*If you know of a parent staying at home that may benefit from this article, please pass along.
Calling all mothers! Calling all fathers! Gather HOME immediately!!
An unexpected halt to our hairy-scary schedules! And an immediate turn-about from constantly leaving home to rather gathering there!- to STAY!!!
Well, at least my sister, mother of 5 young children, is sure that the several weeks of home-schooling loom like an eternity before her!
It looks like she’s not the only one struggling here. We saw these posts online recently:
The weekend getaways went from “the world is your oyster” to this:
Recently in exasperation my friend cried out, “If I’m the teacher, doesn’t that mean I can expel the students?!”😫
We have grown accustomed to packed schedules with places to go and things to do!- outside our homes. But suddenly it’s a complete turn about and here we are- at HOME!
Our Governors asked us to stay home, unless absolutely necessary! I wonder to myself, does Easter shopping qualify as ‘absolutely necessary’? And if I order it online is that making someone else unnecessarily go out? 😳 or am I doing good by supporting our economy? 🤔 These are a very few of the many questions we now ask ourselves in this world of new rules.
These new rules were made to prevent bad things from happening, and in the mean time, some very good things are happening because of them- at home.
We suddenly have an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY to put some real TIME into what really matters MOST to us
-the precious people in our family –
RATHER than taking time away from them to pursue work, school, sports, dance, music lessons, school-plays, play-dates, parties, even numberless church activities, etc…
All good things, all good things!! …
…but perhaps so MANY good things that we have been missing out on the BEST thing
– TIME TOGETHER with those we have been given to LOVE!
So, now that we have it…what to do with it? 🤷🏻♀️
Will it drive us to insanity?🤪
Or will it draw us to more security, peace, and love like we’ve never experienced before? 🥰
It probably just depends on how we choose to use it.
So, here it goes, some tips and tricks to making the most of this time together!
Don’t panic! Don’t magnify your worries, magnetize to headlines, and just think the worst!! Stop. There’s nothing worse than fear to cause distress, frustration, tension, to displace and destroy love! Let love and trust in your Maker make your moments together better! And remember…this too shall pass, and you may glean some great memories from it!
Don’t feel sorry for yourself! We are remarkably blessed for many reasons, but right now it’s such an advantage to live in a day that we can be forewarned of illness and do what we can together as a world to minimize the mayhem of it. (See attitude of gratitude below.)
Don’t start controlling everyone!! NOBODY likes being bossed around! DO start leading out intentionally each day. Conference together often as a family to hear the hopes, wishes, and needs of your family, including sharing kindly your own, and plan to work together to meet those wants and needs.
Don’t say things you’ll regret! In your moments of frustration, fear, or tension, it’s really easy to start spouting off in irritation and anger, but the damage can be long-lasting. It may look like yelling and being rude & sarcastic in remarks works in the sit-coms, but in real life you don’t get away with it. It damages relationships, hearts, and steals your marriage, family, and friendships of the rewards of trust, safety together, and joy.
Don’t let screen time take over! The book, The Tech-wise Family, by Andy Crouch is a must read. He shares 10 tech-wise commitments regarding our use of technology that are super helpful. Some of my favorites- Devices are only used in public places in the home- parents have full access to children’s devices. Take 1 hour a day, 1 day a week, 1 week a year to turn off your devices and connect as a family. Read the book for the complete list! As an experienced mother I have learned it’s best to have jobs completed BEFORE fun-time with devices begins (or even just movies). It’s a reward. And have children turn in their screens before bedtime. Just sooo much better that way.
Don’t go out – even to Grandpa and Grandma’s! Protect them! Help save people’s lives by staying home. We will know we were successful when the threat passes and it seems like nothing much happened!
Do NOT engage in arguments, or let your children do that. It takes two to argue- just empathetically say, “I can see you feel very strongly about this. Let’s talk when we are able to do it respectfully.” And walk away. Only a few times of this response SHOULD encourage a calmer, healthier bouncing of ideas back and forth respectfully, which really makes progress happen in life. If your children get at each other, “outside to argue” is a good go-to that most often breaks it up. If they won’t listen to go outside and no one is in danger of real harm, walk away. Dr. Latham has GREAT approaches to stopping this behavior available on YouTube.
