I’ve had the opportunity to talk to lots of people over the last few weeks and I’m hearing a common theme: people are feeling stretched and stressed. It’s hard to know how to manage getting work done, helping kids access supplementary learning, cooking, cleaning, and, in the midst of all of that, wondering what the outcome of this pandemic will be. It’s a lot. I know a number of you aren’t thrilled about how much time your kids are spending in front of a screen while you’re busy with other responsibilities. I think it’s important that we go easy on ourselves and recognize that we can only do what we can do. The good news is you don’t have to choose between connection with your kids and getting things done. There are many ways to maintain connections with kids while we’re apart. Here are some ideas:
For All Kids:
1) Give each other a break from devices/distractions – put down devices to help you both focus while you talk. Undivided attention is usually more rewarding for everyone involved.
2) Take a few minutes to connect with your kids before you start to work. Talk about how they slept, what dreams they had, what they want to do today—anything that lets them know you’re focused on them and there with them in those moments.
3) Leave them looking forward to the next thing you’re going to do with them: “When I’m done working for ___ mins we’re going to… [read a story, bake, do a craft, go for a walk/drive]. I can’t wait to do it with you!” Make sure to show excitement about coming together again.
4) Bring them a snack every now and then. Nothing sends a clearer signal that you’re there to take care of them than food. It doesn’t need to take you long—grab them a yogurt, a granola bar, an apple. Any snack they like will do.
5) Include them when you need a break. Do a quick Just Dance song together, head outside for 10 minutes of together time, have a quick cuddle on the couch while they tell you what they’ve been doing/watching, etc.
Extras for Younger Kids:
1) Give them a stuffy that you’ve “charged” with extra hugs for them to watch tv with. Come back periodically to charge it up again.
2) Give them something special to hold (preferably of yours) to wear or hold on to that reminds them that you’re there with them.
3) Point to the hands of a clock or set a timer to let them know when they get to spend time with you again.