So, now that we are into our second week staying home and play dates are no longer an option to keep our children entertained you might possibly be finding it hard to keep the children in your house positive and engaged.
Whatever the age of the child it is important that you set the culture in the house and plan each days activities so that your children are productive, healthy and entertained while they navigate this uncertain time.
They are, more than likely, asking you when will they be able to go back outside again and why can’t their friends call over. You have to explain the situation in very clear and concise age-appropriate language.
There is no doubt about it; this is a demanding time for all of us.
The family can place so many pressures on us during good times, and now that we are in difficult times we can feel overwhelmed by the demands being placed on us as parents.
So we have to develop a strategy that saves us from becoming consumed by the times we are in. And your children need to meet the challenge too.
It is important that you do not put yourself under incredible pressure to home school your children. More than likely you are not a teacher so don’t expect yourself to be able to follow the syllabus exactly.
Set a few goals each day and strive to achieve them. But if they are not reached don’t worry.
Remember the school will catch up on all the work your child has missed. So, don’t stress yourself unduly about not being able to home school your child.
If you have a teenager studying for the Leaving Certificate, they should be following the school day.
If you are, like most parents right now, finding it hard to entertain the children in your house, I have a few tips that you might find useful:
Tips for keeping your crowded house entertaining:
- Education: Like I said, it is important that their education still continues. We do not know how long this will go on for and it is not like snow days, this could continue for some time. So, it is important that you set up a healthy routine for education. Depending on their age, teenagers should be following their school day. Children under 12 should do a few educational activities in the morning. But, don’t stress yourself out about their education. They will catch up.
- Kahoot: This is a lovely way to keep your children entertained and also has educational benefit. Set up a Whatsapp group with their friends and download Kahoot. This will allow them to play general knowledge games against each other remotely. Make sure some of the games are set up by them, like a quiz on Fortnite, etc.
- Hide and go seek: Yesterday evening I rang my brother on FaceTime who has two boys the same age as two of my daughters, and we played hide and go seek over the phone. The kids had a great time. It really was successful. So, we have to be constantly thinking of how to invent new exciting ways of being together but separately. Get creative.
- Twinkl: This is a wonderful resource for parents of primary school children. Like I said, don’t stress yourself out about not being a primary school teacher. Just pick a few topics and do your best with them, that’s all we can expect to do. They will catch up when they go back to school. Give your children a project on a specific place, time, or event. Involve them in what they undertake — this will keep them occupied.
- Cooking: children love cooking. There are loads of fun recipes online. Allow the children to choose what they cook.
- Games: Old-fashioned games like cards and board games are a great way to keep the family entertained during this crisis.
- Mental health: it is very important that you get some time away from the family too. Take turns going for long walks or a jog. Get those endorphins firing.
And get some space from the kids. It is so important that you get your own headspace. Make sure you organise this with your partner.
It might be as simple as downloading a yoga app and going into your room on your own and doing a class but we all need time to be away from the children. If you are a single parent, get them doing an activity like painting or drawing and go to your room and read or do online yoga.
There are so many things you can do to keep the house entertaining over the next couple of weeks. But the adolescent in your house has to rise to the challenge too.
These are challenging times. But you just have to think creatively how to keep your family ticking over while you all stay inside. We have a civil responsibility now to keep our children inside and safe.
We can do this and not become overwhelmed in each other’s presence by setting up a healthy system while we are living indoors.