We all love our children. But despite that love, want to see parents cringe quickly? Tell them that they are going to be stuck inside with their children for three months or more. More than that, they cannot leave their home.
That thought in itself is incredibly overwhelming! Add to it, getting ready to cut yourselves off from the world, it’s enough to devastate any parent. How do you handle being cooped up with your kids for months on end? Don’t stress, there are answers that don’t include 24/7 TV.
Let me start by saying, I’m a mom to five kids ages 8-17. I don’t take the notion of being stuck inside my home for months with my kids lightly. While younger kids will have an easier time staying home, older kids are going to feel the isolation much more.
So how do we handle a quarantine with kids?
When I was pregnant with my second set of twins, I was in the hospital every week for a non-stress test. I had a friend who was pregnant at the same time. She was hospitalized with placenta previa. She wasn’t just hospitalized for a week or two. No, she was hospitalized for more than TWELVE weeks. And during that time, she was mostly confined to half of a small room.
How in the world did she keep herself sane being remanded to that small room for so long? Some of her tips and tricks will work for us as we talk about how we’re going to help our kids (and ourselves) through what could be a long quarantine.
(1) Start Your Day Off Healthy
Make sure that you are starting your day off with a multi-vitamin, vitamin C, and a probiotic. I would also suggest that you spend time in God’s word and prayer at the beginning of your day. We love to sing together as a family, and this would be a good time to do that as well.
(2) Make sure your kids are learning.
Whether you homeschool or not, make sure that your kids are still learning. Even if you send your kids to school, make sure that they are bringing their school books home with them as you get closer to keeping them home from school in a quarantine. Or you could put together a school kit so that you will always have items to help your children learn if they can’t go to school.
For me, it’s really simple. I have three children still in school. And since we homeschool, they will all continue doing their school just like normal. That will go a HUGE way toward helping things still feel normal.
What about older kids who have graduated and are working while still living at home? Make sure that you have conversations with them now about when you are going to tell them that they can’t continue working for a while. Have them talk to their employers NOW to manage expectations.
These older children should still be learning! As I was going through totes today taking stock of everything for our quarantine, I found suture needles and other implements for doing stitches and practice skin. Find a YouTube video on practice suturing and have them learn how to do sutures. Or have you or your kids ever made bread or noodles from scratch? Why not use some of that time to learn how to do a new skill?
(3) Make sure that you and your kids are moving daily.
If you have little kids, it’s obvious why they should do physical activity every day. But what about older kids who aren’t bouncing off the walls? Why should they (and you) exercise daily?
Studies have shown that mice were divided into three groups and all infected with the flu. One group was sedentary. One group jogged on a wheel for 20-30 minutes (modest activity for mice), and another group of mice was kept on a wheel for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Fifty percent of the sedentary group died. SEVENTY percent of the mice who ran for 2 1/2-3 hours died! Only 12 percent of the mice who were kept on the wheel for 20-30 minutes died.
Even if you aren’t going to expose yourself to the virus, keeping your body moving a modest amount can help your body better handle whatever is thrown at it.
Now, not everyone has a treadmill or a stationary bike, I get that. But do you have Amazon Prime? You can learn (or practice) yoga with your kids using this free video. Don’t like yoga? Here’s an exercise video called “Marching Low Impact.” Or buy a digital copy of “Sweating to the Oldies” and sweat (and laugh and laugh) with your kids.
(4) Play at least one game a day with your kids.
This is a great time to spend time playing some of those games that you don’t play regularly either because you haven’t taken the time to learn them or because they take a little more time to play.
Do you have two decks of cards? All you need is a Hoyle Card book, and you’ll have hours of fun at your hands.
Another thing that might fall into this category is putting together puzzles.
(5) Take a skill that you have to the next level.
Do you have a skill that you enjoy – like knitting? Take it to the next level. Maybe you could learn how to do cables or knit in multiple colors. I’ve learned a bit about spinning, but don’t take a lot of time to actually practice it. This would be the perfect time to take that skill to the next level.
(6) Schedule time for kids to talk with their friends using Facetime or Skype.
Only one of our kids has a cell phone. And her cell phone is one for which we purchase minutes. That means that calls aren’t a regular part of our kids lives. Even if your kids have cell phones, talking with friends makes so much more of an impact when they can see them.
What if your kids could ‘virtually’ get together with their friends regularly during a quarantine? They would be able share stories of what’s going on, what they are learning, and the time would pass so much faster.
(7) Enjoy movies and TV shows in moderation.
There are few things that make me feel more claustrophobic than sitting in front of a screen watching mindless TV too long. I will often feel the need to get up and do something when I’ve got an Amazon or Netflix show going too much. But that being said, sometimes, we just need to let our minds go to a more fun place and a movie or a TV show can do that for us.
(8) Most Importantly set a routine for your days.
I say this last because I wanted to give you a lot of options for filling a routine. Why do you need a routine?
When I was pregnant with my second set of twins, I was in the hospital on a weekly basis for non-stress tests. I had a friend who was pregnant at the same time, but she was admitted to the hospital because of placenta previa and was at high risk for hemorrhaging.
The thing is that she wasn’t just in the hospital for one or two weeks, she was in the hospital for TWELVE weeks! She wasn’t just confined to the limits of the hospital. She was almost exclusively confined to her small hospital room, which she had to share with another person from time to time.
How did she keep from going crazy while she was confined to such a small space?!?
The most important thing that she did (by her own admission) was to set a routine for her day. She would start it with time in God’s word and prayer. Then she would spend around two hours scrapbooking. After that, she would watch TV for about two hours. Then she would work on a crocheting something for an hour or two. Her kids and her husband would come and visit her for a couple of hours later in the day. She would spend some time reading after that. Then she would spend some time coloring in a coloring book.
Her routine kept her from going completely stir crazy. So I want you to take 10-15 minutes and using activities from above or others that you come up with on your own to set a schedule for yourself and your children so that you have a routine for when you all are quarantined.
Will the routine change once you get into your quarantine? Absolutely! Some things will work. Some things won’t work as you envisioned them, but you’ll be giving yourself a framework for your family. Change it around, turn it on its head if need be. But make sure that you actually have a routine so that everyone doesn’t go completely crazy!
What About You?
What other ideas do you have on how to keep your kids from going crazy during a quarantine? How long do you anticipate that your family will need to be in quarantine? Are you concerned about missing any really big events because of the quarantine? I’d love to hear! Share with us in the comments so that we can all be better prepared.
Together lets Love, Learn, Practice, and Overcome!
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