So…anyone else self-isolating right now, cosying up with your spouse?
Something tells me there’s going to be a huge baby boom in about 9 months!
Want to hear something ironic? I originally had a post scheduled for today titled “Why We Should Celebrate Other People’s Weddings.” I moved it to May.
Keith and I have been on four planes and in four airports in the last 5 days, so we are hunkering down at home.
We were scheduled to speak at a marriage conference in Myrtle Beach last weekend, and we were going back and forth with the organizers, trying to decide whether or not to cancel. They decided to go ahead, because they had enough cancellations that they were now under 100 people, and at the time, the CDC was saying groups under 100 were okay.
It was honestly a wonderful weekend, with an amazing church group. And I don’t think there was a single cough or sneeze in the room the whole time. Nevertheless, I’m still hunkering down because asymptomatic people can still spread it, and I DO NOT want to spread this to anyone. Plus Keith checked with our local health department, and they are asking anyone who has been out of the country to self-isolate for 14 days. And that is what we are doing. (remember: the point is not just to make sure you don’t get it. The point is to make sure you don’t SPREAD it).
We were also scheduled to leave today for Trinidad, where we were to give some big sex talks to a congregation there. That did get cancelled, and we’re hoping we can go back in the fall.
Because we were scheduled to go away, though, Keith didn’t have any clinics booked in the next few weeks. So we’re both fine to be at home.
Of course, sitting at home and working is kind of like, well, every normal day of my life. So this isn’t that big a change!
I’ve received all kinds of emails from other groups I’m signed up with with plans to build your marriage while you’re stuck at home.
I considered writing some of those, too, but it just seemed excessive. There’s enough of that going around. So why don’t I just say this?
If you do want some great ways to connect with each other in the next few weeks, whether it’s visioning together for your family, identifying your emotional needs, reconnecting emotionally, feeling better about sex, choosing some new hobbies, and so much more, sign up for my email list! When you do, you get access to my library of freebies, and you can choose whatever you want and have fun!
And now can I give a bit of a pep talk to parents who are home with their kids?
I homeschooled my kids all the way through high school, so I was home with them A LOT. And the best way to make sure they don’t get whiny and bother you a ton is to spend a few hours everyday exclusively focused on them. When they have your attention, and they know that you’re enjoying it, they play much easier by themselves later in the day. When you’re just trying to keep them busy so they don’t bother you, they sense it and they often become even more demanding. But when you slow down and give them undivided attention, you fill up their tank and calm them down.
I was never one for sitting on the floor and actually playing with toys with my kids. But we could do all these educational things, and the kids found them fun. And I found that if I gave them my undivided attention in the morning, they often played so well together in the afternoon that I’d have time to work, too.
So if you’re trying to get work done, and now your kids are home, you’ll probably get more accomplished if you engage them wholeheartedly for a few hours a day, and then ask them to play by themselves so you can work, than if you try to get stuff done all day and they keep interrupting you.
Here’s how (and some affiliate links follow!):
1. Read great books to your kids
When we were homeschooling, my absolute favourite way of doing that was reading books. We read everything out loud–and often many times! I think over the course of the girls’ childhoods we read the Anne of Green Gables series twice. We did all the Beverly Cleary books twice, too. And Narnia? At least three times! And they were wonderful each time.
Little Women may be an appropriate one to read right now, with Beth’s illness (or perhaps that’s too scary–I don’t know!). But Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Wizard of Oz, Pippi Longstocking, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Redwall, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, The Sign of the Beaver, and more–so many wonderful children’s books.
I asked Joanna, who works with me and is a young mom looking for great Christian content and I asked her for a list of her favorite books for kids. Here’s Joanna,
There are some truly fabulous books and resources available for Christian kids today. Now that we’re in coronavirus social distancing mode, we will be spending lots more time home and reading. Here are some of my favorite Christian books you probably haven’t heard of, by level
- First Bible Basics: A Counting Primer
- Holy Week: An Emotions Primer
- Psalms of Praise: A Movement Primer
- Jesus is Alive!
- The Biggest Story ABC
- Laugh and Learn Bible for Little Ones
- Found: Psalm 23
- Jesus and the Very Big Surprise
- God’s Very Good Idea
- The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross
- How much is a Little Girl Worth?
- Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids
The other thing that worked well was reading educational books and then having them do projects, whether it was drawing pictures or doing crafts or writing stories or making up a play that has to do with that time period.
2. Do some crafts with kids
If your kids are at least 6 or 7, it’s a great time to teach them how to knit or crochet, too, and that can help them keep busy. My grandmother learned to knit when she was 7, under quarantine with diphtheria (which eventually took her sister from her). And I still have so many items of clothing that my grandmother knit! Here are my girls a few years ago wearing some dresses she knit in the 60s:
And young boys often enjoy knitting as well. If they find that difficult, one of these knitting looms from Amazon are a great substitute, and they can make a hat or an infinity scarf.
3. Play Family Board Games
And then, of course, kids also love puzzles and family board games! I’ve got a list of our favourite 20 that work at various ages (and then, of course, I also have our favourite board games for couples, too). With an Amazon Prime membership, you can get them shipped for free in two days.
