc. ￼
6:00 – 6:30 Dinner: We feed.
6:30 – 7:30 Preparing for bed: This is the inverse of the morning getting dressed, but for some reason, it is so much easier. Maybe they are too tired to form a resistance? I don’t know but thank god it is, I don’t think I have it in me to do it twice a day.
7:30 -? All the things I didn’t get done during the day but needed to: It just is what it is people. The paperwork, unanswered emails, check-ins with my housemates, folding laundry all happen in this space. Also, the best things happen here. Like knitting, actually talking to my husband while looking him in the eye, eating junk food, playing a board game, watching a movie, until I finally fall asleep on top of my husband and start it all over again the next day… or until a kid wakes up yelling in the middle of the night.