Your kids are home.
And now you have to motivate them to finish school, and stay sane during this unusual time. Ack.
We know by now this sickness is serious, and that quarantine is the fastest way to help lessen the duration of this disease if we follow the CDC guidelines to limit contact with others. However, you may be struggling with how to temper your teen who is begging to see friends, but can’t.
Here’s how to survive weeks at home with your kiddos during the Corona-crazy:
(Side note. Some of my suggestions below may sound a tad radical, but I’ve homeschooled four kids for over 16 years, and this is what works for me. Use the suggestions you like, and ignore the rest. That’s the beauty of being a parent. You decide. For reference, my kids ages are 11, 14, 16, and 20. the oldest lives away at college. Skip to point four if you just want fun ideas to do at home. 😉 )
- Create. A. Schedule.
I’ll copy what I’ve done for my kids at the end of this post if you’d like to see ours. We sometimes fudge on the items listed, but we try to check most of them off. Their teachers should give them tasks, so just have them plug their school work into their schedule.
As a parent, my goal is to make my kids employable one day. Following a list of tasks is key.
- Devices are a reward
Read that again.
We paid for the phone. The video game. The electricity. The AC. The monthly cell phone service fee. The chair/desk/house/etc., therefore, the device is ours and we kindly let them borrow it, because we are the nicest parents ever.
Devices are privileges, not a priority.
In our house, all phones go on top of our piano at the end of the night, typically 10:30/11, depending on their age. And use of the phone the next day depends on how amazing they were by completing the task on the schedule from the day before. We let some things slide if justifiable, but I’m a huge stickler for the kitchen being clean before everyone goes to bed. Mainly because I wake before everyone else, and that’s the first thing I see in the morning. If dirty dishes smatter my sink, I put all devices in a basket, and they have to earn them back by doing extra chores (wash the van, scrub the shower, clean the microwave, etc.)
This hurts the first time.
Like, I’ve seen more tears from this one act of taking a cellphone alone over anything else. But if your boss told you to turn in a report by 5pm and you repeatedly ignored this, you’d be fired. So, by taking the phone for 24 hours, this is a taste of losing income (reward), but for only one day.
That’s small beans.
Remember, I’m training them to be an incredible employee.
- Make the oldest, or wisest the manager. Then switch roles.
This is fun.
They get a taste of what you go through each day when you tell them to do something, then they get a reward for a job well done. For instance, if they manage properly, they get more device time, or they pick the family activity, or they get to order something small at the end of the week off of Amazon (If you’re allowing this). If they don’t manage well, you pass the job on to the child who did.
Each time an item is completed on your schedule, the “manager” checks it off so they can go on to the next task. Mom may have to be the manager for the first couple of days (depending on their age) to set the standard. But, then you (mom) as the owner of the company hand the responsibilities to the manager of your team (obviously, mom’s are always on and ready to help).
Here’s the catch.
If the employees don’t finish their tasks, everyone loses an hour of device time (or they didn’t earn any device time), or has to complete extra chores to use the device. And the manager gets demoted. You want to be the manager because you get more rewards.
- Family activity
If you managed, you pick one family activity for the night. If it was my son, he’d choose for us to watch Blue Bloods together on Hulu, or play Throw, Throw Burrito (I detest this game because I can’t think as fast as my kids can, and I often get pelted with a spongy burrito, ha!), or Bang!
I typically choose Settlers of Catan, Golf, 5 Crowns, or Spades.
My 20-year-old loves Unstable Unicorns
Basically, with the extra time we have tried to play one family game together each day. Keep in mind that if you have competitive kids, this may be a good tool for training them on how to lose graciously. My son is slightly more vocal than my girls, and when he didn’t win in the beginning, he would get worked up. If this happens, I’ve had him do 25 pushups, or run 3 laps around the house with our dog, or, on rare occasions, I’ve even pulled out his squirt gun and given him (or anyone else complaining) a tiny spritz to remind him to have more self-control. This mainly happens when we play Settlers of Catan. With the other games, he’s not as vocal. They’re kids. They are going to act like kids. It’s my job to soften the complaining when I can, and hope we are making fun memories. I will say they end up laughing in the end when we do this.
The bottom line is that my kids are old enough to play board games, and this is the most fun I have with them. OK. I also bribe them with dessert or their favorite chips when we play a game together. They know this is my number one favorite thing to do, so the sweets come out for mom’s favorite activity. 😉
If you have a board game you love, please share in comments below.
- Everyone makes one meal a week
We typically try to say everyone makes one meal a week, but since we are in lock-down mode because of my compromised immune system, I told them to pick two to three meals to make from a cookbook. I buy the ingredients; the other kids set the table and clean the dishes afterwards (the chef doesn’t clean. Nice).
Yes, I am trying to make the employable, but I’d also like to make them marriageable. 😉 I tell my son all the time how his future wife will love that he can make the most amazing scrambled eggs ever. Even his deviled eggs are to die for!
Here’s a Pinterest link to our favorite meals we’ve made in the past. Our top three family meals are: Shepard’s pie, Chicken pot pie (I shudder at other pot pies; I promise this one is different and is the most requested meal we make), and Flank steak. Consistently delicious.
Top Desserts: Cheesecake squares (most requested dessert), Paula Deans cake, Insane cheesecake, Minty Brownies, Oreo cake pops
Bread recipe below : )
- Free Online Adventures!
Many online tools have been offered for free to explore museums, or attend a virtual art class, or even college courses. Amazing!
- Fun in first
- Scholastic Day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.
- A loooong list of free online educational resources. Click here.
- For students K-3rd, they may enjoy learning how to draw Piggy with Mo. Click here for the YouTube video.
- This is a goldmine, folks. Encourage your 10th-12th graders to take one of the 450 Ivy League courses online right now for free.
- Go on a virtual fieldtrip to the zoo, and other fun virtual adventures.
- Search for McHarpor Manor of Facebook to watch art videos with your elementary kids.
- Virtual tour of The Louvre Paris
- Guggenheim museum in New York
- Crash Course in World History (These are meant for high school students and can sometimes be a bit PG13. If you can look past this, these are a great overview for those intrigued by history. He also has many other subjects he covers. Check him out.)
- Vangouh museum in Amsterdam
- Kids Art Workshops with Tinker Art Studio
- National Gallery of Art Washington, DC
- Play the stock market game. This takes more time, say 3 months to a year, but each family member is given the same amount of money (say $100,000) and they pick stocks they may be interested in. For example, I shop on Amazon, so maybe I’ll select this and Disney and tech stock. Then, for three to six months to 12 months (however long you decide), watch how your stocks perform. They may go up or down, but this is a fun game to teach your kids the value in investing, as well as how the market fluctuates. Click here to play.
- Go outside
Ride bikes, walk the dog, walk along a nature trail, swim at the beach (if allowable), climb a tree, play soccer/volleyball/Frisbee with the family, try something new.
This virus hates the heat. Summer will be here soon, and before you know it this will be behind us. Enjoy today with your family the best way you know how.
a. Make homemade hand sanitizer
b. Make bouquet from wild flowers
c. Make slime
d. Look up craft ideas online
9. Read a book
I know. I know. Not everyone reads, but hear me out. Just try to read one book together. At first your kids may roll their eyes, but maybe let them build with Legos while you read, or sketch, or play with a Rubik’s cube. My son is Kinesthetic, which means he listens better when he’s doing something with his hands. My 16-year-old is like me. She’s a visual learner, which means she needs to read the book with me to get the most out of it, so we each read a page to keep one another engaged.
Instantly borrow digital movies, music, eBooks and more, 24/7 with your library card on Hoopla. If you want book suggestions, ask me. ; )
If your child has finished homework, and they have played a family board game, and they are still twiddling their thumbs unsure of what to do, and you repeatedly hear them say, “I’m bored!” That’s when you smile and announce that “Boredom opens the door to creativity.”
Some of the best songs my daughter has ever written were when we took a phone break.
One of the most beautiful pictures my daughter ever drew was when devices were on pause.
And one of the best explorations my son went on was, you guessed it, when he no longer had access to his video game.
“Boredom might spark creativity because a restless mind hungers for stimulation,” WIRED magazine said in their 2017 article.