I also asked Joanna about kids and family board games, since there are SO many new great games. Here are a few of her suggestions,
We are truly blessed that we live in an era where there are AMAZING companies producing high quality educational games for small children. Gone are the days of Candyland reigning supreme. (Hooray!) HABA games is my go-to recommendation for games for little kids and their “my first” series is appropriate for children starting at age 2. I got my daughter My First Orchard for her second birthday and I was really impressed with how large the different fruits and pieces that are included in the game. It’s simple enough for her to understand and it’s been great practice in following directions, basic rules, and colors.
HABA also has a variety of games for families or older children. Honga is a new game that sounds totally adorable and really fun – plus it teaches risk/reward in a really creative way (it involves a “pet” sabor tooth tiger).
For older kids, My Little Scythe is a new game that’s an adorable way to learn some really tricky concepts – drafting, selecting actions, managing where you are on tracks, and so on. The game is adorable, well thought out, and will teach kids LOTS of important skills. I’m especially impressed that it comes with a variety of miniatures that kids will love spending an afternoon painting.
4. Take museum tours.
Lots of museums, zoos, aquariums offer free online tours. A list of some amazing options is available here
5. Enjoy a night (in) at the opera
The MET opera in New York is offering free streaming of their performances from their website.
6. Check out free educational resources online
A number of educational companies are offering curriculum for free. A handy list is here.
7. Teach your kids life skills
Whether you’re an avid gardener, are good with cars, sew like a fiend, or are the best home chef around, you’ve got skills that you could teach your kids. Home economics and life skills aren’t included in formal curricula for schools anymore, but getting kids acquainted with how to run a household from an early age is so important. Hey, you can even get older kids to help you with your taxes!
8. Use screen time as family time
Joanna wrote about this last week, Minno is a great streaming resource with LOTS of amazing Christian content – including 30 classic Veggie Tales episodes. They have a free one week trial for TLHV readers – just use this link! Joanna and I went for a walk last week and her daughter was singing a song about all the Judges in the Bible. She’s only 2! I’ve been really impressed with her Bible knowledge, which she got from watching shows available on Minno. Here are two of Joanna’s favorites:
I’ve started making a 3 episode DVD of The Slugs and Bugs Show a default gift to families with kids. I love this show. It’s paced well for little ones, the lessons are really thoughtful and nuanced, and it’s genuinely funny even for grownups. Plus, every episode is packed full of Biblical insight and Bible verses set to music. In the midst of this pandemic, hearing my toddler sing, “trust in the Lord with all your heart…” has been a comfort to me in a way nothing else has been. If you’re a mom with little kids, I cannot recommend the Slugs and Bugs Show enough. Wonderfully, Slugs and Bugs has made one episode of the show (appropriately about fear and trusting the Lord) free on their website.
The What’s in the Bible series covers the Bible from cover to cover. (Ok. I feel bad about that joke. Forgive me?) It’s incredible thoughtful, delves into hard issues, teaches the good news about Jesus AND it’s funny. It’s a win all around. I genuinely can’t recommend this enough – it is family viewing at its finest.
9. Watch free documentaries
With sports cancelled until further notice, maybe your sports nut would enjoy Ken Burn’s classic Baseball documentary, which is streaming free at pbs.org. Additionally, a link to a variety of free documentaries is available here. (As a note, be sure to do due diligence with documentaries since they aren’t fact checked or subject to expert opinion in the same way that, say, scientific articles are.
10. Sorting bears make math more fun!
Sorting animals are a great investment (ok, they’re $15 on amazon. But still.) They grow with your kids! Little ones can use them to practice sorting by color but older kids can use bears to investigate math problems, create patterns, and play with numbers as their imaginations take them.
11. Use The Bible Project to increase your kids’ Biblical Literacy
One really great use of this slower season is to delve deeper into your walk with the Lord. The Bible Project makes high quality, animated youtube videos on TONS of different biblical topics. They’re a wonderful resource, especially for older elementary children and up. If you’d like to make scripture reading more of a mainstay in your children’s lives, they have email subscriptions available that will send you what text to read and a video to watch beforehand to prepare you for the reading. I’m so impressed with their ministry.
12. Try learning geography with Setera
Preparing your kiddos for a winning run on Jeopardy? They’ll need to learn lots of geography before they head to Final. Use the many map quizzes available to learn all kinds of important geography facts.
13. Use free lesson plans from NASA
14. Learn Human Anatomy with Inner Body
15. Learn search tools and use brain teasers by using Google a Day
This is a great problem solving tool – have your kids figure out the answer to a riddle using a search engine and the power of their brains. I’d make this a family activity to be sure things don’t go awry, but it’s a really fun getting going activity for you all!
So there you go–lots of things to keep you and your kids busy if you’re stuck at home.
And then maybe we won’t think of it as a punishment to be home, but instead as an opportunity to explore and have some fun without a huge list of things we have to do, like normal. And, again, if you do need to work, spending some uninterrupted time with your kids earlier in the day helps soothe and calm them so they’ll give you more time later!
Let me know–are you self-isolating? Is school cancelled for your kids? Are you working from home? How are you coping? Let’s talk in the comments!