THRIVING IN THE STORM: Activities and Inspiration For Families With Kids While Under Corona Virus Quarantine

Family Portrait by Cindie Wolf

“Sometimes an unexpected turn in life leads to the biggest blessings”.

Life On Your Own Terms

Are you worried about how this Corona virus is going to affect you and your family, business or job? If so, you are not alone. And if you are working from home or just home with your kids, well, we all know that can be stressful. But here is the good news, it all really depends on you and how you handle it. If you want to take this opportunity as a teaching moment and you’d like to inspire your family to draw closer together and grow, let me offer you some suggestions. As a former trainer, a mother and a grandmother, I have compiled a list of these skills that we used with my own family. And really, what a great opportunity for you and your family to connect and come closer together. When this is all over, what do you want them to say about it?

Remember, you are not competing with their normal teacher. You are so much more than this and can teach them in a fun, and practical way where learning won’t be boring or someone just lecturing. You can show them the joy and excitement there is ahead.

Below are some ideas to keep your head straight and help you with what you’ll be doing.

KEEP IT SIMPLE…

You know the strength and weakness of every family member and the family as a whole. Is there something you’d like to see changed? If so, start with the end in mind: When this is all over, list three things you want to have changed in your home. This could easily be:

  1. Have Family Meetings to:
    1. Talk about our family values
    2. What we want to change about our house (paint, rooms, etc)
    3. Talk about our goals (academic and family vacation)
  2. Divide household and education tasks
    1. create family schedule
    2. follow it as close as you can and adjust
    3. know when it’s time to work and time to play-both are important
  3. Plan our family dinner and movie night
    1. weekly choices
    2. everyone contributes
    3. fancy or casual

These are just ideas and it’s really up to you and your family…

HAVING AND KEEPING A SCHEDULE

According to the Mental Health professionals the easiest way to keep life as normal and healthy is to keep a schedule. They say having and keeping a routine can help us cope with change, form healthy habits, and reduce our stress levels. They also say having a routine can “anchor” us. In the midst of all the fear driven change we are in, it’s a good idea to create an optimistic normal at home.

Having a schedule with tasks to do, within a time frame that shows completed tasks can also make moms and kids feel productive and successful. The goal is to create a schedule that allows for things to do (napping/quiet time, school work, home management, etc. ) while listing out what needs to be done, who does it and what happens next. As you create and work on your schedule, make sure to allow and adapt for what does and doesn’t work. To keep this simple, I have created a schedule from what used to work for me. You can find it HERE

Confidence and Important Jobs

Once your schedule is done, make sure to engage your children with the responsibility of helping with important jobs like putting away their own laundry, making sure all toys are put away at the end of the day, sweeping the floor. The more you include your children with everyday responsibilities, the more you prepare them for the days of entering into adulthood. Starting young is so important while their desire to please is high and you can still make everyday chores somewhat playtime with them.

For families with older kids try holding a family meeting and talk through what you want to and have to complete during the quarantine.  Let the older kids take lead on turning your schedule into a work of art with color, that’s how my oldest daughter always does life!

You can check out more Mom Blog information HERE and HERE

SOCIAL TIME

With everyone 65 and older being asked to stay in during these times, considering pairing your children and grandparents together for Facetime calls. Schedule these calls and make sure to prime your parents with ideas to talk about with your children. I always have a better time on the phone with my youngest grandson when we go over “knock, knock jokes”.

We are more engaged when I ask him what he is interested in and then talk to him about it, after I investigate it. Of course, for younger children, it will probably be shorter conversations, but that’s where having cousins and friends to connect to can be a great idea. And scheduling these calls of who and when the calls will be made makes it something to look forward to for everyone. There might be an opportunity for your parents to read a story to your younger kids while online and of course, show the pictures. This is good for both grandparent and child. The child’s imagination runs wild designing the characters being described in the story, and your parent may the time and the heart to do something like this…

Apps like Facetime or Zoom would be great for this. I suggest using something larger than your phone so the engagement level will be higher.

TREASURE HUNTS AND SCAVENGER HUNTS

My husband was the best at this idea! Every year our grandkids would come to visit, he would make a treasure map and bury it outside in the yard. He would take the kids outside to help him dig in the yard (for some reason) and they surprisingly dig up the treasure map. Every time they would find a map, it would show where the next clue could be found, and with each clue, they would know where to go next. They would have to count steps, dig something up, swim across the pool  or climb a tree to find out what happens next. In the end, there was always a buried treasure to dig up. My husband even went so far as to buy on amazon or build a small wooden box, then burn the edges and beat on it to make it look old.

Inside our treasure boxes were chocolate coins, quarters and dimes, arrow heads and other “kid adventure stuff” as my husband would call it. It was always exciting to watch how serious they were in doing everyting exactly like the map said. And of course, it was wonderful to see their excitement when they found and opened the treasure. Not sure how to make a Treasure Map? Look HERE:

The same applies for Scavenger Hunts and if you look online or make your own, both are great. Not sure how to make a scavenger hunt? Check this out HERE

Life is all about making memories in the midst of learning important life lessons. Think about the possibilities of what you can do.

LIFE SKILLS

COOKING

Teaching self-reliance and life skills can come in a form of play with quite a tasty reward. I loved Home Ec. in school because I got to eat what I made, and my class was always after lunch.  This is a great time to go over

  • How to plan a menu for a week
  • How to shop or look in your cupboards for the menu you are planning
  • How to meal prep
  • How to cook
  • How to clean up and eat up
  • How to count calories (if you’re ambitious)

Is your child learning fractions or how to measure? What better way then to teach them about this then to be cooking with them. This is especially true for boys! Every time my grandsons come to visit the first thing they ask me is if we can bake. 🙂 They love doing this together (I watch) and once the items are in the oven, they lick the pots and spoon…and wash them of course.

Just search cooking with kids recipes on pinterest.. or click HERE:

LEARN OR TEACH YOUR KIDS HOW TO SEW

Back to life skills again… and these are so important. A great way to teach self-reliance is by learning how to fix a loose button. Why throw away the outfit if all it needs is a few stitches? Don’t know how to do this? Google has a super easy video just for this. Once you can fix a button, try teaching your older child how to fix a rip in the seam by hand stitching a seam… super easy and saves you money on clothes. Want more help with this? Click for this youtube by clicking HERE

EDUCATION

You have probably now taken on all the Academics for your child since schools have been closed. Remember, you are mom, and you have the power of making this time fun and interesting. You are not the school teacher, BUT, your kids learn more from you than anyone. The following are some suggestions to help you out during this time.

Walt Disney Imagineering Partners with Khan Academy to Bring You “Imagineering in a Box” ‘Imagineering in a Box’ is a free online program that brings together the diverse talents of Disney Imagineers around the world for a one-of-a-kind learning experience and is part of Disney’s commitment to helping today’s youth create the future they imagine. 

The series offers 32 videos in which Imagineers share how they use a wide range of skills – from story development and conceptual design, to math, physics and engineering – to create immersive experiences. The online curriculum aims to ignite curiosity, inspire creativity, and encourage innovation in the minds of students and teachers alike, while creating fun and engaging opportunities to explore new concepts.

Modules range from a tutorial on engineering software to an interactive exercise where learners are encouraged to gather items around them and create something new. The program’s hands-on components will allow students to relate new concepts to real-world examples to bring treasured Disney stories to life. Each activity is designed to be scalable, allowing individuals to learn on their own or in a classroom setting.   You can check it out HERE

Art for Kids Hub This is a family youtube channel that loves doing art together. Great for all ages (they have 4 kids of varying ages) and they show you how in a positive environment. Great for all ages, check them out HERE

Scholastic: Missing school isn’t easy and you might be one of the mom’s having trouble with what the school sent home for you to work on. No matter, here at Scholastic online, they are making their materials available for you to keep kids reading, thinking and learning.  From PreK to 9th grade. You can find more information HERE:

Virtual School Activities: This HUGE collection of sites of live webcams, virtual tours/trips, and other miscellaneous fun educational sites.  (This site is updated every few days, so to see the latest links be sure to refresh the site if you’re a return visitor!) Thanks to the contributions and ideas of many, what began as a Google Sheet with ideas for virtual schooling during this 2020 crisis has blossomed into this website. If you have ideas for other places to virtually visit, or fun/educational goodies to use while virtually schooling, please feel free to add your idea by emailing me via the contact section toward the bottom of this page. You can check it out HERE

Professional Photographers of America: this premier membership website for professional photographers have opened up their educational website for everyone who wants to learn photography during the Corona quarantine. Based on science and art, photography is a wonderful way to get your older child engaged with the world. You can check this site out HERE

Reading: You know how important it is and how much they enjoy it. Depending on your kids ages, try and find a mystery (Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys depending on ages) for deductive reasoning or something different to get all your kids engaged. Have everyone curl up on the couch and read the story together while sharing the reading portions. Because it’s a mystery and there is suspense everyone will want to know what happens next.

Find something that isn’t scary, but is adventurous, turn off the lights at night while in a circle and alternate reading who reads the story tonight… use a flashlight on the book for light and if you have a fireplace, light it up. Everyone comes with a pillow and blanket to make it all more fun. Don’t forget a snack if you can.

