Beautiful Family Time During Quarantine

What to do with kids during quarantine:

1. Have a flexible routine. 2. Work on keeping a positive mindset. 3. Allow them to enjoy free play time. 4. Keep up on school work. 5. Give them chores or have them help de-clutter and reorganize the house. 6. Plan activities with them such as cooking, crafts, contests, caring for a plant or pet, plays/fashion shows, journaling, or games. 7. Be present with them as much as you can.

Hello my beautiful readers!

I’m writing this at 7:02 pm in the room my husband built while home on quarantine. Well, to be fair it was halfway done before quarantine started. It’s a been a beautiful day. A day that makes you forget all the fear and panic that has captivated the human race due to the Covid 19 virus. While many, like us, struggle with not having the convenience of toilet paper, others are planning funerals for their loved ones. I’d like to send my condolences out to all who have had the worst possible outcome through this pandemic. I pray that all is soon well and that you’re blessed 100 times over for all you’ve gone through.

Since the pandemic started, as a stay at home, homeschooling mom my life has changed only a bit. With everything going on outside it almost feels out of place to say that my heart feels more full than it has in a long time- full of gratitude. My husband is home, as are all my kids (2 of them attend public school). We spend the days together playing games, doing chores, watching movies, eating, and talking. It’s almost like we do what humanity was meant to do. Instead of one or both of us spending the day away from the rest of us, my husband and I are for the first time raising our kids together every day. No one is too tired to play with the kids. The house is cleaner than it’s ever been with 8 little hands always ready to help (well for the most part). My husband has been working on various home improvement projects, and with the exception of being somewhat stressed about money coming in, he’s been quite happy to be home. I know many people are not in the same position. I pray that the pandemic will come to an end soon, but just for now, I want to be grateful.

Being present. Photo credit: My 9 year old.

Today I wanted to share a little about what we do day to day during the quarantine and how we’re using this time to connect and be present with our kids.

I’m going to give you a run down of our stay at home schedule. Mind you, we stay pretty flexible. The moment I try to stay in complete control of everything is always the exact moment everything goes downhill.

Kids Schedule:

*Wake up

*About one hour of free time. This is also when they are expected to brush their teeth and get ready for the day, even if we are just staying home.

*Breakfast.

*Chores.

*School work. I only have my kids work on school work for about 1.5 hours 4 times a week. You’d be surprised how much they can get done when they are focused.

*Help dad with projects and free play if there’s time.

*Lunch

Snack time is relaxing time.

*Play outside or inside. My husband and I use this time to pick up necessities like groceries. The older ones can babysit now so this gives us alone time and a break from the house. Sometimes we take the kids with us.

*Dinner

*After playing all day it’s time to relax. The kids are allowed to watch movies or play on phones etc.

“We can’t play outside all the time mom!”

*Bed time.

It’s not always exact. Sometimes the kids will forget to get ready in the morning or they sneak their phones in the middle of the day. I correct them but don’t stress about it.

What I do:

*I wake up earlier than everyone on most days. I brush my teeth and immediately start on personal development. I write in my Morning Manifesto Journal, then I take video courses. I’m taking 3 right now. One on blogging, one that’s focused on femininity and finding your voice, and one on relationships. I will also read a couple chapters from one of my books. Current books I’m reading are The Awakened Family, A course in Miracles Made Easy, The Happiness Trap, and Mindful Eating. I just choose whatever feels right for me in that moment. I will also go over my planners if I have a chance. I use the Mother Woman Planner. My personal development usually takes me anywhere from 1 to 2 hours if the baby doesn’t wake up. If he does I breastfeed him as I read or I catch up on Youtube videos, preferably ones that actually teach me something.