But my kids also know if they keep complaining aloud how bored they are, I hand them the toilet scrubber and say, “This will keep you entertained as you scrub the commode.” Or maybe you tell them to “Wash the van,” or “Wipe the windows,” you get the idea.
It’s amazing how fast they find something to do, and the boredom instantaneously disappears.
Lastly, be creative, moms.
Yes, this quarantine is crazy, and yes, I am ready to see friends and do something socially, but until then, let’s be inventive and learn how to function for this season until this sickness is behind us for good.
If you have any suggestions for kids to pass the time, please comment below so we can all see them.
In His hands,
PS Bread Recipe
This is the easiest kind of bread you can make. Costs pennies and can get you through these strange times, my family lived off these when the pickings were slim.
Navajo Flatbread, posted by: Brandon Johnson
2 cups flour
1 – 1 1/4 cup of lukewarm water
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tablespoon oil/butter/shortening
Mix dry ingredients together and add most water, mix and add water until it has the consistency of tacky pizza dough.
Knead for a few minutes.
Let rest in greased bowl for 30- 60 minutes.
Divide into 6 pieces and roll out on floured surface thin. (Tortilla thickness)
Heat griddle to 350F.
Cook until golden brown spots and flip, cooking until done.
They can be made ahead and kept under a flour towel or frozen for later use.
(Obviously, with all the chores and schoolwork below, I help when the kids need it. We are a team.)
Ansley (16) —my kind encourager!
8:30- am Get dressed, make bed, clean room _______
- rotate laundry
- no breakfast until above tasks are done : )
- brush teeth ____
- Read whatever day it is in Proverbs ____
9:00 Tell me what you learned in Proverbs
9:30 SAT _____
11:00 Science _____
- 30 minutes of phone time
12:30- Economics _____
1:30 – History ____
2:30- Pre-Calculus ____
- ROTATE laundry ______
- Fold, hang up and put away laundry with Sabal ____
3:00- Free time, board game
4:00- help make dinner ______
4:40- dinner _____
5:00 – Sports
9:00 – Everyone helps with dishes and the kitchen _____
10:30 – phone on the piano _____
10:30- Brush teeth, read one chapter in Steven Furtick’s book, catch up on school _____
Asher (14) —my kind, diligent, KIND worker!
8:30- Walk Dog, get dressed____, make bed, pick up floor, brush teeth, phone on piano ___
- All of the above is done before you eat
8:45 – Breakfast
- Teeth ___
- Read a chapter of Proverbs _____
9:00- Tell me what you learned
9:30 – Math Lesson: ______
10:15 – Economics: ____
11:15 – Handwriting: ______
11:30 – Lost Tools: ____
12:00 – Lunch, phone
12:30 – Science ___
1:30 – Debate ____
2:00 – Fold laundry/put away
2:30 – Rotate Laundry, put clothes away
3:00 – Free time/ phone
4:00- Read two chapters in book
6:00- Tidy kitchen ____
8:30 –Clean kitchen: empty Kitchen trashcan
10:30 – phone on piano, computer turned off
10:30 Brush teeth
Sabal (11) —my joyful worker! (We do many of these tasks together)
8:30- Get dressed/hair, make bed, feed Marley___
- pick up bedroom floor__ hang clothes___
- Clean kids’ bathroom sink/counter______, trash____, toilet_____, sweep___
8:45 – Breakfast
- Brush teeth
- Read whatever day it is in Proverbs
9:00 – Tell me what you learned
9:30- Math lesson _____
- Write paper
- living room and dining room ______
- Multiplication Page _____
- Handwriting ______
- Set the table for lunch ________
- Clean off table________ Pull table chairs out and SWEEP under table _______
- Ice cube treys _____
- M/th: Sweep floors _____ T: Wipe kitchen cabinets___
- TH: Wipe kitchen appliances____
- Shake out rugs (M/Th)________
- Wipe Clean dad’s bathroom: Mirror ____sink/counter______, trash____, toilet_____, sweep___
- Read science book______
- DWN____ ETC____ Mavis Beacon_____
2:30- put laundry away ____
9:00 everyone cleans the kitchen
10:30- Phone on the piano
10:30 – Brush teeth