From schools closing, to restaurants shutting their doors, to parents being asked to work from home, life as we know looks very different right now for families. There are so many unknowns about the future and what tomorrow will even look like. Many parents have been told to work from home indefinitely as well as manage homeschooling their kids…this is intense for anyone, but especially for the parents whose daily role has drastically changed!
If your family has been financially impacted by COVID-19, please check out my blog Forced to Make a Change on how to make your money go further when unplanned circumstances arise.
I have chosen to be a full-time stay at home mom for 4 years now and absolutely love it. I enjoy managing the home and raising my kids. Now that my oldest is almost 4 I have integrated homeschooling into our daily routine and thoroughly enjoy being the one to help educate and enlighten my daughter about the world around her.
Despite the unfortunate quarantine and social distancing, ultimately my day-to-day responsibilities haven't changed much in the current global pandemic. I am used to managing the home while multitasking and teaching my tiny kiddos, but I understand that not everyone chooses to stay at home or knows how to approach this type of work.
To help ease the not so easy times right now, I thought I would share my tips for staying tidy, some of my favorite cheap and kid-friendly meals, and part of our daily schedule.
First things first, have fun and respond to yourself and kids with grace. Your kids just want you to be happy and to love them well. Stay positive and thankful in these trying times and remember your children are not the problem, the world and the pandemic are the problem!
Do life together
Being at home with my kids is less about academics (at this point) and more about teaching life skills and doing life together. This means including them in emptying the dishwasher, folding and putting away laundry, cleaning the house, and organizing.
I have made these activities a daily thing we do together, and sometimes a game. And when we’re done, we “reward” ourselves with playtime outside or some kind of fun screen time activity.
Life at home doesn’t have to be a drag. You don’t have to choose to view housework as pointless, and un-filling duties, but rather as a gift. Consider it a blessing to be able to have clothes to wear, dishes to put away, and ultimately a roof over your head.
TIP: I do a load of laundry every day. I start a load at night right after we put the kids to bed, and before I go to sleep, I put it in the dryer. In the morning the kids and I fold it while we are watching morning cartoons. After everything has been folded, we put them away immediately! As the day goes on, I throw clothes or dishtowels we used from the day into the washer, and by the end of the day, I start my laundry cycle over again. This prevents that dreaded build-up of laundry and allows for your kids to take part in the duties around the house.
TIP: Tidy up throughout the day. This doesn’t mean follow behind your kid picking up every toy they play with. But this does mean, cleaning up the kitchen after every meal, and having your kiddos help pick up toys before quiet time/nap time so you don’t have to spend your “break” picking up.
TIP: Make your beds. This not only gives you a great start to the day but allows you to start your day on a positive, tidy note. Get the kids involved with this too!
Intentional time with your kids
I designate time in the morning (usually after breakfast)- to educational time. This can mean, lots of different things: working on school (kindergarten for Millie and ABC’s and colors for Moose (aka Amos). This time may involve going on an adventure scavenger hike, doing a science experiment, making homemade play-dough…whatever it is, the time in the morning with the kids is dedicated to educational activities.
TIP: Put your phone away. Engage in what your kids are playing with. Get on the floor and immerse yourself if their education/playtime. Obviously, this isn’t an all-day thing, but choosing to make time for them and giving them your undivided attention is the key.
GO OUTSIDE! I'm not sure about your kids, but whenever mine step outside, it's like they stepped into their natural habitat, and I love it. They love to play in the dirt, hunt for the perfect rocks, and just run around. Nature is the best therapy out there, so if you're getting grumpy and they're starting to whine, do yourself a favor and go play outside!
TIP: Don't try and reinvent the wheel: From Pinterest to educational websites to accounts on Instagram, there are so many great ideas for creating fun and educational things to do with your kids. There are so many talented people out there who are gifted with teaching and creativity, look for those resources to help guide you.
My absolute favorite account to follow for fun daily activities is @BusyToddler on Instagram. My favorite website for print offs and home school stuff is Relaxed Homeschooling and Teachers Pay Teachers. Some of these resources you do have to pay for, but I found them to be the most helpful and educational for us!
TIP: Use screen time for education! There are so many reasons why screen time is a blessing. If you need a break to catch your breath, need to get some work done, or are just looking for another form of entertainment, don't allow yourself to feel guilt if you choose to implement some screen time.
Obviously set a time limit, but there are so many Apps and shows that are fun and educational, so why not make screen time a chance to learn as well.
TIP: Give yourself permission to take a break. When you're starting to feel overwhelmed or like you're getting nowhere, go on a walk, take a day off from school, or take a nap, whatever it is, you must give yourself permission to replenish your energy.
Do Food at Home
TIP: Meal plan for the week and go once a week to the store. This will save you money in the long run and keep you from worrying about “what’s for dinner” at the end of day. Here are a few of my go-to, EASY, KID-FRIENDLY & VERY CHEAP dinner ideas. (For more dinner ideas head over to my other blog 5 Quick Easy and Kid Friendly Meals)
(As a one-income family we must stay on a strict budget, so please know that these meals really are cheap and extremely easy)
Nothing I do with my family is revolutionary or new to anyone. But what I think may be different is the mindset I choose to have. I don’t see my kids as taking up “my time” or causing me to put my dreams on hold. Rather I choose to view these kids as my dream, my purpose my calling.
It's not because of them that I am choosing to put my goals and aspirations on hold, it’s because of them that I am to being molded and transformed into a better more selfless version of myself. These babies are a gift and they won’t need me like they do right now, ever again.
If you have been forced into a new role because of COVID-19, I encourage you to not lose hope and respond to yourself and kids with grace. I encourage you to think of this as a chance to shift your mindset.
Embrace the trials of having to multitask.
Embrace the new routine and the additional time you get with your kids.
Embrace the change and allow your kids to teach you something about life right now. Kids are resilient and continue to be joyful, creative, and determined. Try to embrace some of that as you are stretched thin. Be present, be grateful, and lean into the role that you have right now.
Abby is an awesome Mom and an amazing team member of Baja Baby. She lives in Colorado with her husband Alex, her beautiful children Amelia Grace, Amos Lee and Maple the dog. You can find Abby on Instagram by clicking here.
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