I have been watching webinars and reading a lot about living as a quarantined family. There is an overwhelming amount of information about how to live well, happy, and sane with your kids and spouses during this time. As I have been reading, some patterns have emerged. Here are some of the things I have found that seem to be the most helpful:
- Get up and get ready for the day! The most impactful way I heard this stated was during The Quarantined Family webinar on the ParentzMatter facebook page on Monday night. “Pajama days are for special days, not for every day”. Everyone feels better, and it feels more like a typical day when everyone gets up, gets dressed and gets going.
- Make a schedule. Everyone seems to agree that life is easier if there is some sort of order to the day. It is good to have set times for things like school work, play, outdoor activities and chores.
- Set goals or to do lists for each day. What do you plan to accomplish each day? It could be as basic as “don’t lose it with my kids today”, or it could be something like: weed the garden, do laundry, bake with the kids, etc. Checking something off of a list makes it feel like something actually happened! You might consider making a weekly list: Monday-laundry & rooms, Tuesday-baking, etc…
- Don’t over schedule. While it is important to have a plan, over-planning usually just frustrates the one who made the plan. Let the whole family speak into the daily goals and plan. If you want everyone to embrace it, then everyone should speak into it.
- Schedule time for quiet. When you are setting your schedule be sure to set an actual time for quiet activities. I think that this is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Pick a time when everyone (to the best of their ability) is doing a quiet activity so that you can have five minutes peace! Coincidentally, I highly recommend the book “Five Minutes Peace” by Jill Murphy. You can watch it being read aloud here.
- Talk to your kids. Your kids are listening to every word you say, whether you think they are paying attention or not. Remember that they will take their cues on how to deal with the unknown and this circumstance from you. If you are frantic, worried, or anxious then they will be too. Signs of an anxious child include: restlessness, irritability, not sleeping, bed wetting, and acting out. It can be difficult to know how to differentiate these behaviors from the usual misbehavior of kids who have been cooped up too long, but it is important to keep an eye out for deviations from the usual “go to misbehavior” of your child. Philippians 4:6 & 7 says, “Do not be anxious for anything but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” God doesn’t promise us a lack of things to worry over, but he does say he will guard our hearts and our minds. It means that we can walk through difficult circumstances with his peace wrapped around us. Worry and anxious thoughts will not completely disappear because we are human. However, they will not overtake us and consume us if they can’t penetrate our hearts and minds because of the peace of Jesus in our lives.
- Live life together. Don’t just spend your time on different screens in different rooms, or with everyone doing their own thing. This is a valuable moment in the life of your family. It is time to bond, communicate and build new habits together. Do you wish that you all ate at the dinner table together? This is your moment. Do you want to spend more time playing games, engaging each other in a real way, learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby? This is the moment.
We get to choose how we will live out these next weeks. Let’s choose to thrive in this time. We will need to be intentional. We will need to persevere. We will need to figure out coping mechanisms for tough days. We will need to cling to Jesus.
Psalm 63:8 “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”