Have you been struggling under the weight of parenting this summer? If so, you are not alone. I’ve always been very determined to “parent like a pro,” and I’ll bet you are too! Working remotely, parenting, and schooling our kids from home is a tall order. Let me be the first to say: You’ve got this! But how do you respond to your children’s questions and fears?
Challenges can and will arrive in any and every parenting situation and family arrangement. COVID is just another challenge to navigate. One thing that will assist your child is understanding that this is a new virus, and science needs time to sort out a vaccine. Reassure your child that this work is being done by competent adults, behind the scenes. Our mayors and governors are paying attention and we all play a part in keeping safe and healthy.
Empower your children with information and self-governance at an age-appropriate level. It is clear that “Back to School” this year may well be quite different. Let your children know — in advance — that school may be a little different this year, and that’s OK.
I was privileged recently to insider-knowledge regarding Battle Creek’s Fall model: 50 percent of the students in school (Monday-Tuesday), and the remaining 50 percent in school (Thursday-Friday.) Wednesday will be Facilities Cleaning Day. While our family is connected with the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and our schedule may well be different, it is helpful to keep this in mind. We are in the midst of uncertain times.
Steer the Ship Calmly and Positively
As parents, our number one job is perhaps to Captain the Ship calmly. Easier said than done, right? But children, clever little humans that they are, pick up on our stress, and so we want to minimize that impact. As Captain, what are the executive goals you have for your Ship? Most likely the goals are:
- Arriving at the destination safely.
- Keeping everyone healthy. Review how to stay safe, provide masks, wipes, and disinfectant, and teach about social distancing in an age-appropriate way.
- Ensuring a pleasant ride, and keeping the focus on events within our control.
Similarly, during the pandemic, we can keep our focus on “big picture goals.” COVID-19 is a new illness. Keeping your discussion about the virus at an age-appropriate level is important. Reassure your children that doctors, nurses, and other first responders are doing critical work as helpers. Keep the focus off COVID, but address questions as children present them. What can we do to get our children on board with new routines and planning for a successful school year?
- Make your child’s interests a priority.
- If you are unclear about what your child is passionate about, now is a wonderful time to find out!
- Play “Would you Rather?” with young and primary grade children. For example, you could ask, “would you rather learn about Pirates or Geodes?” or “Would you rather swim in a lake, or fish from the dock?”
- As home educators consider the many ways children learn. By doing, moving, creating, imagining, playing, and solving practical problems, children employ multiple intelligences and gain important hands-on experience. Multiple Intelligences is a term related to Professor Howard Gardner’s ground-breaking 1983 book Frames of Mind. Learn more at the official MI site.
- Traditional school work has benefits, but perhaps 8th grade algebra isn’t your bag. No worries! Try to find hands-on extensions of the algebra curriculum.
- Cooking is a great way to explore maths and sciences and get some hands-on fine motor practice. Your kids are more capable than you probably think!
Delegate according to age and skill level
Three to seven years olds can pretty much prepare a salad. They can wash their own hands, wash and pat dry the lettuce, tear it into smaller pieces, arrange pre-cut veggies on the salad, (or in some cases, start learning knife skills!) squeeze lemon juice into a small bowl of olive oil for dressing, or even fetch and shake a premade dressing to get it good and mixed up.
When your child is next to you in the kitchen, they are learning all sorts of things! And that is time you don’t have to worry about entertaining them, because they are engaged in helping you as a sous chef.
Making Grandma’s tamale recipe or Uncle Bernie’s BBQ sauce creates hands-on learning, a history lesson, and perhaps most importantly during this time, a connection to family, tradition, and stability. After all, we want that ship sailing into safe harbors, right? Sliding into a sloop filled with your family’s traditions and customs create a direct line to emotional security. Food culture is enriched with intergenerational family knowledge.
Take an Inventory of Family Routines
After resolving to steer calmly and positively, and prioritizing your child’s interests, update your family routines. These can be physical, mental, or spiritual. Look ahead now: what routines are working for your family? What needs tweaking?
Providing calm, comfort, and fun are anecdotes to COVID stressors.
- Get Outside! Daily walks, yoga or outdoor playtime check off a lot of health boxes.
- Limiting screen time is always worth considering. American Academy of Pediatric medicine recommends two hours per day. If you are rolling your eyes, and thinking, “yeah right!” -you are not alone. But for the sake of your children’s health, this is worth discussion.
- Spiritual routines can be impactful. Simple gratitude goes a long way. Even saying grace, or taking a silent pause before enjoying a meal together.
- Celebrate the little things. The family that plays together, stays together! Rituals and Celebrations assure children that you are a team, united with love and strength.
Enjoy the rest of summer with your family! Prepare for fall in stages! Remember, you got this!
More on Screen Time: https://slate.com/technology/2016/10/the-american-academy-of-pediatrics-new-screen-time-guidelines.html
Time Management Resources:
More on Time Management: http://planningwithkids.com/wp-content/2009/03/500-10-Time-Management-Tips-For-Parents-v1.2.jpg.jpg
Stress Relief. Consider nature or positive music videos. For example,
“Under the Same Sky” by Guitarist Peppino D’Agostino: