Are your kids on spring break, or an extended break from school because of what’s going on in our world? Here are some ideas to help you get through the next few weeks at home with your kids, so you can keep the calm and enjoy this time together. Plus, why routine cards can help everyone stay on track & calm during the day.
School Break Plan for Parents & Kids
It’s been quite a week.
Just this week alone, we’ve learned that…
- NCAA March Madness is cancelled for the first time ever
- The NBA is on hiatus
- The NHL is on hiatus
- MLB cancelled Spring Training and is postponing the regular season
- College sports have been cancelled across the country
- Disneyland is closed through March
- Most universities have moved classes online or soon will be
- Travel from Europe to the US is halted
- Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson caught the virus in Australia
- All the late night talk shows have stopped production
- Toilet paper is sold out practically nation wide…
- And now schools are shutting down out of great precaution to the Coronavirus.
When I finally got the email from our school district that schools will be closing for several weeks to help prevent the spread of the worldwide virus we’re currently faced with, although I was anticipating getting the news at some point, I still felt a little panicky inside.
I completely support communities shutting down schools and sending kids home for an extra few weeks. I want to protect my family, and the population that is at highest risk.
When that email popped into my inbox though, I immediately stopped work and started making lists and formulating a plan for what to do as far as activities, school work, and a schedule with my three active kids during this unplanned hiatus.
Of course, I have to account for the fact that I can’t take them to the museum or plan playdates like I normally would and that makes things *feel* tricker than they are.
Deep breath there Mama.
I’ve got you.
We’re in this together.
My family’s plan is to stay at home, spend time in our backyard and on the trails around our house, and avoid community events for as long as we need. I’ll still need to plan time to teach and have them do homework, while I become a teacher for the first time in my life, and keep the kid’s emotions calm and the anxiety levels low, while it feels like the world stops.
My husband is a sports broadcaster and with no live sports happening, he’s out of work for the foreseeable future.
We’re rolling with it because what else can you do, and hoping not to have to pull from our emergency funds if this goes too long.
But, we’ll get through it.
We always do.
If you’re in the same boat, or maybe see this happening on the horizon for your family too, here’s how I’m handling this curveball with pragmatic planning, and not panic, that might help you too.
After all, as parents, we’re used to being flexible when it comes to a change of plans – this one just happens to be life impacting, but we’re going to get through it.
We get extra time to cuddle our babies, more rest time and maybe we can make something good out of this! Spending time with my family is important, now I just get to do it in one large dose and I’m excited about that. I might even tackle the bedroom I’ve been putting off painting, or the doorknobs that need changed out.
While life is put on pause, it gives us time to indulge on what matters the most and get back to taking care of one another.
Breathe in and breathe out…we will be fine.
Keep a Routine with Kids
There are a million reasons why routines are so important for kids, but when the world feels uncertain, the predictability of staying with a routine is what’s going to reassure and keep your children calm.
Structured days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping kids happy and healthy.
- Routine fosters consistently better behavior
- Routine gives children a sense of security and confidence to their day
- Routine makes sure nobody gets hangry (and avoid those tantrums, whining, meltdowns)
- Routine tells you when you’ll have your next break (quiet time, reading, naps, etc.)
One big misconception about routine is that it has to follow a strict schedule based on time of day. For example, a clock-based schedule may be eating at 11:30am, go for a walk at 12pm, play outside at 1pm, and so on.
For this type of break, similar to Summer, it’s perfectly fine to be flexible with your day.
A flexible routine keeps a few parts of your day consistently from day to day. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime and naps if your little one still takes them.
For example: Breakfast is always at 7:30, lunch is at 12noon, dinner is at 5:30pm and bedtime is for example, at 7:30pm. (The times change based on what works for your family.)
Then, you work things like playtime, quiet time, a walk, school work, or limited device time between those set points of your day. If playtime runs for 45 minutes one day, and an hour and a half the next day, that’s perfectly fine.
You’re just focusing on staying consistent with your meals and sleep times, and then everything falls inline between them.
If you need help with a routine, printable routine cards can show kids what comes next, and can also include chores and household responsibilities.
