As I imagined Spring Break in my mind’s eye this year, I knew we wouldn’t have toes in the sand or airplanes in our future. But I did imagine long Chick-fil-A lunches with friends, sunny park play dates, maybe a backyard picnic or a Smoky Mountains hike.
Instead of this idyllic stay-cation plan, I’m now staring down the barrel of nine days of social distancing during a panic and buy toilet paper spree due to this whole global pandemic thing. In case you haven’t heard, we should avoid being in groups of 100 plus to try and flatten the curve of spreading illness.
So how can we keep our sanity while keeping ourselves safe?
I think we have to take this health threat seriously without panicking. Should we buy all of the toilet paper? No. Should we try and condense our grocery buying into fewer visits to the store? Absolutely. Here are our top tips for maintaining sanity during this time.
Sanity Saver Tip #1: Routine
Usually around school holidays, I ’90s-mom it and let my kids go a little bit feral without loads of structure. We still have our bedtime routine and basic rules, but I let the kids play inside or outside as they please and try to get work done when they’re otherwise engaged. Since we aren’t entirely sure if COVID-19 will close schools following spring break, I’m reigning them in a little. I plan on having a bit of structure, with part of the day belonging to free play and the other part being devoted to a family activity. When we do each part during the day will depend, as I work from home and have deadlines to meet, but this bit of structure should help the kids feel secure.
Sanity Tip #2 Grace and Space
During anxiety-inducing times, it’s important to give ourselves grace and space. Does your living room not look like a Target ad? Congratulations, you’re human! But really, we may have to relax our standards just a bit. Let the little things go, and pick your battles. If your kids are at each other’s throats, may I recommend this wonderful post from a fellow contributor to tackle that battle?
Don’t underestimate the value of space. When my kids are cooped up together too long, they get tired of each other and grumpy (which is a normal and human thing; they can love each other and still need a break from each other). Maybe set up an activity for one kid in one room and plop the other one down doing something different somewhere else in the house. Don’t be afraid to give yourself space, too. My favorite mom trick to help them get along is to tell them they can’t play together. Reverse psychology can come in quite handy.
Sanity Saver Tip #3: But how can I get any work done?!
As someone who works from home, I get the struggle. How can I get anything done between requests for snacks and helping wipe bottoms and setting up entertainment and getting down games and answering obscure questions?
This goes back to the routine tip above. While the kids are engaged in an independent activity, whether it’s playing a board game together or being completely engrossed in Frozen II, use that time to get things done. And if you’re on a deadline and they’re on episode 6 in a row of Paw Patrol? Give yourself some grace. They may get more screen time on deadline day and more mom time on the following day. I love Jen Hatmaker’s words for the mom guilt situation: aim for 80% success, 20% mama tried.
Sanity Saver Tip #4: What to do?!
Right, so the forecast for the next week is mostly cloudy with at least a 20% chance of rain daily. So what can we do? Building a fort, watching a movie, playing hide and seek, and board games are some of our favorite rainy day homebody activities. Doing crafts, kitchen activities, and exercising are additional options. And let’s remember that as long as it’s just rain (and not thunder/lightning), a little rain won’t hurt. We can still jump in puddles and play and run amok outside, even in the rain.
There have been a lot of great crafting ideas shared right here at Knoxville Moms. Check these out for inspiration: Clean Crafts for OCD Moms, St. Patrick’s Day Crafts, Activities, and Recipes, Crafts to Make You Feel Like a Kid Again, Summer Crafting: How to Make a Pretty Lantern, How We Survive Rainy Days.
If you have a budding chef in your home, letting them help with food preparation and cooking will bolster their self-confidence and either provide together time or give you a break. Check out these recipes and tips for cooking with kids: Hot Chicken Club Roll-Ups Recipe, Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Soup Recipe, Low Carb Cheeseburger Salad with Big Mac Dressing, Weeknight Bolognese, 20 Minute Taco Salad, More than S’mores: Campfire Recipes, Baking the Semi-Homemade Way, Cooking with Kiddos, Tips for Cooking with Your Kids.
If my kids don’t get enough movement, they drive me bananas. I love this post about spending time outside for that, but if it’s storming and we can’t do that, exercising with your kids is its own humorous adventure (or at least it is with my littles!). Whether it’s yoga from a YouTube tutorial, a pushup challenge, running laps around the house, a relay, or jumping jacks, getting a bit of movement in can burn off that excess energy and benefit everyone.
Sanity Saver Tip #5: Learning
If school is cancelled or if you just want to keep the learning structure up through spring break, there are many options. Quite a bit of learning services are offering their products for free due to school closures, so take advantage of that! This list has been going around: Education Companies Offering Free Educational Services
Tech for Tots: Top Three Apps showcases fun apps for toddlers, and my kids love Khan Academy Kids. This might be a fun time to discover what your kids want to learn more about and focus on it. Since my kiddos are interested in learning a foreign language, we can begin that process at home this week.
Whether your kids are reading independently or you’re still firmly in the reading aloud phase, reading together is a great family activity that is fun and educational. The Knox County Public Library offers many online resources, from digital ebooks to shows and films. An app called Kanopy allows you to stream library accessibly titles to your TV or smart device. You can learn more about their digital resources here. This extended period of time together is a great opportunity to share beloved chapter books from your childhood as a group. If you participate in the library’s Read Around the World program and track your reading with the Beanstack app, you and your kids can earn fun prizes too!
Sanity Saver Tip #6: When You Need Something
Okay, it’s happened. You’ve been holing up in your house, a total homebody, for days. But now…you’re out of milk/insert imperative grocery/household item here. Do you want to drag your germ attractors (ahem, I meant kids) into a store previously ransacked by panickers? Of course not. So how can we get what we need while still trying to maintain this whole social distancing thing? Curbside pickup, Amazon Prime, Target Drive-Up, Kroger Clicklist — take your pick of these options that allow you to stay in your car or deliver to your home.
And if you’re going stir crazy? Invite a friend over or go to a friend’s house. We aren’t on lockdown! Just make sure everyone in both homes is healthy before mingling.