This 2020 Essentials List can breathe fresh air into your summer of quarantining.
Gearing up for scene two of the worst real-life play ever written feels like a relentless task. I don’t even know where to begin, and yet I feel this overwhelming responsibility to make magic somehow.
Gone are the days of spur of the moment trips to the Science Center or family days out shopping and lingering for a long lunch at a favorite restaurant. Playdates and mommy get-togethers came to a screeching halt late March and seem to be on hold indefinitely for various reasons.
I absolutely must “keep this kid busy,” I remind myself several times a day, but I need:
Virtually Anything and Everything
I have come across so many wonderful online resources that we’ve been taking advantage of these last few months, and I plan to keep them going throughout the summer. Everything from online craft workshops, virtual vacation bible schools, storytimes, online cooking classes, and other kid-friendly ventures have popped up recently.
Take advantage of these opportunities to engage your child with others in a safe way, encourage ongoing learning, and help spark new interests. The Missouri Historical Society has a “History at Home” program. The St. Louis Art Museum offers “Wee Wednesdays” online. The St. Louis Zoo has been posting animal videos on their Facebook page!
I have spent weeks scouring online shops and local stores for the perfect backyard pool escape, and now that we’ve finally procured one … I’ve got a guaranteed afternoon of no complaining right at my fingertips. It also provides me with leverage for the “finish your vegetables,” “pick up your toys,” “stop running,” “last warning!” moments. Things tend to fall into line with the threat of “no pool time today!”
That Which I Do Not Share
No, it’s not selfish. I believe every parent should have a little something of their own, off-limits to everyone else without permission. For some, it might be a nightstand drawer full of deluxe chocolate pieces or a bag of gummy worms. It may be your favorite drink kept chilled in the fridge for an afternoon pick-me-up or after bedtime wind down.
Whatever it is, make it known that it is special to you and not to be touched. Everyone in my house knows about “mom’s chocolate” and the bags of hot Cheetos high on the shelf, meticulously placed.
The Quiet Hour
That’s It! “Everyone is going in time out, including Mommy and Daddy.”
Yep, it gets that real at times, but it gives us an opportunity to separate, reflect, entertain ourselves, and get some much-needed space. Our rule at home is one hour. My daughter goes to her room without any screens. She is free to draw, color, do crafts, play, read, etc. I may catch up on a book or TV show, answer emails, or have a cup of tea and just relax. My husband may take a short power nap.
On those days when I find myself yelling or getting frustrated easily, this time is golden and needed. It’s like hitting the reset button on our household. We’re usually in a much better place to resume family together time afterward.
There really is no substitute for time outside in wide-open spaces. We’ve gotten creative by hiking more, going to visit parks for walks at non-peak times so there’s more room to run and play. We take along bikes, scooters, bubble wands, or sports equipment to allow play without having to rely on playground equipment.
We pick flowers and leaves to bring home for craft projects. We’ve collected rocks for painting and turned sticks into magic wands. We’ve brought out tents to “camp” outside in the daytime with a cooler of snacks and music on the playlist. Sometimes sitting in the park and video chatting with a friend is just the thing to lift my daughter’s spirts when she’s missing her playmates.
The Freezer Stash
Child: “Mom, I’m bored!”
Me: Hands the kid an Italian ice to buy myself about 30 minutes to watch something on the DVR or make a phone call uninterrupted.
… Just trying to keep it simple and keep it sane!