What a time we are living in…
A few weeks ago, many of us were complaining about the lack of snow days. Or we were looking forward to our planned Spring Break vacations. And now we are wondering, “What do we do with all this extra family time?!”
The current state is a perfect time to look to Romans 8, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” For those of us who love God and seek His purposes in this world, we can use this extra family time to establish some biblical habits…and maybe break some detrimental ones…
Make a list of “to do every day” tasks that must be checked off. Isn’t it funny how days when we have the most time, our normal tasks get missed…
This could include, bible reading, schoolwork, house projects, outside activities, or anything else that is in your normal routine.
PRO TIP: Do not associate this list with the ability to play video games or watch TV. This just teaches children that the things on the list are “bad” and video games are “good and worth enduring hardship to achieve”.
Go outside…A LOT!
Go for a walk in your neighborhood.
Pocahontas State Park is still open and is HUGE. It will be easy to stay “socially distant” in a State Park.
There have been strong arguments for the benefits of sunlight and fresh air as helping ward off the effects of past outbreaks.
PRO TIP: I recently posted about the benefits of starting a garden. It is the perfect time of year to start!
PRO TIP 2: Make your outside time into a Scavenger Hunt. There are printable options all over the internet.
Read (or listen)
Read to your children. Children can understand what they hear at a much higher level than what they read. Series like The Chronicles of Narnia can be read aloud as a family and provide great entertainment.
There are many ways to find online audio books including the Chesterfield Public Library. Turn on the “radio” and sit around it as a family… like the good old days!
PRO TIP: You can do this OUTSIDE if you download the audiobook to a device and put it on a picnic table in the State Park.
Teach your children to COOK!
Cooking is a life skill we all need. Start young and they won’t be intimidated. Baking is an easy intro. The children can help measure, pour, and stir.
Kids as young as 4 or 5 years old can make their own breakfast. Children ages 10 and older are certainly able to make a dinner with supervision. Perhaps you do the cutting, but they can start to do the cooking. Here are some suggestions.
PRO TIP: Curb your expectations. It will be messy. Get over it. Something might burn. That is okay! It might not taste the best (at first). Chew and swallow it!
BONUS PRO TIP: Clean-up is part of cooking, not a punishment. Include the cleanup as part of the kitchen tasks and you won’t be left cleaning up on your own.
Teach an old dog/cat/chicken new tricks!
We were created to be in relationship with nature and the animals. Use this extra time to have your family train your pets with some new tricks.
For cats (good luck!):
For chicken owners
Seriously though, your pets are a part of your family. Use this extra time to build that bond. Children love playing with pets!
Make fun and encouraging videos to send to people.
Perhaps you have a grandparent, Sunday School teacher, school teacher or other person you miss during this time. Make a video and send it to them. Show them what you are doing and learning (like the cooking example above).
Board Games, Table Games, and Puzzles
Some of our family’s favorites: Farkle & Yahtzee (you only need dice, scorecards available online), Qwixx, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Uno, Skip-Bo, all kinds of card games. Scoring apps are often available online for your phone (like for Yahtzee and Farkle)
PRO NERD TIP: Games like Dungeons and Dragons are highly creative table games. Online resources such as Roll.net have resources to play both in person as well as with others online.
PRO TIP: Games like Monopoly, Risk, and possibly Settlers of Catan can lead to familial strife. Choose your games wisely!
Exercise and sleep well
Exercise is one of the best things for your immune system. Get a good walk in each day. 45 minutes is a good target. Search online for some basic exercise routines that fit your ability level. There are apps and other things to help.
Sleep is also amazing for your immune system. Unfortunately, during times like these, we often WRECK our sleep patterns. Try to keep your sleep schedule. Wake up at your normal time. Go to bed at your normal time. If your normal time is unhealthy, use this time to change that. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Children need more!
Make a giant fort
Draw a huge town in chalk on the street
Make masks or other things out of cardboard boxes
Rock painting (pick some up at the state park)
Teach your kids the real way to play hopscotch (use chalk outside, or tape your floors inside)
Let your kids give you a mani/pedi (get in there, dad!!!!)
One last set of comments for your benefit:
During this time, there will be a HUGE temptation to use TV, video games, and tablets as a time occupier. There is no longer a debate about the reality of digital addiction (watch this video from the book/presentation entitled “Digital Cocaine”…yes the irony of watching an online video about digital addiction is not lost on me…). There are now programs to detox children and campaigns to shift our behaviors. Perhaps one of the most destructive things we can do during these weeks is to flood our children’s brains (and our own) with digital distractions.
Turn off the TV (including the news)
Leaving a news station cycling through the same stories over and over creates fear and panic, not information and peace. Get your news from credible fact-delivering sources, NOT commentary stations. (FYI… CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News are mostly commentary)
Stop scrolling through social media
Between the misinformation and the highly emotional nature of people’s posts, you are bearing an emotional and intellectual burden you don’t need to bear. It is not helpful. Yes, social media is the social norm for connecting. Place limits on yourself regarding the time spent. Be intentional with your use. Mindless scrolling isn’t beneficial.
Video Games are designed to be maximally stimulating. Your children will be bored with everything else.
Video games use “variable ratio reinforcement” to keep the players engaged. It is the same structure as gambling. It is the most addictive form of reinforcement. Please don’t let your kids binge video games during this break!
Even “educational” games have been proven to be highly addictive. They are almost like the “gateway drug” of the video game world. You think it is a positive thing, but eventually, your brain will go wherever it can to get that stimulus. Since most of the detox programs show that outside time is most effective, perhaps a good rule of thumb would be: “Video game time may not exceed outside time.” That keeps things balanced.
As the days and weeks unfold, we will do our best to give you even more information and ideas. Please keep in touch and let us know how we can serve you. Our prayer is that your family will be strengthened by this trial.