With the closure of schools throughout England for the foreseeable future, many parents are faced with the prospect of considerable time at home with their children in ways that no one expected or prepared for.
With that in mind here are some tips and advice for making the time pass as positively as possible.
Focus on the activities they enjoy
When all is said and done, you live with your children and know them incredibly well. You know the things they enjoy and the things that might trigger huffs, puffs and eye rolls. Focus on the things you know they’ll like and talk, suggest other things or things similar to those they love. You never know, you all might discover something new to explore and enjoy.
Dive in together
If you are all home together and time is not a precious commodity, try shifting the focus from getting your children to do things to making real connections with them. You don’t always have to be the mum, dad or guardian barking out orders. You might be surprised at the results of addressing them in a different, slightly more equal way. If they want to spend some time gaming, let it happen and join in! The same goes for Lego, arts and crafts or a nature trek through the back garden. They will learn and you might too in a way that can bring you all closer.
Read or listen
When it comes to the subject of reading, the act itself is enriching and educational, the topic is often secondary. So ask your children what they would like to read and read it together, voice the characters and make it fun. Audiobooks are another valuable resource for you all to sit and listen together, again though, try taking your direction from them.
Use your gadgets differently
We are all incredibly structured in the way we use our technology, but changing times call for changing habits. Instead of automatically heading for their favourite messenger, social media site or go-to YouTube page, try something different. There are an endless variety of word and number games on iOS and Android that may well showcase your device’s potential to do things you never thought they could such as educate and entertain. Not to mention software such as Face time, ZOOM and Skype, allowing them to have supervised play dates with friends and talk to relatives.
Sing (and dance) like no one’s watching
Yes we know you probably say you can’t sing and dance but it doesn’t matter at all because it’s about fun and laughter. Singing makes us feel good and dancing keeps us active. If you’re stuck for a melody try musicals (many versions of the most popular are available online on sites such as YouTube and Vevo) not to mention Spotify.
Older children don’t get to hide either, just choose your musical numbers a little more carefully, shall we say a little less Frozen and a little more West Side Story or Hamilton. Time it right and you never know; the stories and events depicted might lead to questions and interests so be prepared to research the answers together.
Older children and teenagers
The challenges we face with older children can be unique as they simply aren’t wired for prolonged periods at home, social plans may have been cancelled and time spent on social media can lead to hearsay and rumours being seen as facts. It can be a stressful time.
Acknowledging those fears and concerns is important which makes activities you can do together equally important, and things you can do whilst talking can be the best of all. Think about film nights (with no bedtime curfew) painting and drawing sessions, even gaming together. You need to convey the importance of doing what you are all doing together so that they can enjoy the social aspects of their lives sooner.
Give them freedom and importantly; take your direction from them, their mood and what activities they may or may not want to do.
The world feels like an unpredictable place right now and settling into a new routine is, at the best of times unsettling. Talking to your children, allowing them to choose the direction that activities and entertainment take and then working with that can make all the difference to them.