Working together to help children learn and grow in a complex world
Apr. 2, 2020
Hang in there: Tips for being at home with being at home
By Anna Taylor, Lower School Counselor
As we near the end of our third week of social distancing, your family may be getting the hang of staying at home -- or you may be getting on each others' nerves. Read on for some tips to keep in mind as we navigate these uncharted waters together.
1. Create a rhythm to your day. A down-to-the-minute schedule isn’t very realistic for most families, but you can create a daily routine that your children and you can depend on. For young children especially, routines provide stability and safety during these uncertain times. There are many things out of our control right now, but we can create a comforting routine at home.
2. Give each other space. This is a good time to establish boundaries. Create personalized “work zones” where kids and adults can work quietly. Make sure that everyone gets some alone time each day. It’s helpful to have quiet work time for independent work (for both the adults and kids), with scheduled interactive work time later to complete assignments that children can’t finish by themselves.
3. Live in the present moment. Technology is distracting. It’s easy to try to multi-task on several different things when we’re working from home. As much as possible, set small, realistic work goals and set aside time each day to fully engage in accomplishing tasks. Then, take time to really engage with your family. Trying to do both leads to stress and frustration.
4. Limit your exposure to news. Being informed is important, but hearing the same news stories and speculation repeatedly isn’t healthy for us and it’s definitely not healthy for our kids. Check in with yourself. If it makes you feel stressed, don’t keep it as part of your news feed.
1. Fantasize about how perfect this time with your family “should” be. When we fantasize, we focus on unrealistic outcomes. Let’s release the expectation of perfection.
Setting an expectation for yourself that you’re going to create constant family memories or that you’re going to do elaborate STEM projects will make everyone crazy. Our family time is playing a board game or watching an episode of a show that the kids want to watch. I’m not on my phone, we’re together, and it’s not all day. That reduces some of the kids’ neediness at other times of the day, as well as some of the parental guilt.
2. Expect people to change. Don’t expect yourself or your kids to behave differently now than under normal circumstances. Your child is your child. You are you. Your intense child is not going to suddenly be super-chill and go with the flow. Your introverted child is not going to suddenly appreciate all the together time with their siblings. In actuality, personality traits may be exacerbated in times of stress.
3. Cover up your needs. Practice open communication and problem solving. When you get upset, calm yourself down before trying to address the issue. When you don’t have to spend so much time together, you can let things go when you’re annoyed because you’re going to have time apart. But when you’re all together all the time, it’s important to be open and honest with your communication. Letting grievances build isn’t going to be very healthy in the long term, and it looks like we will be home for a while. Try to come at issues as a problem solver; ask your spouse or child, “How can we work on this? Let me be a part of the solution.”
4. Try to do too much. Let’s be real. I have a fantasy of the mother I want to be, but I’m not going to be this super-fantastic home educator, doing all these projects and extending our home learning. And I know I don’t have the patience or energy to play Minecraft with my daughter, even though she’d love for me to do that. But let me find something that we can do together. Today we are doing the Canterbury CARES challenge, and we put out the tablecloth and fine china and practiced our manners in a silly way. And that was enough.
This is a time we’re going to remember for the rest of our lives. Let’s give ourselves grace to accomplish less and appreciate others more.
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