*Once my husband gets up we start cleaning. On days I sleep in, he cleans the house before I get up so I just have to do dishes and start on breakfast. The kids usually help with the baby as I get things on the table. If the baby is super clingy that day, babe will do everything which is awesome. Having my husband home has made a world of difference in the ease in which I can handle the day to day routine. I love it. As you know if you’ve been reading the blog, we have had to work on being on the same page and thankfully we let off a lot of steam in the months and weeks leading up to the pandemic. Coincidence or is someone upstairs looking out for us..? (Be nosy and read about our marriage conflicts and how we dealt here https://womanwithbabies.com/2020/02/21/why-every-day-is-not-valentines-day-and-why-thats-ok/ and here https://womanwithbabies.com/2020/03/16/the-portland-save-cation-and-asking-my-husband-if-he-wants-a-divorce/ )

*After breakfast the kids do a few chores as I get their lessons ready, then it’s time for homeschool. My 12 year old does work on his own, my stepson helps my preschooler, and I do one on one work with my 9 year old. Once my stepson gets his work from school, I’ll work with my preschooler and 9 year old simultaneously. I like homeschooling and the structure it gives us.

*After homeschool we help my husband with whatever home improvement project he’s working on. Today’s project was cleaning the yard. With a fixer upper we have more than your every day clutter so it’s a big job. Afterwards, the kids played basketball and I took the baby in for a nap.

*While the baby takes his afternoon nap, I have some free time. This is one of my favorite parts of the day because it’s pretty relaxed. I usually cook, shower, and if I have time I’ll work on finishing up cleaning, planning lessons, budgeting, or catch up on youtube, reading, or personal development.

*We all sit down to lunch together. We generally eat a big lunch late in the day. This is the time that we get to really talk with the kids and make plans with them. We always ask them questions like, “If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?” and things like that. Having 5 kids at the table can be a bit chaotic but overall it’s nice to have them all connecting with us.

*After lunch we all go outside as a family and play games. My husband and I usually take a walk with the baby, and the kids will ride their bikes. We live in a rural area where all the houses are at least a couple acres apart and rarely see out neighbors out walking so we pretty much have the block to ourselves.

*Around 6pm the baby gets tired and I put him down for his nap. This is when I can write.

*Once the baby wakes up we have some snacks or a light dinner and watch some movies. I usually put the baby to bed around 10:00pm and fall asleep myself. The kids put themselves to bed (though I have to leave them with the instructions of brush your teeth, no phones in the room, and lights out at 10:30!).

So there you have it, our life during quarantine. I’ve enjoyed having this extra family time so much. That being said, please don’t assume I’m not taking the pandemic seriously. I’ve been doing my part to keep us healthy as well. I make us green smoothies daily, try to have vegetables at every meal, as well as stay on top of our vitamin intake, and practice social distancing. And lastly, I try to keep the kids and myself healthy through mindset. I believe that much of what happens to our bodies physically has to do with our mental and emotional well being. For this reason I feel that mindset is the absolute, most important, part of keeping my kids healthy.

How We Focus On Mindset:

I encourage the kids to express their feelings about what is going on. I try to just listen and not tell them how to feel. I’m not perfect at it, but at least if I don’t have the answers I always have a hug ready. We usually do this at meal times. During school work time I have the kids write a journal. This is where the work comes in. I started giving them a word of the day. We’ve focused on words that, in my opinion, represent strength during this time. Here are the list of words. Courage, Survival, Resilience, Proactive, Meditation, Abundance, Scarcity. They write the definition and we do some explanation so they really get the point I’m trying to make. For example with scarcity, I tried to focus on the lessons that scarcity could teach us, in the end I asked them to tell me what they learned from what I said. My stepson answered that scarcity teaches us the value of things. Then they write a few sentences about or using the words. For example for courage I asked them to write about someone they knew who had courage. Then I had them write “I had courage when_________”. One of the answers was “When I got stitches” another said “When I learned to ride my bike”. I try to encourage anything they write. Tonight we are going to watch “A Little Princess” and tomorrow I will ask them to write about how/if the main character exhibited the characteristics of the words of the day.

I also have the kids write down a daily intention and monthly goal. I’ve told them that in this case the intention is how they want to feel when they go to sleep at the end of the day- happy, relaxed, productive, etc. As for the goals, the boys had goals like getting stronger, and my daughter wanted to get better at art. I asked them to have a strategy to reach this goal. This one hasn’t gone as well as planned. We are so busy playing and doing chores all day that we rarely have time to work on their goals. But I’m putting this in here because it’s an idea if nothing else, and I still want to give this a chance.

