Pandemic Parenting: Home Schooling, Safe Outings, and Managing Free Time

If you’re a parent reading this, it means you’ve survived almost two weeks of the Great American Self-Quarantine. You’ve played freezer Tetris (to ensure the ice cream fits in with all the frozen veggies), you’ve struggled to teach your kids a new way of doing math (that you’re completely clueless about), and now, you’re wondering how you will face the next six weeks of pandemic parenting.

The good news is, you’re not alone. Virtually every parent in America is facing the same issue right now—homeschooling, finding activities, projecting a positive mental attitude (even when you’re ready to lose it), and navigating which movies are worth paying $4 for even though you already fork over money for three streaming services as you start to mentally budget for the next few months.

And since we’re all in the same boat—hopefully not a cruise ship—we thought we’d give some ideas and insight for those at home with children for as long as this may last.

First off, let’s talk about your kids’ psyche. Since this reporter is no authority on the emotional side of child-rearing, let’s leave that bit to the experts. Above all, they say it’s important to stay calm.

“Children can’t process fear and anxiety properly if we are unglued,” says Julie Oldham, the school counselor at the Long Beach Island Consolidated School District at the New Jersey Shore.

“Turn the TV off, or at least the news when kids are around. Answer questions if they ask but don’t give the grim details. Remind them, ‘Yes, we are taking care of ourselves so we don’t get sick,’” Oldham continues. “If they’re not asking questions at all, use a ‘test’ question or statement like ‘What do you think about being home from school or do you have anything you want to talk about?’ It is possible that your child might not even know what is going on and is just enjoying being with you.”

It’s a novel idea. Might this self-quarantine be a generation of parents’ blessings in disguise? (Maybe if it weren’t for the homeschool part.) But either way we have to lessen the impact.

Oldham recommends keeping to a schedule. Sure, it can be looser than normal, but kids crave consistency. That’s something that parents who homeschool full-time can agree on.

Now, all you have to do is structure your days and keep busy. This is where we have some creative ideas for you.

If there’s one thing you have on your hands, it’s time. Take advantage of that time to do worthwhile activities. There isn’t a single project in the world that someone hasn’t made a YouTube video about from their kitchen or garage. Most materials can still be delivered to your house if you don’t want make unnecessary trips to the store.

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