Three Steps to Still Like Your Kids after the Covid-19 Quarantine!
By Chris Wyatt
We have all lived it so far in this first month. One kid working their way through Canvas assignments unsure of what to do next, another kid asking you what this word is in their sight word list, and then the youngest kid running around the house naked, all while you’re trying to get ready for a video conference call!
The level of parenting, teaching, and working this COVID-19 pandemic in my household is nothing I have ever been trained for. In my ten years of being a teacher, and previous ten year stint as a strength and conditioning coach, I have been to 500+ hours of training in dealing with youth and their development. Nothing has prepared me for this!
Before this quarantine, and after it is over, I will teach around 140 students a day. Wait! Let me top that, I will teach 140 JUNIOR HIGH students each day! This special age group has many quirks, attitudes, beliefs, and social behaviors that can make you cringe. I’ve been trained in various methods of classroom management, I’m a member of the campus Positive Behavior Interventions and Support committee, but if you walk in my house tomorrow between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm I may tag you in, just like you’re a Pro Wrestler, and run out of the front door because of the three students I have now.
The COVID-19 quarantine has likely turned your house upside down as well. I’m writing this article to give you some hope and insight on things that have been successful for us thus far.
Remember Psalm 103:8, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Now I believe that we are all compassionate to our children, we love them, we feed them, they have plenty of clothes, they have a place to sleep, and we help them up when they fall or get hurt. We are compassionate because we are their parents. Being around them every day, all day your compassion may be running out, used up, running on empty, or simply just GONE! Remember that compassion works between you and your children, but also between you and the Lord. He is compassionate to us each day we wake up. We deserve less grace than the Lord gives us each day.
When you find yourself running out of compassion toward the small people in your house, remember Psalm 103:8 and walk away, send them to another room for a few minutes, give them a brain break, let them go play outside or in their room. Try not to lose your cool with them. Just as his mercies are new each day, each day starts with a clean slate for each kid. Do not take what one did on Monday into Tuesday morning or even what they did from the AM to the PM.
Set a schedule each day. Your kids have been on a schedule since August of 2019, you have been on a set schedule for work. Do not let that schedule go just because you are in quarantine. Set a schedule for them waking up each day, a schedule for going to bed each night, family time each day, and their school time each day.
Now, be ready for the first schedule you make to completely blow up in your face! I started with one my wife pulled off Facebook, I found that I couldn’t spend enough time with each kid helping them with their schoolwork and the youngest, 4 years old, had to have a lot more movement in his plan. He could not sit there and work on a paper, puzzle, or listen to more than one book before I had to switch what he was doing.
Therefore, I developed a schedule where everyone was rotating every 30 minutes, so they were not too burned out on what they were working on. It kept screen time to a minimum and allowed me to work with two kids at a time. That schedule made me stress more when we got off schedule. Some assignments took longer than others did and if a kid had to get this assignment done, they couldn’t move onto their next activity. Now there’s no printed schedule and no mandate on time intervals between activities. Our daily schedule is the following:
6:00 am - Parents wake up, get dressed and have a quiet time.
7:00 am - Kids wake up, get dressed, brush teeth.
7:30 am - Family walk or bike ride around the neighborhood. After we have done our mile, we work out as a family. I used to be a strength and conditioning coach, so this part is the easiest for me to design. However, yours may be something as simple as pulling a cardio video off YouTube.
9:00 am - Breakfast time. We utilize the school district’s free lunch and breakfast pick up each day. It allows me to make sure they have the right portions and that they are still getting a fruit and vegetable at least twice a day.
After breakfast, each day can be different from the day before. For instance, today as I am writing this my two boys are playing and watching Roar Time from Lionheart Children’s Academy while my daughter is getting her schoolwork completed. After lunch today, my kindergartener will complete his work pm Seesaw while my daughter gets to play or be creative. The four-year-old, well we are just trying to keep him dressed and engaged in learning letters, numbers and being creative. All this is put into the day whenever we can get it in.
6:00 pm - Dinnertime with everyone around the table.
6:30 - 8:30 pm – We finish their day with anything we didn’t get to, play outside, ride bikes, work in the garage, play video games, watch a movie, take the dog for a walk, whatever it is we’re doing it together. In addition, bath time!
8:30 pm - Kid bedtime, except on Saturday and Sunday they get to stay up later. I believe a set bedtime is important so you and your spouse can also have some time to connect each day.
Now I am not saying this is the FINAL schedule, this is what works for us. Yours will look different but make sure you have some key components each day. Each day may look different and that’s okay, trust me this is coming from someone who says, “If it’s not on the calendar it’s not happening!”
Step three in still liking your kids after quarantine is sometimes, or most of the time, okay ALL of the time is the hardest one. BE THANKFUL! Yes, THANKFUL!
On my desk is a picture frame given to my wife and I by her parents many years ago. One of the verses is Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Through all that is going on in the world right now, be thankful that your loved ones are with you. Be thankful that through this time you are not dropping your kids off at daycare or school, that you get to spend very valuable time with them.
YOU get to shape them in the way that God has shaped us.
YOU get to pour into them each day, not a teacher or a daycare worker, but the person they look up to most in this world, YOU. YOU get to show that four-year-old that the uncontrollable crying is not the best way to express your displeasure of your brother playing with your favorite car. But that taking him upstairs, reading a book, and letting him just spend some one on one time with you solves his problem. This was my Tuesday!
Be thankful that YOU are able to show your 9-year-old daughter how more mature adults did math back in the old days. Be thankful that YOU get to show your 6-year-old son how to work hard at something during your family PE time.
I hope this has encouraged you in your daily interactions with the kids in your household. Remember, you can’t send your own kids to an alternative school so having a plan or plans, depending on how many you have to scrap, will hopefully keep you sane.
Always remember the kids in your house also deserve your compassion and forgiveness each day because the Lord gives us his compassion and forgiveness each day we rise out of bed. Be thankful for the time the Lord has given us to slow down our busy lives and spend it together as a family.