Here’s are three printable routines I put together for this break. You can download it here and the two options look like this (there’s also a blank routine so you can edit how you want for your family.)
Chores and Responsibilities
Sticking with a routine means including chores and responsibilities for your kids while they’re out of school.
Don’t hesitate to have your kids help around the house. After all, it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep things organized and clean, especially since you’ll spend most of your time in your living space together while school is out.
It’s important for kids to pitch in, and here’s an chart with age-appropriate chores kids are capable of doing.
If your kids aren’t helping with chores yet, now is a good time to teach them and have them contribute because you have extra time to do this.
Just remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about their effort and contribution. They may not make their bed perfectly, but the fact that they put effort into it is what matters most and you should focus on.
Stock up at the Library
I took two reusable bags to the library this week and stuffed them full of books for my five-year-old and two 8-year-olds.
I grabbed a variety of story books, books about animals, comic books, magazines and quick readers, we’ll store in a large basket in our living room. (Mostly so I don’t lose any because there are about 40 of them they lent me for the next three weeks and that’s a whole lot of fines if they’re misplaced!)
You can also borrow videos, activity books, books on take, school books and more. Be sure to grab a book or two for yourself when you’re there and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
If you’re worried about the transmission of the virus, wear gloves when handling books, wash your hands when you get back and let the books sit out in the sun for 6 hours to kill germs.
Plan for Outside Activities
Just because we’re home bound doesn’t mean we can’t go outside or play in the sunshine. (Granted, our weather isn’t freezing or snowing, but actually spring-like.)
We won’t venture to parks or places where groups hang out such as the playground, skate park, or dog park, but we can still get fresh air and sunshine, not to mention exercise, without isolating ourselves entirely inside our home.
Here are some fun outdoor activities you can do if the weather is nice:
- Go on family bike rides
- Family walks
- Play basketball or soccer outside
- Practice catching and batting for baseball season
- Use sidewalk chalk and draw hopscotch patterns
- Draw with chalk (I just bought a huge pack of chalk for this reason!)
- Go for a run
- Take the dogs on a walk
- Fly kites
- Blow bubbles
- Scooter, rollerblade, or even hoverboard outside!
When I was at the store, I did grab an electric pump to inflate our basketballs, bike tires and soccer balls because otherwise, we couldn’t do as much outside.
Health Note: Our family will be staying away from playgrounds because of the community aspect, as well as the germs on playground equipment is transferrable for several hours.
Set Limits on Devices
I know my kids are going to be watching TV or using their kindles more than they would if they were in school.
It’s a simple fact.
If You’re Curious or Looking for a Screen-Free Activity Plan…
However, I won’t let them watch a full season’s worth of episodes or back-to-back-to-back movies in one day, or even over the course of a week.
They can still play outside, they have toys, games, books, and school work that needs to get done.
We used this screen times rule chart so they can earn 60 minutes of screen time only after they’re productive little people including cleaning up their rooms, finishing chores, reading, and other things have been done.
You can download the printable below and it comes with a customizable one you can write in that’s specific for your family.
Here’s What I Bought at the Store For My Kids:
Basketball (who doesn’t love a game of HORSE?)
Toy Animal Figurines are great for bath time, sandboxes, playing around the house, with building blocks and LEGO blocks.
Highlights Jumbo Hidden Items Picture Book (this will last forever in our house and also great for road trips, flying, days off school and quiet time.)
Art Supplies I stocked up on –> Colored construction paper and pads of drawing paper, washable paint set, markers, coloring books, set of play dough cans and tools, and a new set of kid’s paint brushes.
Here are More Resources to Help You Through the Next Few Weeks:
- Detox Baths for Kids to Help Kick Colds Fast & Boost Immunity
- How to Stop Sibling Fighting: Why Your Kids Need You to be a Sports Announcer, Not a Referee
- Peacefully Calm Tantrums Using Empathy
- New Ideas to Help You Practice Calm Parenting & Stop Yelling When You Feel Mad
- 6 Steps to Handle Backtalk & Peacefully Discipline Children
- 6 Steps to Handle Backtalk & Peacefully Discipline Children