Can we just start with the fact that I bought a ukulele today? Not your average $20 kids’ toy ukulele…this was an over $100 REAL ukulele. I don’t play the ukulele. These are weird times, guys.
As soon as I heard school was canceled and we were going to be pretty much homebound with the need for social distancing, I immediately started thinking we would all learn a new musical instrument, we would also learn Spanish, we would cook as a family every day, we would all learn how to sew, we’d organize all of our cabinets, we’d get in really good physical shape, and do all sorts of interesting engineering and art and creative writing and science projects from Pinterest that we never have time to do.
Hmmmm…that sounds awesome and all, but how does one do that and also work from home and keep up with household responsibilities and maintain SOME social contact with other adults (even if it’s over the phone) and complete all the other random things in life that need to be done? Hmmmm…full-time video gaming for my kids looking like a MUCH better option. Hmmmm…but my kids become horrible terrible monsters after too much screen time. Hmmmm…cooped up with horrible terrible monsters for weeks on end…hmmmm…also not a good option.
Homebound: Our Kids’ Daily Routine While Social Distancing
My brain is spinning, my purchases have been extremely erratic (note: Ukuleles), my mood and outlook on life even MORE erratic, and my kids and I have realized fairly quickly…what we NEED is structure. My 11-year-old son walked down the stairs clutching a piece of construction paper with lines and boxes and writing in magic marker. “I think we need a schedule, mom.” Yes, Yes, YES! This IS my son! I too LOVE a good schedule. Oooooh! Make it a routine, put little check boxes next to each task that you can move over a little magnet to show when completed…that’s even better. A routine it is.
We sat at the dining room table and brainstormed all sorts of ideas, then sorted those ideas into categories. Our first routine involved set time periods for art and music and building things and cooking, but then we decided that was a little too specific, too much pressure, and it would work better to have broad categories that give us more flexibility.
I’ll admit, the routine we’re going to try is nothing special. Nothing super-creative. Nothing at ALL Pinterest-worthy. Our routine IS fairly doable, though, which is MUCH more important for our family. AND, it still creates enough structure to keep us all a bit grounded. Flexibility will definitely be key. I’ve already “slipped up” and let my kids sleep until 9:30 on Day 1. During Family Activity Time Day 1, they told me they wanted to continue practicing parkour stunts with just each other (not me). I tried not to take it personally and put away my computer and phone and made myself totally available anyway. We’ll adjust as we go along and even throw the schedule out the window if it ends up not working at all. It’s a start, though. And a start feels good.
**I’m totally laughing b/c our fabulous TME graphic designer, Jeni, took what the kids and I did, and made it actually Pinterest-worthy below. Ha! Scroll down, though, to see my magic marker and construction paper masterpieces…they also work just fine.
UPDATE: Jeni also created a printable version of the chart below if that’s easier! Click here for colorful OR here for black & white. AND she made a generic master schedule in colorful and black and white to print out as well. On the master schedule you can write in your own timing (b/c mine is needing to adjust later and later each day) and even cut out the boxes and rearrange with your trusty glue stick. Ooooh…another project for the kids! Important reminder, though, handwritten works JUST as well.
Home School Schedule & Staying Sane While Flattening The Curve
OUR NEW WEEKDAY ROUTINE
The kids and I have been totally geeking out brainstorming ideas for all of these categories. I took down the school calendars and school notes from our clipboard system and replaced them with our brainstorming lists that we can add to daily as we come up with new ideas. If you want to join me…don’t type it out, don’t worry about spelling, don’t worry about handwriting, just get started and encourage the whole family to add ideas as we go along. Here’s what we have so far.
*Important Disclaimer: There is no need to BUY any of this stuff. Just have the kids make lists of all the toys and games and materials you already have in the house. I went ahead and put Amazon links in for the specific things we are personally using to stay sane here (in case you WANT to buy something new and that’s the best option for you), but if you’re shopping for new things, I also encourage you to buy from your local stores when you can during this time. Some will mail items to you or allow for curbside pick-up. Our local favorite toy store has several options of getting amazing toys and games to you here.
Big kid will do his assigned school work, little kid will do his assigned schoolwork or something educational (in a boring, typical, let-mom-get-some-other-stuff-done way) including iPad apps, educational computer programs, reading, etc., Many of the sites below were recommended by our school and our kids were given free memberships/access codes. Maybe I’ll get more creative with this at some point, but for now, basic easy stuff it is.
