Life as a mom has always been busy, a bit chaotic and full of challenges, but now it  feels like you are trapped on a hamster wheel, one day rolling into the next and you have a sense of restlessness you just can’t shake.

You feel guilty for giving your kids so much screen time, but you you still need to work, get things done around the house and have some time for yourself.

None of the things you ordinarily do with the kids are relevant; no school, programs, playgrounds or playdates.  

You can’t even escape to Starbucks to be alone and get stuff done. It’s hard to feel at your most creative when you’re in survival mode with no end in site.

Take a look at these 10 ideas to to see which ones might work in your house to help keep your kids busy and create better flow to your day while you’re parenting kids through the COVID pandemic.

These suggestions are most applicable to kids elementary age and older

 

10 INDEPENDENT ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS WHEN MOM NEEDS A BREAK

#10 Map out their day (and yours too)

Giving your kids a sense of structure and predictability. Keeping relatively consistent wake and sleep rhythms and flow to your day will make things go more smoothly.

You can find all kinds of chore charts and daily routine charts on the internet. You can find ones with pictures for kids who can’t read…..pretty, colour co-ordinate charts and more basic ones too. In our house, sticky notes are king. My kids know what to expect for the day by reading a few words I’ve scribbled on a sticky note and then discussed with them.

Make sure they are prepare them for moments in the day where you will be busy and unable to play with them. Maybe you will be doing a special craft or activity later in the day or going for a walk to get fresh air. Help them know what to expect.

One thing that has really helped set an independent morning and nighttime routines with my younger kids is using Chompers.  The kids are (almost) always more eager to brush their teeth and find out what is going on in the latest episode, and I’m pretty confident they’ve brushed for more than 10 seconds. 

parenting routing structure

#9 Get them Moving

Before settling  in to do work or to take some time for yourself, experiment with having them burn of some of their energy first.  

It’s great if you can  take them for a walk in your neighbourhood (keeping your distance of course!), get them to play in the yard or go for a bike ride.  

But if your going to parent effectively through this COVID pandemic, need some time alone right now, try some of these YouTube videos to get them movingnparenting kids through the COVID pandemic.

It seems like everyone knows about Joe Wicks and his fantastic daily workouts

In our house, Adriene is a hit!

She has the most encouraging and engaging way about her in this yoga video with kids. If you haven’t check out her free yoga videos for adults, you definitely need to do that too.

Maybe they just need to “get their beans out” and practice some dance moves for a few minute.

#8 Get Artistic

I am not musical, artistic or crafty, but my younger kids definitely are. I struggle to come up with creative ideas for crafts and definitely can’t drawn anything fancier then a stick person! 

Having another adult lead your kid through an activity can free you up, even for a short block of time, so you can get something productive done.

I’ve been amazed by the creations my kids have made while following Rob through art videos. Art for Kids Hub has both free and paid versions.

Creating a Masterpiece  is a bit of an investment financially ($20 USD/month + supplies) but the results are amazing. It is like having a talented artist come to your home and is especially great for older elementary aged + who like art. 

If your kids are younger this will require supervision, but older kids could definitely do this alone with the video. If you don’t have the supplies on hand for painting, Amazon should carry what you need.

 

If you have a piano at home, why not have your kids lean how to play with the extra time they might have available to them now. Mr. Hoffman is a funny and engaging teacher, even for younger children.

You can have some time to yourself while they learn a new skill. Bonus!

There are both paid and free options.

#7 Get Them Learning A New Language

Rosetta Stone is great for students Primary-12 (free for 3 months)

Duolingo is a free fun app to try out  

 

 

#6 Have Them Dive Into Something Academic

Kids have a question about math you can’t answer?  Or maybe you have older kids that want to learn computer programming in their spare time?

Khan academy is great for older kids, especially middle school and high school and is totally free

Khan Academy App for younger kids to learn math and language arts

Maybe they need some practice with reading, but if you can’t sit with them, Reading Eggs is great fun!

Outschool is a live video learning platform where kids can explore 10,000+ classes taught by a live teacher.

Virtual School Day is a super cool platform where classes are led by celebrities like Mayim Bialik, Aly Raisman, Julianne Hough, and Leland Melvin.

Challenge your kids to learn something new while you go and prep supper, do some work or have a few minutes of time to yourself and then ask them to explain to you what they have learned. Maybe you’ll learn something new too!

#5 Have them listen to an audio book

Reading together can be so much fun, but if you need to get some work done, maybe a loved on can read a book over Skype or FaceTime to your kids while you are in a meeting.

Or you can set them up with an audio book and get busy!

Audible has free books for kids

The Halifax Public Library has talking picture books for younger kids Or audiobooks for older kids

Librivox has a free ‘classics’ that are now in the public domain. We’ve been reading The Railway Children this week

 

#4 Get them into Podcasts

I love listening to podcasts, but I had never considered looking for podcasts for my kids before this past summer. I guess it never occurred to me that they were being created for kids too!  Once I figured that out, they’ve since become a regular part of our day.

Podcasts are great to listen to while kids are colouring, doing puzzles or lego or having some quiet time in their room so you can get some alone time.

Here are a collection of podcasts my younger kids love.

And my teenager votes for these *some may have strong language or more mature themes, so check them out first if this is a concern for you*

#3 Introduce them to animals

The Georgia Aquarium has the live feed of some pretty cute animals 

The Dallas Zoo has a ton of educational ‘Bring the Zoo to You’ videos. We learned a ton of new facts!

And the Denver Zoo has some great Zoo tours

#2 Free Play

Kids can do crafts, read books, do puzzles, colouring or lego independently. They can handwrite a letter to Grandma. If you have more than one child they can play boardgames together.

If you have a porch or deck, you can sit outside and keep an eye on younger kids while working and they play in your driveway or yard.

Younger kids may be able to keep themselves occupied for only short periods of time without a screen. You can help them develop this skill by giving them a specific task to do and working nearby to help keep them on track. As they build this skill they will be able to keep themselves busy for longer stretches of time.

 

#1 Let them have screen time….with looser limits

It is so challenging it is to work from home, maintain the day to day logistics of running a house, ensure your kids are learning something for school and not driving eachother nuts!   Breaking up the day with a few blocks of their favourite video game or TV show is absolutely OK.  Limits are necessary, but being more flexible with the amount of screen time the get is necessary parenting ‘tool’ to get through the  COVID pandemic!

Go easy on yourself if you feel you need to temporarily give your kids more screen time for the short term.  It’s important to contiue caring for yourself and attending to your responsabilities. If that means they watch one more show or spend a few more minutes playing a video game today, it’s ok. Hang in there!  ‘Pandemic parenting’ is tough.

If you’re looking for some helpful tips fo kids 0-3, this might be of use to you.

Marcy is a Clinical Social Worker in Halifax, NS who specializes in helping moms who are feeling frustrated, irritable and overwhelmed learn to cope more effectively and behave in a way that is more closely aligned with their values. If you’d like to book a free 15 minute consultation with Marcy click here. Or call (902) 702-7722 to schedule.

Marcy Daniels MSW, RSW

 

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