One of the main ways I keep the mindset positive in our home is by NOT watching the news, and definitely NO fear mongering. I’ve had to stop a couple people from raving to my kids about this “deadly disease” and “people dying in the street”. We focus on actual facts that will help my kids, like that the schools are closing to protect us, and that washing your hands and staying in quarantine lowers your possibility of getting the virus. If we do get the virus (if we haven’t already) we will go to the hospital and they will treat us the best they can and we will get better. That’s it. In our situation I believe the risk of anything getting serious (such as one of us gets hospitalized for an extended period of time) is low. If it wasn’t, we would have a talk about what would happen should things get serious, but I don’t believe it is necessary to fill the kids heads with “what if”, it just stresses them out. When the world outside is chaotic, and even when it isn’t, the home should always be a place the kids can feel safe and relaxed.

This one refuses to be left out of the activities. Here he is learning to make pancakes from scratch.
The boys helping their dad make his favorite dish- ceviche.

Tips for people who can’t step outside:

Ok so some of you are thinking, that’s great for you but I don’t have a yard and I’m cramped in my apartment. What do I do? I’ve been there. When my 12 year old was younger his asthma kept us inside for months at a time in our old apartment since cold weather triggered his attacks. Here are my inside activities:

Cooking! Kids love to help cook. It helps them feel like they have a say in what they eat. Stirring things and running back and forth for ingredients can help them burn off excess energy. Reading recipes and measuring helps with mental stimulation. We do a ton of baking around here.

Decluttering or Reorganizing. Admittedly this isn’t a favorite of the kids. BUT this is a great way to burn off energy. You can motivate them with a prize for a couple hours work.

Contests. We had a weight lifting contest using 3-10lb weights for the kids depending on age. You can do cooking contests, fort building contests, whatever you can think of.

Plays and fashion shows. This is a great way for the kids to get creative and show off. The kids always have a blast and I get to sit back and relax while they put on a performance.

Have the kids do a large part of the chores. My husband decided each kid would be in charge of making sure one room in the house gets cleaned which works well for us. It’s not always perfect but I’ve been living by the motto “done is better than perfect” lately. Pinterest has great chore charts by age.

Have something living to take care of. A dog or cat may be too much. I used to have a pet mouse. My kids once had a pet praying mantis. If having something living with you is too much, get a bird feeder. Kids love seeing hummingbirds outside their windows and they can be in charge of putting food in it each morning. Another option is a plant. Watering them and talking to the plants gives purpose and fights loneliness. You can help them learn about plant care through reading or youtube videos. We just recently got an indoor lemon tree, aloe vera, and a cactus. Many plants don’t need to be outside and thrive indoors! You can even use seeds from your own food so you don’t need to spend extra money if you don’t have it.

Play ball. This might be a tough one if you have a lot of windows or pictures hanging, but if you’re stuck inside I would seriously consider organizing one part of the house for playing catch or whatever sport your kids like. Nothing fancy. Our kids play monkey in the middle in our laundry room with one of those bouncy balls from Walmart. They will literally play for hours. Just give them a few safety guidelines and they’re good to go.

If all else fails going for a walk while practicing social distancing is perfectly acceptable. We took our kids to the beach in Tacoma and, while there were quite a few people out walking their dogs, we found a nice secluded place to hang out near the water and looked for crabs. We even saw some sea stars. Then we picked up some take out and headed home. If this isn’t for you, how about a nice drive through the mountains to look at scenery? When we had long drives in the past I used to pretend I saw the kids favorite cartoon characters hanging out in the trees and tell them to find them. This kept the kids interested in the scenery.

Thanks so much for hanging out with me for these few minutes and coming into my little world. If nothing else, I hope this post gave a few ideas for being present during this sensitive time. Some may not be in a place where this is feasible and that’s ok. We are all exactly where we are supposed to be on the learning curve of life.

With much love and encouragement, LC xoxo

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