6 Tips For Staying Sane during School Shutdowns

Also Read: 5 Good Things About CoronavirusMy kids are “learning from home” for the next two weeks (at least.) This is unprecedented and stressful, but there is no getting around it, so I think we have no other choice but to buckle down and make the most of it. Read: How we can reframe this crisis.

My group chats are blowing up with gifs of pain and suffering and wine drinking, lots of wine drinking. Crap! I’m not equipped. I have plenty of wine, but other than that, I am not equipped to homeschool my kids, because let’s face it, that’s what “learning from home” really means. No matter how many worksheets they come home with today, I’m the teacher, the principal and the custodian for the near future.

Here are 6 Tips to Help Us Survive

  1. Set a schedule and stick with it. Everyone should know what to expect out of each day. Don’t treat this as a free for all, sleep late, get your work done when you feel like it kind of stay-home. Get them up in the morning, try to do what you would normally do before they left for school. Eat breakfast, yell at them to get their shoes on, scramble for library books, you know, the norm. Actually, good news, everything after “eat breakfast” can be omitted. Then, set down to work. Include breaks for recess, and focus on getting it all done in the first few hours of the day. Depending on what they have to cover, decide which comes first, and stay as close as possible to their daily school schedule. The rest of your afternoon and evening will be so much more manageable and stress free.
  2. Give them chores. I’ve never given my kids actual chores before, I normally just expect them to help out around the house. All bets are off when we will be occupying the same space for 14 days and not in a fun, vacation-y kind of way. Avoid frustration and yelling by setting expectations. They should make their beds and keep their rooms clean. In the common areas, they should pick up after themselves. I’m thinking about a different water glass for everyone, because my biggest challenge on the weekend is keeping up with the glasses left on every surface. If they know it is theirs they will reuse it.
  3. Make time for specials. Do an online yoga class for gym. Do a DIY project for art. Play great songs and talk about them for music. Read a book together for library. Encourage your kids to help you pick out what activity you will do for the special.
  4. Give everyone his or her own space in the house to get their work done. Set it up for them like a portable work station, and if possible, leave it set up for them for the duration. Make them responsible for the organization of their spot.
  5. Focus on learning and education during these weeks, as you know, no matter how hard we try, their actual learning will suffer. Watch documentaries everyone may find interesting. Do online music lessons. Give each person, including you, something short and easy to research and talk about at dinner. Expose them to a new language, a new culture and new theory … anything that will get their curiosity flowing.
  6. Stick to the main meals. You are not a sous chef and you will quickly come to resent being the cafeteria lady if the cafeteria is always open. Avoid snacking and grazing. It will throw off their blood sugar, and create both fatigue and hyperactivity. We need these kids at their best, so we don’t end up giving them up for adoption or having a nervous breakdown.

For us, now is a great time to clean closets, paint a bathroom, organize pictures, etc. The more accomplished we feel, the quicker this time will go, and the more energy we will have to face another school day in our kitchen. If all else fails, set up a video conference with some other moms, pour some wine and commiserate.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at drkarenlatimer@gmail.com to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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