Updated: May 14, 2020
Here we all are, stuck in our homes with our kids under quarantine. It could be like this for weeks, or it could be like this all the way through summer, who knows. Today is the first day of Spring Break for us, and I have to say I'm not overly excited about it, because we can't go anywhere. Even the beaches and parks are closed in San Diego. Still I've decided we are going to make the most of it. We are going to cook, create and have a lot of free play time. After break it will be back to Mom School for us. That is what we have named what we did for the past two weeks over here, Mom School.
My kids were pretty excited on the first day of Mom School, and their excitement got me excited about it as well. As the first two weeks churned on we had some highs and lows. There were a few points when I lost all enthusiasm for Mom School, like when I realized there was no end to it. My daughter lost her enthusiasm when she realized her little brother was the class troublemaker. She cried because she just wanted to learn, and he cried because he just wanted to play. We were all frustrated. But by the end of the second week reality began to settle in and we accepted our new routine.
We have a couple of things going for us. For one my daughter has an amazing kindergarten teacher who has set up a great structure of daily projects and communication. And second I'm a stay at home mom. Working moms are in a much more challenging position right now. Working from home while juggling your kids will make anyone feel crazy. I feel for you and all I can say is do the best you can and don't beat yourself up for not being the best mom, teacher, and worker right now. You can't be all three.
None of us signed up for home schooling our kids, so let's all give ourselves a break. As my daughter's teacher reminded me they will spend the beginning of next year reviewing the end of this year.
If you have to work during this quarantine let your kids play, let them do ABC Mouse and read with them when you can. Have them help you make their lunch. Give them a swiffer mop or the vacuum and let them get to work on the floors. And then send them outside for a long recess, let them be bored. I repeat, let them be bored. Eventually they will decide to do something out of their boredom and it will be creative!
Whatever you decide to do during this time I recommend you talk to your kids about how it will be different from what they have been doing. Before starting Mom School I sat down with my daughter and talked about her typical day in kindergarten. If you have multiple kids I recommend you sit down with each one to find out what they have been learning in school. If you have preschoolers use this as an opportunity to focus on open ended creative activities, lots of free play and reading time. Older kids are more independent, so you may want to talk to them about what their teachers expect of them and give them the opportunity to come up with a structured plan for their own learning.
At our house we've settled in with Mom School. The most important part of Mom School to me is our "whiteboard." We use the area in our kitchen in front of a sliding glass door for learning. It is also where our daily message and the plan for our day is posted. In these uncertain times we all need structure. For me, it really helps to have everything written down.
If you have a large window or glass door in your house that your kids can sit in front of, you can use this as your "whiteboard." All you need are some whiteboard markers, and you can write directly on the glass. Black and red markers seem to work the best for me. If you can't see your whiteboard markers on the glass you could tape a large piece of white paper on the outside of the glass, or you could paint white tempera paint on the outside of the glass (tempera or poster paint will wash off later).
My daughters school starts every day with Run Club so we decided to continue this tradition. I used a piece of chalk to draw a small track on our driveway. Amazingly enough, my son who never wants to do run club at her school happily joined in and ran 17 laps on the first day. This has been awesome.
After Run Club we have been starting each day by going over the Daily Schedule. My daughter's kindergarten teacher shared her classroom schedule templates with us, so I've printed them and posted them to our whiteboard window. As we finish one activity I can ask my daughter to go back up to the board to see what the next activity is.
Next I have my daughter read a Daily Message which includes the day of the week and something about what we will be doing that day. Your Daily Message could say what you will be having for dinner, or even an inspirational quote.
If you are juggling working from home and teaching your kids, maybe you will only have time to do a Daily Message and some reading, that is okay! Don't get overwhelmed trying to do everything, remember Mom School can be whatever you want it to be!
For lunch consider putting out a platter of food for your kids and letting them make their own lunch. Spread everything out on a platter and put out a couple of butter knives so they can spread the PBJ themselves. It's easier for you and you are teaching them how to make food for themselves, one of the most valuable lessons of all.
Whereas before I used to spend 20 minutes in the evening making lunches, now I spend that same amount of time prepping the activities for the next day and writing everything down on the white board.
We miss our school, our teachers our friends and our family, but we are managing. I'm enjoying seeing all the people walk by our house. I love that kids everywhere are doing sidewalk chalk. I'm enjoying seeing so many people smile at me as I run by them in the mornings as people are now cherishing even the smallest social connections.
I love that with Mom School we were able to take off and drive up into the mountains for a snow day.
This quarantine is stretching the limits of all of our creativity. We are all being forced to find new ways of doing things, which is pretty much the definition of creativity! This is a great opportunity for our children to stretch their creativity as well.
If you are looking for creative activities to do with your kids at home check out some of my blog posts. Feel free to comment below and me know what Mom School looks like at your house!