Do not waste this precious time you’ve been given. Here are 10 DOs to show you how to make the most of this time together!
Do apply an attitude of gratitude. Take the turn-around challenge. Every statement you make in your mind- or out loud- that’s negative, turn to a statement of gratitude. (For example, “This kitchen is such a disaster!” Could turn into gratitude for food and family around you. Or “This child is driving me crazy!!” Could turn into taking a moment to remember he or she won’t be tiny for very long and feeling gratitude for the wonderful chance to grow as a person by being a parent.) Though at the moment this may really stretch you, it’s a great exercise to put into practice and will become easier with time. Expressing your gratitude out-loud can often turn around even the tensest of moments in your home. Experiment with it! It’s worth the peace it could bring!
Do Find the Rhythm! In teaching preschool as a newlywed, the best thing we teachers had going for us was the rhythm, the pattern we would follow every day- in our own way. Yes, the first week could be a bit challenging as students and teachers alike were discovering what worked for them, following a proposed plan, but then finally falling into a pattern that really worked for daily doing. You’ll feel more successful at the end of the day if you danced to the rhythm.
As a parent approaching these next weeks of school, set your house in order. Not a stiff, rigid, unrelenting order, but a reliable, comforting, gently flexible pattern that can be repeated in a simple way every day. Children do SO MUCH better when they know clearly what the expectations of the day are, every day.
Here is an example of a family rhythm we’ve followed at home these past weeks – everyone is different, so create one that works for you!
*Begin the day with together time. Sleepy or not, gather between 6 or 7 am to study scriptures and pray together. (The exact time can be announced the night before and it is dependent upon work schedules, and the children exhaustion level).
*Breakfast between 7&8am.
*20 min of exercise at 8:30am (for any who want to join in.)
*online school starts at 9am.
*Quick exercise break & snack around 10:30am.
*Eat lunch around noon. Little ones are pretty much done with school at this point.
*Between 12:30&2:30 is a more flexible part of the school day with each child working on what they need to do: worksheets, writing, reading, or even just practicing piano, etc..
* 2:30 story time for younger children.
*Another exercise break around 3 in the afternoon. Which could mean an exercise video online, a walk with the dogs, or playtime in the backyard.
*Expect at least one “family” chore a day. This is defined as a chore you do to pitch in because you are part of this family. (Expect more chores if it’s a free weekend, less if they’re bogged down with schoolwork.)
*Try to get outside for a walk, a family soccer game, or to ride our horses each afternoon for at least 30 min.
*Try to eat family dinner between 6&7pm. And since it’s been a little more relaxed than usual, snuggle in together for a family movie party or games or just a fun family talk. (Ah, the life!)
*To end the day right, pray together and do family hug and kisses goodnight.
Good luck creating a family rhythm that works for your family!
Do get creative together!
Time to take up crocheting, sewing, sculpting, painting, planting a garden, or just a really fun family sport together. One fresh, fun, new activity a day or week can really go a long way in making a restricted time into some fun, refreshing recreational activity!!
One of my sisters and her husband took the chance to put up the family Christmas present- a trampoline. I’ve heard of others building play-sets together outside. It could be time to make that treehouse they’ve always dreamed about!
Don’t overwhelm yourselves with unrealistic goals or expectations but do add at least one small and simple thing that would just be FUN to your daily routine!
DO HELP ONE ANOTHER!!!
Reach out to connect with others via zoom, a phone call, GroupMe, etc… An extended family zoom meeting will do wonders for your spirit! A friend GroupMe keeping up on what’s going on in their world will help you look outside your own.
Even better, reach out to serve in the ways you can right now. For example, learn who needs toilet paper or groceries picked up and secretly drop some off at their door. Gather up lots of canned food and dropped it off at the nearest food bank. Help distribute Easter dinner boxes at the city mission. Do what you can. It will life your spirits.
If you feel stumped on how to help, take time to pray and ponder that question and answers will come.
The BEST place to help one another is at HOME!!
Start a secret service in your home by giving children hearts and leaving them where they’ve done a service (i.e. making a siblings bed, cleaning a bathroom mirror, organizing a cupboard for Mom, shining Dad’s shoes – does anyone do that these days?)
