6 tips to simplify life when home with little ones

Becoming a school-ager, what an awesome milestone! Last August when I became the proud mom of a school-ager, I was excited and just plain grateful to have experienced the growth of my first born daughter from infanthood to then. I celebrated the first day of school like most parents, capturing memories through pictures. Soon into the school year (at least so it seemed) came the week long Thanksgiving break I did not plan for adequately. She was home with me the entire week while I worked. Barely making it through that, I developed a plan that worked well for us during the two week long Christmas break.

Now that most parents are staying home with their children due to the pandemic, I hope sharing these tips which worked for me then would be helpful for other parents.

Here are some tips to simplify life:

1. Carve out play time to engage with your little one – During our breaks, I ended up taking her out for lunch where we got to pray, share lots of hugs & kisses, and even some random stories from her 1st grade experience so far. I had an ear-ful, but I know it helped her feel ‘heard’ and loved.

2. Put them to ‘work’ on task independently – No, I don’t mean real work (no child labor concerns here, believe me) but task that will give them something to do and a sense of achievement when completed. My little girl, LJ, helped stuff her own party goody bags for her friends, did laundry tasks such as socks pairing, placed tissue in each restroom, and even completed a few math and reading pages in her workbook. I was able to use her ‘independent’ task time to accomplish some of mine as well. The rest I completed during nap or bedtime.

3. Incorporate your kids into what you can – We prepped meals/ baked together and she even recorded a video of the experience for her pretend YouTube fans. We performed some iiyabox product inventory counts together … I mean technically, this is practicing her counting/organizing skills, right? Yes moms (& dads), I realize having them ‘help’ could certainly drag out the task much longer than necessary but choose the right task wisely and just enjoy the bonding time.

4. Create sibling engagement time/activities - I engaged both girls in teaching one another new things. LJ the older sister delights in teaching JC, her younger sister sight words, and simple math skills. JC in turn taught her older sister some songs, dancing, and fashion skills. I've found this helps build their confidence, sisterly bond, and increase their desire to learn. I absolutely love watching LJ read books to JC. Seems there is something special about learning from another kid.

5. Buy-in/agreement - It helped, if possible, to draft an agreement with the kids. When they are involved, they are likely to adhere to it more. We agreed together on the general schedule we follow daily which includes meal times, exercise time, outside time: walks, bike rides, etc. Having it on display in an easily accessible area allows everyone to align better. I have found that when I inform them of an upcoming work meeting and see to their comfort before it begins, they are less likely to quarrel, or 'bother' me during the meeting.

6. Make 'fun' out of everyday - Ensure 'fun' in each day. This can be through some screen time... watching together and discussing it when possible, craft time: have them make you or a friend something; write a friend: pen pal and actually send through snail mail so they receive a physical letter; longer term project: write or illustrate one page of their own children's book and play board/card games for example.

Parenthood is a journey, which I strive to learn and grow daily. I also lean on online resources, simple science experiments, and faith building time to get through these days. Let's learn together - what are some things you are doing to engage your children during this stay home period? Leave your comments on our social media or here.