With the summer holidays done and the first day back to school fast approaching, there is always so much to get done and so little time to do it especially when we are still in holiday mode. For many of us in BC, Canada, the uncertainty around schools being open is mounting and the possibility of school not actually starting is a very real and disturbing one.
In the event that school doesn’t start, and you are a stay at home Mum, I thought it might be helpful to put together a list of tips and ideas to help you get back on track, kick-start some sort of routine and get the most out of the days for you and your children particularly if in the K to Grade 5 range.
1. Reinstate a routine as if your children were actually going to school:
This will not only prepare your children for when school does start but it will also allow you to get more things done. To avoid the holiday habits going on endlessly, I encourage you to get your children up, dressed and fed at the same time you would as if it were a school day.
2. Create some sort of routine for the day that includes some homework:
When everyone is ready, you could have your children do some “homework” on the iPad or computer, after all what child dislikes being able to “play” on a device even if it’s homework! There are many educational apps that are fun and interactive that teach children at the same time. Personally, I would kick start the day with this when the kids are alert and receptive. I would also advise setting a timer for this so that it doesn’t end up being for too long. During this time, you can get to some of your chores. After the session is finished, if you have a garden, send them outside to have a run around!
This could be followed by a snack and reading session. You could make a visit to the library and choose a book that the whole family might enjoy reading out loud. If your children can read, you could take turns reading out loud or, your older kids could read to the younger ones (this would give you more time to do your chores). Try to take time each day to do this.
3. Carve out some time in the day to take a walk:
Take a walk around your neighborhood and have a note book dedicated to making notes on the things you see each day on the walk, it could be trees, flowers, birds, animals, anything. It could be a form of Nature Diary, you could even press wildflowers or leaves and stick them into it. Walking can be a great place to encourage kids (particularly boys) to talk and getting some fresh air is always good. If you can walk to your local park, you could tie in the two and let the kids play for a while. This could also be a good time for you to either join in the play or get some emails or reading done. If your children are old enough and you are comfortable with them doing this on their own, it would also be nice for them to do it alone and then tell you about it on their return.
4. Learn something new together or play a game together:
This could be as simple as a learning a new card game or board game or as much as a learning a new language together. I think that teaching your children to “touch type” would be a valuable skill. There are many apps out there that do just that and this would be a perfect time for this.
5. Prepare the dinner together or do some baking:
This not only creates wonderful family time but can also be used to teach your children some basic cooking skills and get dinner prepped and cooked all in one.
6. Schedule in some play dates for your children
7. Maybe once during the week you could organize a trip to a museum, The Aquarium, Science World etc:
This could be like a field trip. You could make a list of things in your city that you would like to see and do and set aside time to do this.
8. Set up some sort of chore routine:
This helps children learn that they can and should contribute to the smooth running of the home and that not everything should fall on Mum and Dad’s shoulders. Try and do these chores at the same time each day and everyone do them at the same time.
9. Have fun!
Whatever you do, make sure that for some of the time, you have fun with your children and let them know just how much you enjoy being with them. Try to view this time as a gift of having more time to spend with them. Hard as this may be, especially when your to-do list is now as long as your arm and growing, how you view this, will largely influence how you will be during this time.
10. Re-instate a Bed Time routine:
Lastly but not least, whatever your day has looked like, I encourage you to re-instate some form of bedtime routine. If the bed times have got really late, you may have to gradually bring the bedtime back in order to reach your end goal. Children need their sleep and need more sleep than they often get. According to the National Sleep Foundation the following is a guideline for required hours sleep:
- Children ages 1 – 3 years : 12 – 14 hours sleep
- Children ages 3 – 5 years : 11 – 13 hours sleep
- Children ages 5 – 12 years : 10 – 11 hours sleep
They also recommend that devices and TV’s are kept out of bedrooms and that playing on devices and watching TV too close to bedtime should be avoided.
At the end of the day, I firmly believe that kids thrive on structure and routine and now that the holidays have finished, even if school doesn’t go back next week, creating some structure at home will be a good thing. Good for the children but more importantly, good for you too.
I don’t know about you, but come the end of the holidays, I get tired of the PJ’s at 11am, just starting to do something and realizing that it’s lunch time and finally getting around to doing that thing mid afternoon! Before you know it, it’s an 8pm dinner and bedtime has leaked late into the evening hours! It was fun for the holidays but it’s time to change.
If you have any ideas that you find work for re-instating some structure and creating some fun for your kids, I’d love to hear from you.