Doing family jobs together can be really rewarding!! We love tackling big jobs together. In the playroom, the children become pac-mans picking up and putting away and the vacuum becomes the ghost! If they’re touched by the ghost they lose a life. If they lose 3 lives, they have to clean up another room when it’s over! They can take 10 second breaks by sitting in the safety zone. My children have never had to clean another room, but they do get the huge playroom clean quickly and happily this way!
Doing big jobs together is especially nice if there isn’t a pressing timetable in which you must be finished. Just enjoy the job! We just tackled the garage together (many of you may have done this already) which hasn’t made it to the top of the priority list for 2 years! That felt GREAT for all of us!!
Cleaning the yard, getting a garden ready, even painting a room! (We let our Littles use tiny rollers and paint the lower part first while Dad does the high work, when they’re tired they leave and Dad double checks – paints over – their work. Make sure floor and child are covered because they will get paint everywhere.) Just have fun together helping get the job done!
I took to heart the advice I heard when I was young, “Marriage is like walking, you lean on one foot, then the other.” (Chieko Okazaki) This comes in REALLY helpful, ESPECIALLY when times are trying!! Forget his role, her role and just HELP each other!! Give one another breaks when needed. A walk without children can do wonders for a mother. Supporting Dad by giving him time to do his work, and respecting that time is the need to any father. Find ways to support one another BEFORE your spouse meets their limit!
What do you do if you are alone, or single-parenting, and need a break?! If you are doing this alone, or alone with children for any reason, please be sure to creatively find at least 1 hour a day to do something that nurtures you!! This can be challenging to coordinate, but you have people depending on you! They love you! They need you! They enjoy you in their life! So be the best you you can be by refueling daily! Take time with God to gain more strength and add your favorite thing to do each day: a painting session, an extra dose of exercise, even just watching your favorite series. Whatever really truly fills you up, recreates, and gives you more to give!!
DO nurture your marriage relationship! And yourself!
Neglecting it will hurt the happiest of marriages and nurturing it will rejuvenate the most wilting ones. Often, when we feel drastically at our wits end, it is not the children, or going stir crazy, or a need to spend $ that’s the problem, it’s missing out on that which matters most to your family. It’s a sign that it’s time to take time to nurture the relationship that’s at the heart of it all. Find creative ways to do this! You can make it happen!! A walk together- even around the house when the children are in bed. Porch time together to talk, after they’re tucked in. A dinner date on the roof at sunset while the children are soo happy you let them watch their favorite movie. Work together on making your room an oasis, then enjoy some couple time in this “new” setting. The options are endless- well, at least there is no end to coming up with ways to show your spouse they are number one.
Do take this time to be healthier! You’ve always wished you had the time so now IS the time!! INCLUDE exercise in your daily routine. Shake it up! Mix it up! Make it fun and refreshing!!
Try new healthy foods together! Put together a healthier foods cook book of recipes you want to try. Download a healthy eating app like Noom, My Fitness Pal, or Weight Watchers, etc. Master the green smoothie until the whole family loves it (if you need a recipe, here’s our favorite that serves 7 small cups: 1 cup kale, 1 cup berries, 1 scoop purely inspired organic protein (if you don’t use this add 1/2 tsp vanilla & a little stevia forever sweetening, 2 c almond milk, 1/2 c. 1% milk, and 1 mug of ice.)
And do enjoy a treat together from time to time! A surprise treat to enjoy together can be a super refreshing, connective surprise for your family.
Do include music! Yesterday our music room was full and flooding out with wonderful sounds of music all day long! (Harp, 3 piano practices and 3 piano lessons by FaceTime, voice lesson and flute practice. I also got a ukulele concert from my 12 year old. What an uplift to our family!
If you or your family can’t play any instruments, now is the time to learn! And remember, you can always sing, find some fun karaoke music online and go at it!! Singing together as a family unites and empowers you (and lowers your blood pressure!) like little else!
Do keep learning! Our school made the switch quickly to online & its been great. But if you’re left without resources their are many available online, even offerings for free even during this stressful time! Family Online School by American Heritage School has been awesome to use as a mother with my one daughter that has homeschooled these past couple years!
