Updated: Jul 25
Create a sense of stability and sanity with these simple strategies that will anchor your family in times of uncertainty.
Just six days ago my husband and I ate together at a French restaurant to celebrate our 19th anniversary.
The dinner conversation was our summer plans for a family trip to Europe.
The very next day WHO announced that COVID-19 is a global pandemic. The day after that, travel from Europe was halted, schools in our state were closed, and our church announced that meetings worldwide are canceled.
Yesterday, Guatemala closed it's borders to Americans, putting on hold our Guatemala Humanitarian trip planned for May.
My husband is supposed to fly to Mexico the first week of April (to climb a big mountain). And my teens had plans to fly to Texas to visit friends later that same month.
We have no idea what to plan on anymore. I'm sure your family feels the same.
Not to mention that there's no more socializing because of 'social distancing'.
But besides the complaints about 'no friends' and 'no travel plans', life for us goes on pretty much as usual.
You see, we practically live in a state of (self-imposed) 'quarantine'.
We work from home. We homeschool/worldschool. We have our groceries delivered from Walmart. We have everything else delivered from Amazon.
Except for having traveled to 37+ countries on five continents 😉 we kind of live in our own bubble. We joke about how it's 'sooooo far' to drive to Costco (25 minutes).
24/7 we spend together. Three meals a day we eat together.
It's not all sunshine and unicorns. But we enjoy spending so much time together and manage to get along most of the time.
So how do we do it?
Here are some of our insider secrets:
But there are a few things that can help things go right to create peace and prevent problems.
Set a schedule/routine -- When you have no idea what to expect in your community or the world day-by-day, it's so grounding to know what to expect in daily family life. You don't have to stick to it rigidly, but it's powerful to have a framework for the day. (See below for an example of our routines).
Limit screen time -- this is especially true for younger kids. This isn't our personal opinion, although we've seen its affects on our own children. Too much screen time leads to meltdowns. According to the brain science looking at screens reduces blood flow to the brain.
Older kids should have a specific purpose for being on screens -- Devices and the internet are 'tools' for creation, not 'toys' for consumption or entertainment (except when pre-decided -- i.e. Friday movie night... but not simply out of boredom or lack of imagination).
All family members should help out with all the jobs as much as possible. Older teens should take over certain household responsibilities -- It's not just the adults' responsibility. This is how 'adult skills' are learned and how children are prepared to launch into adulthood. I have no done the laundry or cleaned a bathroom for two years.
Here's the general schedule we follow:
MORNING ROUTINES -- Greg and I wake early to do our own personal morning routines -- (these are KEY to centering yourself and maintaining a sense of sanity and stability). Each child wakes up according to their age and how much sleep they need. (This could be a great time to catch up on sleep -- many of us are chronically sleep-deprived). Then they do their personal morning routine -- hygiene, dressing, room/bed, reading/prayer, morning job.
BREAKFAST & 'DEVOTIONAL'/MORNING MEETING -- we take turns preparing breakfast (each child has a 'day' of the week). The devotional is like a meeting to review the day's plan/activities, chores, etc. We also discuss things (current events, etc.) and maybe recite poems or scriptures or share something we've learned or heard.
KITCHEN CLEAN-UP -- we clean up the kitchen together after every meal, otherwise, it gets out of control. Everyone helps at their level.
STUDY TIME -- If you've never homeschooled before but find yourself with kids at home because school is closed, you can keep this simple. Just dedicate a certain time of the day to 'doing school/studies'. This could simply mean that certain activities are NOT ALLOWED during this time -- video games, socializing (virtually, of course), etc. It could mean they do virtual studies, attend online classes, do online grammar, writing, math, and maybe science or social studies. They could read books, practice handwriting, do personal projects and interests like drawing, guitar, violin, coloring, baking, video editing, photography, pyrography, etc.
LUNCH & KITCHEN CLEAN-UP -- this breaks up study time and is a chance to learn how to cook, follow a recipe and prepare for adulthood!
CHORES -- Another chance to learn 'adult skills'. Each child has a chart with jobs -- bathrooms, vacuuming, babysitting, laundry, garbage, etc. Everything that needs to be done is assigned to someone -- usually NOT mom or dad, since we work from home and are busy earning the money. :)
FREE TIME -- This may be outside time, drawing time, Legos, audiobooks, games, etc.
DINNER TIME & KITCHEN CLEAN UP -- Another chance to practice and improve 'adult skills'. We take turns preparing dinner and we all help clean up. My 17, 16, 14, and 13-year-olds can all prepare meals for the family.
READING OR FAMILY TIME -- we read books or scripture together, sing and play the guitar, jump on the trampoline, play games... then get ready for bed.
DEVICES OFF -- I turn the internet off at my house around 8 pm. Downtime keeps devices from being used for non-internet purposes. This encourages other interests and prepares our brains for bed (since the science shows no screens two hours before bedtime helps everyone sleep better.)
BEDTIME -- Hubby and I try to be in bed by 9 or 10 pm. The younger kids go to bed before this, and the teens go to bed on their own about this time or later. Turning off the internet and devices prevents me from worrying about what they're doing and how late they will stay up if they're up later than me. 😉