Panic at the Pandemic: Insight and 6 suggestions
Our country, and the world, are currently experiencing a significant crisis. The corona virus is affecting more than those who actually contract the disease. Schools, public venues, large events, libraries, and more are shut down. No doubt something in your life has been cancelled or postponed indefinitely.
If your kids had been in school, they're now home. If they were involved in sports, they're not now. You're probably avoiding contact with large groups of people and at risk people. You might be scrambling to ensure your family is fed during this time of mass panic. The store shelves are empty of many staples families rely on. We had to resort to frozen fruit to ensure our family would get the nutrition we need.
If your children are slightly aware of the state of the world, no doubt they're panicking a bit too. Our kids already struggle with changes and fears. We must reassure them and give them information appropriate to their ability to understand. In our house, that means informing them about how the virus is transmitted and who is at most risk from complications. We are distancing ourselves from at risk groups, and practicing proper hand washing (as we always do). We aren't panicking. We aren't shutting down our lives. We are using common sense.
School closings don't affect us. We will continue as usual. With the lovely exception that we will be including some friends in our lives for a time. One of my dearest friends is a single mom who must work to put food on her table. So we will be watching her children as often as possible so she may continue to provide for them.
I have no doubt that school closings affect many of my readers. My son, Will would not do well with this sort of upheaval in his routine, so I know many of your kids are spinning out. I am sure you're seeing stimming, and meltdowns that weren't problematic a week ago.
I would like to offer several ideas to help your littles and homes remain sane!
I really cannot stress the need for routine too much. Our house is much calmer with a static routine. I have my laminated week on the wall that I change to reflect cancellations and additions. Will has his own weekly schedule too. He wanted half hour blocks laminated so he could customize it. I created ours in excel, but there are many templates online that use words or pictures. Such as these: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/221661612884892336/
They are available for purchase or as ideas to create your own. I invested in a laminator some time ago so I can reuse mine. For this short time, I might just print off three or four and use new each week.
We are in MI, so we are very much at the mercy of the still chilly weather and mud season, but layers and changes of clothes allow us to still enjoy the sun--when we have it. Fresh air does something wonderful for our moods though. Running with the dog in the yard or biking up and down the street really seem to set a positive tone for us. The fresh air and sun are wonderful for the immune system too. Even parks would be an option.
Go to your library TODAY before it closes down. Many in our area already have. Choose as many books as you can carry and read together. If you can't read with your child all the time, someone else can. I am sure I will be doing a lot of reading with our friends over the next month. And their mother will and does too. We were just at the library and brought home around 80 books between four kids. More than half have been read and I will make an emergency trip today to grab as many as I can. Reading passes time quickly. We can talk about the pictures, read the words or not, experience the colors together. Books are an incredible way to increase speech and understanding about social cues and the world too. Will struggles with determining how others would feel in different situations, so facial and body expressions in books really help him learn it. Kae loves the colors. Mack loves the thrill of a good story. Rory loves diving into the characters' minds. However your kids experience books, this is a great time to deepen that love.
We are a screen lite family. Our screen use is expanding as our kids' needs and lives grow. We are still pretty limited on use. However, with kids out of school and scrambling, it might be a great time to introduce them to that new science show you've had your eye on. My kids love "How its Made", "The Explosion Show", and "LEGO Masters". Discovery and National Geographic are great options. If you have Disney+, I hear they are putting "Frozen 2" out early. There are also tons of educationally charged websites that can be really fun. My kids particularly enjoy www.prodigy.com. Kae also likes Starfall, Khan academy kids, and Teach your monster to read. Hers are websites or apps for phones or tablets. If you have older kids, they might enjoy Cousera, Edx, or Modern States for some fun and challenging courses. You can audit most courses for free. Your school may have put out a list of other online resources as well. However, as much as I prefer learning screen activities, there is more to the screen than education. We have a switch and Mario Kart. Tournies happen. Screens are also for entertainment. Will also loves "Feather". It is a computer game that helps him reach calm.
5. SENSORY TRAIL
When we reach our long, dark winter with far below freezing temperatures and my sensory seeker, Mack starts climbing walls, I pull out our obstacle course materials and create a sensory/obstacle trail for everyone to experience. Will enjoys avoiding touching and Mack loves touching whatever he can! Kae loves the challenge and showing off what she can do. We have a long hall where I tape down yarn in different shapes. We have sticks and connectors we use to make jumps or limbo style structures. Sensory bins with colored raw rice and raw beans can be great fun for many sensory seeking kids too.
6. GAMES and CRAFTS
We have a stash of board and card games we enjoy playing together as a family, or different groups will section off to play. We have competitive and cooperative games. Several favorites are Tsuro, Uno, Flux, Life, Code Names, and Unstable Unicorns. I am aware that many libraries also lend out games, which is a better option than purchasing them all new. Crafts can also help use up time, and are a great outlet for pent up energy. As simple as coloring on new textures or as complicated as sewing or crocheting, crafts are well loved. Construction paper and crayons on a scavenger hunt through the yard to find different textures and do rubbings to see how they look on paper is one of the activities my kids beg for. We have wiki stix too which they mold into many shapes. Playdough or kinetic sand can be awesome outlets too.
I hope this list and musings are helpful to you in this time of questions and crisis. If you have questions, I am happy to answer! Enjoy your time with your babies.