Establishing Rhythms with Kids During Times of Crisis
It’s been a crazy few days. Schools are shut down, stores are out of everything, and I have read more memes on toilet paper than any one human should. Our world feels chaotic and unsettled. There is so much unknown and so much out of our control.
The next weeks are going to look very different with kids off school and many working from home. Here are some tips to get through the chaos, while protecting childhood.
Turn Off the News
I believe our kids pick up on our energy and our emotions more than we may realize. If we are feeling stress and anxiety, they know. When they hear the news on in the background and it’s filled with panic, they know. Worrying is apart of adulthood and apart of parenthood, but it doesn’t have to define it. In his book Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne talks about the importance of filtering out the adult world for our children. When we have the news constantly on, our kids are taken out of childhood and put into adulthood without the understanding and ability to process it. It is impacting them more than we may realize.
During this unknown time, consider keeping the news and media off around your children. If you need to have conversations with your spouse or friends about the situation, try and have those conversations in private. Per Kim John Payne, “Children need to know that they have a place in a good world, and a future of promise.” When we speak in a “doomsday” tone and in a way that creates fear and anxiety in our children, we are not giving them that promise.
Find a Rhythm
Kids and adults alike thrive on rhythm. A new rhythm can be found in this season, even if it looks different than the usual one. It may take a week or so to find what works best for your family, but work to find one. If there is not rhythm, everyone will suffer. I find rhythms work best when they aren’t a strict hour by hour schedule, but based around the things we value the most. Our rhythms are a combinations of time together, independent play and personal responsibility. I talk about our rhythm in my most recent podcast episode, so take a listen if you are interested in some ideas.
Start your day together
You may need to work from home and the thought of trying to get stuff done with your kids around is overwhelming. I have found that when my kids get my full attention first thing in the morning, they are more likely to play better on their own after. We start our day together over breakfast. We read some books, eat together, talk about our plans for the day. During this time, they get my undivided attention. I am also able to set expectation for our day here. I usually explain what I am working on, what they can do and when we will come back together to do something with one another, like a game or reading aloud.
Time Together, Time Apart
When I structure our days, we go between time together and time apart. We start our day together, then I usually encourage them to go and play with the promise of coming back together again. This encourages them to play well independently knowing that they have something to look forward to in a little while. I am able to focus and get my stuff done and they are able to play, which is the work of childhood. When we come back together in a couple hours, sometimes I have art supplies out for them, or we play a game, or we read a book. We alternate between them getting my undivided attention and them playing on their own.
Vitamin D will not only help strengthen your immune system, it will help brighten everyone’s moods. Make it a priority every day to get outside. It may feel overwhelming to think about being stuck home every day, but most people are able to still get outside. Go on a nature walk looking for signs of spring. Make up a quick scavenger hunt for things you can find in your backyard. Color with sidewalk chalk. Or put a big blanket out in your yard and read aloud while the birds chirp in the background.
Join Them in Childhood
Read a book, play a game, paint a picture. During this time of panic, rather than having them join you too soon in adulthood, join them in childhood. Use this extra time to spend quality time together. Start a great read aloud chapter book and read a few chapters in the evening with popcorn and candles. Play a game with no phones or distractions around you. Pull out any musical instrument you can semi play and sing songs together. You may find that you are able to leave the panic behind and relive childhood instead.
Listen to the BONUS podcast episode
Join my friend Danielle and I on the podcast as we discuss life while being quarantined with our kids. We talk about establishing new rhythms, transition to educating at home and what good can come from so much down time. Subscribe to The Intentional Childhood on your favorite podcast player. And if you haven’t listened to the series on PLAY yet, do so today. It may encourage you during this season where you are home more and your kids are “bored”.