Updated: May 3
I started this article with "Our local schools haven't yet closed their doors..." and then, they did! This situation keeps changing and does so quickly. One thing we know for sure is that, although the infection rate IS going up, the death rate has NOT (praise God!). However, that may be little consolation for those with a lot more children at home for longer than expected!
The goal of this article is to give FOUR simple but crucial suggestions to make the most of your unexpected time at home with your little (or big) ones!
#1 Stop, Breathe, and Pray (SBP)
Bottom line: You cannot give what you do not have! So, if you are feeling frustrated, worried, angry, or worn out, there is NO way you are going to have kind, compliant, peaceful, happy children! You see, in times of stress, our brains unconsciously move us into functioning in the lower centers where we have access to only a limited amount of skills (think: "fight, flight, or freeze"). However, when feeling safe, we can function in our upper brain centers, where we can think logically, thoughtfully, and be able to respond rather than react to difficult situations. The single most effective way to move from the lower to the upper centers of the brain is by using SBP! Since you can only give from what you have, you have to FIRST get a handle on this. If you want a deeper explanation, click here for a short video.
#2 Make a Daily Schedule
Something else we know about our magnificent brains is that they look for - and crave - repeating patterns in order to feel safe. Think of how God created our world with order: The way the earth orbits the sun; the phases of the moon, the life cycle of a plant, animal, or a human. In this same way, when we wake up about the same time each day, go about our activities in approximately the same order, and go to sleep about the same time, we are creating and fulfilling patterns for our brains. If your kids - and YOU - are suddenly finding yourselves at home for an extended period of time, try to adhere to a schedule as much as possible. Include your kids in the decision making and know it doesn't have to be strict - but it IS going to help everyone know what to expect from day to day.
Sample Daily Schedule:
8 - 9 am Wake up/Eat/Get ready for the day
9 - 11 am Outside Time: Together (walk, ride bikes, go to a park - please stay away from public places like museums since we're trying to reduce contact to stem the tide of this virus)
11 - 12 pm Cleaning/Organizing: Tackle a home project, go through closets/drawers/toys and donate!
12 - 1 pm Lunch and Connect (More on this in point #3)
1 - 4 pm Learning Time: Reading (to them or on their own), working on puzzles, legos, making play-doh, writing in journals or drawing pictures to illustrate stories. You could also use Khan Academy or other free online resources to keep educational skills from waning.
4 - 5 pm Dinner and Connect
5 - 6 pm Clean, Connect, and Prepare for tomorrow
6 - 8 pm Family Time
8 - 9 pm Bedtime
#3 Connect with your Kids
At Connect Point Moms, we always say that Connection Creates Cooperation because it is TRUE.
Think about a time when you and your spouse were really feeling connected; happy about and grateful for each other. Just imagine you are snuggling on the couch enjoying a movie, when you get up to go into the kitchen. If he asks you for a glass of water, what would you say? Perhaps you'd say: "Sure, Honey! Would you like ice in that...maybe some lemon?"
Now, imagine that you are not getting along so well: You're feeling hurt that he forgot to make dinner reservations again and he's feeling angry that you are making such a big deal about it. So, you are now sitting on separate couches watching a movie that neither of you even like. You get up to go to the kitchen. If he asks you for a glass of water, what would you say? "You got legs, get it yourself!" "Are your arms broken?" Or maybe you WOULD get it for him, but you wouldn't feel really happy about it, right?
It is the same with our children: When they feel connected with us, they WANT to cooperate with us!
So, when you are eating meals with your kids - especially during this pandemic - put your phone away, and look them in the eyes. Ask them silly questions like: "If you HAD to lose an arm or a leg, which would you choose and why?" "If you had a choice to always walk backwards or always walk on your hands, which would you choose?" Or "If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?" But here's the thing: YOU HAVE TO BE PRESENT (remember SBP?) in the moment to connect with them! Really listen to their answers and resist the temptation to correct them or teach them. When your mind wanders, just breathe and bring it back to where your body is in this moment. It may seem like a little thing, but it will make all the difference in your relationship.
#4 Trust in the Lover of your Soul
Ok, so there is a PANDEMIC happening in our world, that can be pretty scary. But are we forgetting Whose we are? Are we worrying so much about our loss of paycheck, what are we going to do with these kids for weeks, and running out of toilet paper, that we are missing the gift that Jesus has given us? That hasn't changed. His Word promises that He will never leave or forsake you, (Hebrews 13:5), that he loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), and to give Him all our anxiety because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Lord, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)!
#ConnectPointMoms helps you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you're in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them.