So. This is... a new experience. I hope everyone out there is staying sane, healthy, and able to maintain access to whatever fills your cup - whether it is moments alone (which are hard in a house packed with kids) or moments with others (that is hard when you are an extrovert and stranded alone in your house).
We survived the first week, and after initially getting over the disappointment of canceled parties, playdates, and school, my girls have been enjoying themselves - somewhat. One of them looked at us with a confused glance last night when we made a comment about how this was something we just had to get through. In her six year old eyes this is a pretty good gig (at the moment) and she doesn't see why being stuck at home with no schedule or responsibilities is a problem.
Of course, we have two full-time working parents, so suddenly trying to take four people's lives and force them into an on-line schedule with only two computers and one struggling internet has been a cognitive task that should get all of us into Mensa. We went into survival mode, and survival mode needed to encourage independence, allow for free play AND school work, and of course, together time when possible.
Knowing my kids' personalities and what they need to stay busy, we implemented two different systems to fill their days while we try to continue to handle our full time jobs.
The first is a to-do list with a total of ten items on it. Something to do with reading, something to do with writing, something to do with math, something to do with a content (science/social studies), then help mommy, help daddy, do something kind, play outside and practice the piano.
Every time they complete four tasks (or tickets) they can turn them in for screen time. At the moment it is educational screen time, but I'm sure eventually we'll move to anything. We are in survival mode. Let's be real.
This is working for us because one of my girls loves schedules, so with this she can plan her day and make out her schedule. She likes to choose what will go on the to-do list the night before, choosing what she will read, what sort of writing activity she will do, what math project she'll play. She gets a deep sense of satisfaction from this list.
My other child is more of a free spirit. She doesn't need the guidance from the list and often doesn't realize how much she's completed until we sit down and go over it with her.
Our other current COVID-19 hack is that each girl also has a bingo board. This is how we are surviving. The boxes include anything from "Left Mommy alone when she was working", to "put on a puppet show" "took a bath" "got mad at my sister but just walked away", "did two worksheets", and"got myself a snack"
Ever since we implemented these we haven't heard an "I'm bored". The girls enjoy choosing what to do, and realizing that if they are trying to decide between playing dollhouse or an art project they can game out the system and strategically do something to make sure they get a bingo. Bingo = two chocolate kisses. Yes, candy. It's working. Back off.
BINGO gives the right amount of structure mixed with choice, kind of like a menu. While I am happy to share what I've done with you, I created it quickly in google docs using a 5 x 5 table. It's not fancy, but it's keeping us sane!
What are your parenting hacks these days?