It's fair to say that as we enter the second week of school closures, many of us are feeling restless and discouraged. While last week was technically "March Break", this week holds a new set of challenges, and acceptance of what reality may feel like for the coming future. With this in mind, we wanted to share some ideas that we as Child and Youth Care Practitioners have used for in-home care and sessions with children and youth.
By now, we're sure your Facebook dashboards are full of activities, DIY's and How-To's. To help add to those wonderful resources, we wanted to share some concepts on re-thinking your home environment. We can't change that we have to focus on being in our homes right now, but we can change the way we view our home and it's possibilities for child care.
Let's start with the living room. It's a central piece to your home, especially for time together as a family. Perhaps now you're living room is being used for television, tech, time, play time, and/or reading stories (no judgment here on how you're using this time, we don't expect you to be a superhuman during these times). Going into week two may have this space feeling too routine, boring, or restless. If you think about re-inventing the space to counter this, you can use your imagination to think of endless possibilities! Here are some ideas to help you get inspired:
Making a blanket and pillow fort! If you're going to play cards or watch movies anyways, you can take up some extra time by building the perfect fort, and having a cool space to do these activities in may increase how long your child has fun with it too.
Transforming the living room through play: You can transform your living room into a jungle, rain forest, far away galaxy or anything! Once you and your child choose, you can watch some fun/educational videos to get inspired, make the 'decorations' through crafting, and decide what snack would go with the theme. Not only can this help build planning and problem solving skills, but it can create a new flair to similar activities they have already done, and give your child more control over their environment!
Embracing the space together: You may have already tried this, but from our experience we know this first week of this crisis has meant a lot of phone calls and problem solving for us. If you haven't gotten a chance to spend undivided family time in the living room. Make popcorn in your pj's and put on your favorite childhood film to share with your child while you curl up together. Find a stack of the best books you have, read to your child, read your favorite book while they read theirs with music on, or try yoga together for the first time by watching a video!
With the hectic planning for the future and updates on the state of the city, re-inventing this family space in your home may be a welcome change and distraction for both your child and yourself to embrace this time together despite the uncertainty ahead.
Onto the kitchen next! There have been a lot of posts and reference on social media that this time off may be a good chance to teach your child how to cook, or bake. While this can be true, we want to encourage you that teaching a skill and having plenty of food doesn't have to be your priority for this space. Here are some ideas to help change your mindset about it:
Get creative: Look through your cupboards together for ingredients that can be asked or cooked with. Brainstorm and create a yummy dish out of leftovers or pantry finds with your child! No extravagant cooking lessons or perfect loaves of banana bread, just simple creative fun. Maybe you make sugar cookies with jam in the middle, a cocoa powder and peanut butter smoothie. what matters is using the time to find the ingredients together, and have fun creating and eating them.
Change where and how you eat: Under normal circumstance, keeping routine around mealtimes can be beneficial, if not crucial. However, these aren't normal circumstances. Over the last week, you may have been eating food at the table, or on the couch (as we have). A change in routine about where and how you eat could feel refreshing! In unusual circumstances, maybe having a picnic on the kitchen floor (with all the stuffies and toy friends invited of course) can be a welcome change of pace. You can also create little challenges around how you eat to keep the habitual mealtime interesting. Eating everything on the plate with only a spoon, eating your sandwich or pizza with a fork, or creating a catchphrase for every time you finish a bite. Adding a little change and a little fun can go a long way.
Indulge Yourself: You don't need to have a lot of food stocked up to indulge yourself from time to time. In this time of uncertainty, not everyone has the supplies, energy, or ability to make full, healthy meals. In our opinion, that's okay! Instead of beating yourself up over not having everything you need/want to serve, you can take this as a time to treat yourself and your family to some eating habits that usually wouldn't fly. Kraft Dinner for 3 meals a day, chips and snacks for dinner, bowls of ice cream with lunch, why not? You don't have to be superhuman 7 days a week just because your children are home 7 days a week. Your whole family deserves a break and some comfort food now and then.
Comment to let us know if you have any other ideas for re-inventing these spaces over the next week, and stay tuned for our next blog post about re-inventing the basement and the upstairs!