Where to even begin? In the DMV area, we are now facing at least two weeks of homebound activities. All week long we have received notices of school closings. Initially, closings were for clean up, later for remote learning preparedness and now for an extended closure to limit the spread of the coronavirus. It altogether a lot of information. The constantly evolving news leaves many of us feeling uncertain and wondering how we are going to survive.
Now, when I say survive I am not talking about the virus. I mean surviving the lockdown with your partner and kids. As a stay at home mom I have been dealing with flu season and remote working from the husband for a couple of years, but I’m still trying to figure things out. I love my family, but the million questions and nonstop feeding could potentially turn into a big mom meltdown. I need some order and structure to fully function and have time for the things that need to done, like writing this article.
When I initially looked at the potential shut down, I started to prepare as we usually do when a snow storm is about to hit. Get food first and then organize some arts and crafts to help the kids get entertained. As things slowly evolved and I started to notice some patterns across the world, I decided to take measures to level the national emergency. Step one: Enough wine for mom!
Jokes aside, I thought it would be useful to share what our survival strategy is. Again, after living through many bad flu seasons and a series of ER visits during such seasons, my number one priority is to limit exposure to prevent from getting sick. Now that schools are officially closed, we are looking into ways to work as a family and still love each other when this is all over. It is not an easy process, my son is already sad to miss his classmates for a couple of weeks.
So, what is my survival strategy?
1. Set up a schedule
Our boys are used to their routine at school. Their teachers have a clear schedule for the day written on their white board every day. Our plan is to do the same. We had a conversation with Santi this morning and we came up with a draft of what our days would look like. I plan on writing it on our little board. Of course, this is very flexible and we can work things as we go, but its a good initial place for order and it will give them an idea on what they can do next. If you have little ones, stick to the nap schedule and if you can, program work calls around that time.
2. Meal Plans
Never has this been more important. I usually do a very vague draft of what we are going to eat, but I make adjustments and add ingredients during the week. Under this scenario, we are homebound with somewhat limited resources. I also wont have that much time to cook, as they are beautiful demanding human beings constantly needing interaction. So, have an idea for breakfast to quickly prepare as they wake up, an easy lunch (maybe what you would so if you send them school lunches) and dinner as usual.
Having the plan means that if time runs up, you wont need to panic. Again, think that if you need to send an email for work it will probably take you a little longer because you will need to answer things like: What is a fiery sky? What is the scientific name of a leopard? Or I need to go potty! Also think about the multiple snacks during the day, because they love to eat. You can also prepare your lunchboxes as usual so that when it’s lunchtime they can get things on their own.
I always have a drawer full of workbooks and paint kits. This week I made an extra run to Michaels to stock up on crafts. Also, encyclopedias and books are a great tool. Santi usually works on presentations for his class so we plan to continue that. He does some research, writes it down and then looks for pictures and makes his presentation boards. I will have him do that and then present when ready. For my youngest, coloring books and simple counting sheets will work.
I picked up science kits and specific craft projects that I will bring out gradually and on an as-needed basis. I will let them go through what they already have and maybe in a couple of days introduce the new kits. You can also come up with creative indoor activities, make forts and simple arts and crafts. I also plan on starting our garden earlier (thanks MamaInstincts for the tip).
Within their schedule, set up time for them to help around the house. Clean up after each meal, help unload the dishwasher, help with the laundry. Divide things among all family members to keep the load from falling on you. Also, make sure to have a daily clean up from their toy area, just like they do at school.
5. Get dressed
This might sound silly, but get your kids to change like they would to school every day. This will change the mood from a weekend or vacation. Yes, it’s sort of a break for them, but the adults around still have responsibilities. We have things to finish, work to submit and articles to publish.
With all of this I am not saying I intend to be screen-free. I am very thankful for Disney Plus, Netflix and Amazon Prime. I will, however, try to limit screen time to emergency meetings, calls and when quiet time is a must. Having this survival strategy in mind will better suit us for what is to come.