Staying home, staying safe, staying sane
Stuck inside, soooo bored…
How are you doing staying home so far? For a lot of parents this is a new experience.
Schools are closed. Playgrounds are closed. Play dates are canceled. What to do?
We work from home everyday and normally have one child at home with us who goes to school online. (His schedule hasn’t changed much but he is distracted by his siblings.) The other two have been on an extended spring break. (I’m so looking forward to their remote learning to start next week but a little nervous too.) So far it’s been kind of like summer break but with a lot fewer options for adventures outside the home.
So even for us there have been additional challenges to navigate. Can’t just send the little one with the older ones to the park.
Our oldest son is usually at gymnastics practice about 20+ hours a week so actually having family dinners every night might be our most noticeable difference. And it’s been lovely!
We have some home safety reminders for parents now spending more time at home with their children.
“Supervision is the number one way to prevent injury. Unfortunately, during this outbreak, it is expected to see an increase in preventable injuries among children. We need to be doing all we can to supervise,” says Jessica LaCroix, Safety Store Coordinator at Blank Children’s Hospital in Iowa.
Safe Kids Worldwide shares this reminder for parents of smaller kids. Remember to store cleaning products and medicines, including all those extra supplements, out of reach of children. And pack up those little game and puzzle pieces that could be a choking hazard for preschool children.
Many parts of the country are welcoming spring weather (it’s snowing here today). One way many of us will welcome spring is by opening our windows to let in the warm, fresh air. This is healthy for us too. The shocking fact is that the air inside your home is generally between two and five times more polluted than the air outside, says the Environmental Protection Agency. But when opening those windows on upper floors, remember window falls do happen and having a screen will not keep a child in. (The flimsy screen is only meant for keeping bugs out.) Again supervision is the key or consider window safety devices for those windows.
Getting outside for sunshine (aka Vitamin D) and exercise is also a good idea. I’m suddenly loving our trampoline even more. Just going outside to do some jumping jacks or running around the yard can be great.
In many places you are allowed to get outdoors a little bit further from home. CNN reports hiking is an acceptable outdoor activity; following the six-foot rule and avoiding public facilities is paramount. Many national parks are closed but other trails are open. If you can find a trail that’s not too crowded nearby, family hikes can be fun and good for your health. When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds.
When taking to the streets on two wheels, remember have your kids wear a bike helmet. Be a good example and wear one yourself as well. It’s all “monkey see, monkey do” right? For your safety, make sure the helmet is low on your forehead (not up at your hairline), the chinstrap is tight enough that you can only fit one or two fingers between it and your chin and both sides of the straps form a V under your ears.
Getting outside is a great way to stay sane. But you probably won’t be spending all day outside and spring time still comes with rain (and snow). There is plenty of inside time with your children.
There’s plethora of online offerings from teachers reading books to coding workshops. Offline there are science experiments and family games and indoor exercises. Here’s just a sampling of ideas to get you started:
- For a quickie, headstands are a great activity for your core muscles and to get blood going to the brain. Kids are often naturals.
- Obstacle courses will take more time to create but super fun for kids. Create a furniture course in your apartment or take chalk and make a course outside. Add in specific mental or physical challenges to keep them guessing.
- If you can stand the mess, you can make slime or oobleck. You may have a mess to clean up, but the kids could be entertained for hours. Even my teens get into the fun of oobleck.
- Get explosive. Mix baking soda, vinegar, and glitter for a sparkly volcano.
- Rainbow Loom. Is that still a thing? (We have some no longer used bands and looms if you are interested.) For around $10, this toy can entertain kids for hours. Learn new patterns by watching instructional videos on YouTube (with headphones of course!).
- Card games either solo or between kids. Solitaire can entertain your child for a while. Our kids learned speed and enjoy playing that. It’s a challenge to beat my daughter, she’s fast.
- Of course there are the historically wonderful activities called drawing and reading (if your child is old enough).
- Or teach your child age appropriate cooking skills.
Mommypoppins has a list of 100+ activities and resources to help your children stay busy.
In addition to staying busy to stay sane, you want to keep a positive attitude. Your thoughts are what you have the most control over, not what’s happening outside your door.
One of the best pieces of advice I learned as a teen was “boredom is what you make of it.” You mean I could choose to not be bored? Yes. And you could choose not to be in fear and worry. I know that can be a tall order as a parent. But it’s helpful for you and your child if you can remain calm. Some ideas for you:
- turn off the news and
- take what you read on social media with a grain of salt; much of that “information” is not entirely accurate
- take some time to meditate
- jot down a few things you are grateful for every day
This can be a confusing time for kids who may not understand what is going on. We suggest you do talk to your child in an age appropriate way, focusing on what you are doing to stay safe and healthy. If you remain calm and positive, it will greatly help your children feel OK.
You can invite them to meditate with you or share what they are thankful for during your family dinner. Keep your child’s routine at home as much as you can and find ways to enjoy this time. As a parent of two teens and an 8-year-old, I know how fast childhood flies by. This could be a blessing in disguise for your parenting, if you choose to look at it that way.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
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