Even just reading together and doing math games, having children keep a daily journal helps minds be happy and avoid boredom.
Nurture curiosity, feel wonder, Ask questions about something fascinating, investigate something. Enjoy learning together!!
Do Play together!! The kind of recreational play that gives you new energy, helps you forget your troubles, connects you in laughter and love! Whether it’s a board game (some children don’t know what these are!), a round of Catan on your phone, or Mario Party together on the Nintendo Switch, soccer outdoors, or setting up a basketball court indoors! (My daughter and her husband hooked a child’s basketball hoop on the baby’s crib and taped the bedroom floor around to make a basketball half-court so they could play rounds of b-ball with their baby boys, 22 months and 10 months old. So fun!! (See Video below)
Remember part of play may be entertaining some good humor – there’s plenty of it around including really funny, knowing YouTube videos like this one (Les Mes song about staying home.)
And most of all DO Pray Together!! Pray in gratitude. Pray for your families, for forgiveness, for your needs, for those who are ill, for those helping the ill. Pray for your country, and your world. Pray over everything!!
Pray “with real intent”, “with Faith”, “with full purpose of heart”, “with all your might”.
Pray reverently, in humility, respectfully, acknowledging your Maker’s hand in all things.
Nothing unites a family and brings quite as much comfort to an individual as prayer. Nothing gives us access to power far beyond our own as does prayer! Simply pray.
Last, but not least, do remember this is remarkable. You’ve been given an incredible gift, time together you will never forget, and that you most likely will never get again. It’s your chance to gather in, be close, be uninterrupted by hairy-scary schedules, just be together. You may look back at this time as one the best you can remember.
Love to you, and Lots of Prayers for your safety and protection too,
CaMarie Hoffman and Family ❤️
My married daughter Anna’s experience with being home bound right now:
When I heard “Stay Home!”, I immediately thought about all the things I’d be able to accomplish while we’d be home. I wanted to tackle it all and finish everything on my to-do list and more!
But after the first three days we spent completely at home, my toddler and I were both stressed out, and my to-do list was still just as long as it was before (or longer!).
As I shared my frustration with my husband that night, he helped me realize what a gift we have in this forced slow-down of our lives and urged me to take advantage of stillness, instead of filling these now-empty pockets of time with more tasks.
This quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke straight to my soul as I pondered what my husband and I had talked about: “Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life. Is it? If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it.”
The next morning I woke up ready to cherish the day and enjoy precious one-on-one time with my sweet two-year-old before her baby twin sisters are born this summer.
What a difference it made in our day together, choosing to make her and my husband my to-do list!!!
We laughed and talked and played and I just soaked it all in.
My stress was gone, replaced by a warm and peaceful feeling of love and gratitude.
What a blessing we have in the midst of this worldwide hardship, to be sent to our homes—and to stay there—with the ones we love the most.
I hope you will feel healing and peace and joy as you choose to fill those previously packed schedules with meaningful and precious moments with your family at home, for that is what matters MOST!
Some GOOD IDEAS from my sister, Kristi, mother of 4 children aged baby to 12:
*For extroverts like myself who need sociality… stay connected with family & friends through FaceTime or zoom. Play games with you kids like scavenger hunts through Marco Polo with friends.
*Also – we know from research that kids thrive off of schedules. So I find it helpful that we follow a schedule each day that we’ve created. Sure, we are flexible on it when needed – but over all it helps my kids know what to expect during the day. And keeps them from getting to bored by switching up our activity each hour.
* Fresh air & sunshine are good for the soul – so on good weather days we spend lots of time outside riding bikes & scooters together, jumping on the trampoline, going for walks, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and playing outdoor games.
* Continue to think of others and do service – Make hearts to put in your windows to show your neighbors you love them, make cookies and deliver them to friends, go sing some songs for grandparents standing out on their driveway, etc. Leave the cookies or any other items on their doorstep then doorbell ditch them and run!
There are lots of ideas but one that my husband’s family did recently I loved – drive by the house of a recently returned missionary or someone who has a birthday and honk at their house, wave and show signs you’ve made for them out the windows!
Enjoy this time together!!