After Day 1, I immediately switched this category header name to INDEPENDENT Play. Gah! This time in our household is going to be KID-DRIVEN, so mom can finish getting the stuff done she started but then got distracted from after having to help with too many spelling questions during morning work. Favorites in our house already are make stuff from tape and cardboard, play Exploding Kittens (with sibling), build things from the bazillion magnetic block toys we own.
Comic Book Making
Make A D&D Character
Build A Castle
Build A Roller Coaster
Make A Marble Run
Make A Fridge Marble Run
Design A Car
Make Something With A Glue Gun
Paint By Stickers
Make Up A Song
Play Bey Blades
Make Something With Tape
Make Something With Glue
Make Something With Toothpicks
Make Up A Dance Routine
Dance Like Crazy On The Couch
Create A Recipe
Write A Story
Write A Song
Make An Obstacle Course
Swing In the Hammock
Build A Fort
Design A Board Game
Design A Card Game
Make Stuff With The Recycling
Design With Squigz On Window
Play Drums with Household Stuff
Create A Scavenger Hunt
Create A Treasure Hunt
Create W/ Brainflakes
Remote Control Car Course
Make Greeting Cards
Write Thank You Notes
Play Games On The Patio
Make Something With Yarn
Water Marble Play
Magic The Gathering
Plus Plus Creations
Plan to let kids alternate being in charge of lunch—AND cleaning up. This should be interesting. We have the time though, so let’s teach some life skills here.
This is the time I WILL pay total attention to my kids, turn off my news alerts, put away my laptop, and stop my anxiety-provoked organizing. When the kids complain earlier in the day that I’m not playing with them, I’ll remind them that I’m ALL theirs during our afternoon Family Activity time. Hikes in Fairmount Park, family obstacle courses down our hallways, potion creations in the kitchen, and I’m sure lots and lots and lots of card games. Hopefully, we’ll be motivated to use all those fancy Pinterest kid activities lists for some of this…or more likely, we’ll just hang out together and play with toys.
Chores & Chill
I am actually really excited about this one. The main reason I don’t make my kids do more chores during regular weekdays is TIME…it’s often faster and easier for me just to finish things up. Not now! Time is something we DO have. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, organizing, dinner prep — we’re doing a chore or two each day. And when we’re done we all get to chill.
Organize A Cabinets
Organize A Toy Bin
Organize A Drawer
Organize Junk Drawer
Organize Laundry Shelf
Are we REALLY not supposed to do take out??? I sent my husband to the grocery store in a panic a couple nights ago, and he came home with toilet paper and canned peas. Have we EVER eaten canned peas in this household? Ever?? Come on, Babe. We’re going to have to regroup on this one. Emily, do you have any recipes using canned peas?
I will admit, many nights this is going to involve the kids going upstairs to play video games, and the hubs and I enjoying some wine downstairs. I will repeat…MANY nights. Other nights I’m excited to destroy my kids in board games, throw some wild family dance parties, FaceTime hangouts with friends and family, and of course, rock out with my new Ukulele in the family band we’re obviously starting. World Cafe Live if you’re reading, you should probably book us now for fall.
We’ll use these brainstorming lists to fill in our schedule. My friends joke that as an introvert, a lover of routine, a purchaser of fabulous toys, and a TOTAL homebody, I’m pretty much built for social distancing. I’m definitely using a lot of the things I’ve already used on long airplane trips and long road trips. We’ll see how this goes.
I would absolutely love to hear how you guys are structuring or not structuring your days at home with your kids, plus any ideas we can add to our brainstorming clipboards. I am especially stuck with how to get these city kids outside. PLEASE help on this one! Feel free to join our Facebook group The Mom Edit Insiders for more chatter about all things “what we’re doing while we’re at home”. And let us know what else you guys want to see from us right now.
Let’s Give Some Home Organization Love To The Etsy Sellers
If you’re looking for some TOTALLY Pinterest-Worthy Schedule Organizing items and downloads, let’s give our Etsy independent sellers some LOVE right now!
I make a point of reminding myself several times a day that I’m SO VERY fortunate to be able to be at home right now spending this time with my children. Thank you to all of you out there who are NOT able to stay home during this time, but are doing the work to help keep us safe both physically and emotionally.
Definitely still working on an appropriate sign off…till then…