Science And Indoor Activities: Mommy Poppins is a website filled with plenty to do for kids based by Age, Things To Do, and Family Fun in New York (NYC) She has 63 East Schience Experiments for Kids Using Household Stuff and 50 Rainy Day activities. It’s in NYC, so great fun to see! For more activities check out this HERE

Ox Bow Bend, Teton National Park by Cindie Wolf

Geography & National Parks:

Here are some National Parks I have been to and loved:

  • Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico: I was there last year and it was spectacular. HERE
  • Yosemite: HERE
  • Bryce Canyon, Utah: HERE
  • Hawaii Volcanos, Big Island: HERE
  • Glacier National Park: HERE
  • Kenai Fjords, Alaska: HERE
  • Teton National Park & Yellowstone: HERE
Yellowstone National Park Bison by Cindie Wolf
Yellowstone National Park by Cindie Wolf

NOT SURE WHERE TO START?

For some Moms, the easy thing to do might be to make a SWOT analysis either for the family overall or to individualize this for each child and yourself. A SWOT analysis is just listing out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats you see. As Mom, and General Manager of your home, you are the perfect person to do this! You can find the form with just a few short questions to fill out HERE To download, click on the lower right arrow

No matter what you do during this time, I hope you embrace the opportunity to draw closer to your children while encouraging them to draw closer together to each other. We raise our children to be best friends because they are the ones who have a history to share. And someday really soon, they will be telling the story of how your family handled the Corona Virus Quarantine.

If you have any questions, just let me know 🙂

the Thrill of Hope

…….a weary world rejoices

Have you ever noticed how the world comes alive around Christmas? Strangers we run into at the mall or out at night, everyone is polite, caring, smiling. Christmas brings out the good in us and as moms, we have this extra special opportunity to teach our children not only what is happening within Christmas, but what they can do as well.

Here are five simple lessons you can teach your children about the attitude of Giving at Christmas.

  1. Christmas is about being kind! It’s not about buying gifts to wrap as much as it is about giving the gifts of a smile, saying hello or Merry Christmas to strangers. It’s about our attitude and realizing no matter how old we are, we all have the power to bring joy to another’s day, just by what we say. To connect with others all we have to do is “use our words”.  So say Merry Christmas to the grocery clerk when checking out. Look at and Say Merry Christmas to the person ringing the Salvation Army bell. Say Merry Christmas to all those you come across and let the love of this season shine through you, just by saying a simple phrase.
  2. Christmas is about being together! During the holidays I always tried to bake more because it was something I could do with my children. We made cookies, cakes, breads, candies. It was so fun to do together. It was fun to see the final products all decorated and beautiful. It was fun to have works of art that could be eaten just everywhere in the house.
  3. Christmas is about making your own gifts-you know, using your own two hands! When we baked, cut paper snowflakes or made ornaments, we always made sure to make many to give as gifts. This made great gifts for neighbors, the mailman, teachers and people at work. Many times my girls would give a simple gift of something they made to an elderly neighbor or someone at a facility and feel proud that they made this with their own hands and imaginations. Then when they saw the look of the person they gave the gift to, they would feel proud again. It was easy to reinforce by me telling them, they just gave a gift of love.
  4. Christmas is about singing. I can’t count how many times we would walk the halls of a hospital, rehab facility or retirement center all dressed up singing Christmas Carols. All the elderly or injured would sit up in bed and smile. Those that could, would come out to the common room to hear us singing. The joy it brought to the faces of those who listened to the children singing was amazing. This made my children sit up straighter, sing louder and lovingly be able to walk up and offer those listening a hello or Merry Christmas without being afraid. They got to see the joy that came to the faces of strangers they were singing to and feel that joy themselves.
  5. Christmas is on purpose and for a reason! Through every Christmas play, carol, and story, there was always the purpose of the season to be told. In reading the story of Christmas, my girls knew their life had meaning, they were brought forth and called by God to be on the earth at this time in history. By telling the story, again and again, this grounded them on how “on purpose” God was by bringing Jesus through Mary. This translated into the importance of our lives and the lives of those around us. It also translated into the importance of how we treated one another. After all, it was God who said: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”.

Even though my children are grown and gone (one just returned), I read the Christmas story every year. For by telling the story again and again we are reminded that God created us to be His family, this is why Jesus came. Then we can realize that every life on earth has importance and purpose, and we can live our own lives boldly, on purpose too.

By teaching our children these simple joys we really are living out the simple point of purpose too. We instill in our babies the importance of their actions, attitudes and mindset. We teach them that we all have the power to give a kind word or a word of encouragement. We teach them that everything isn’t always about “us”! We teach them that the Thrill of Hope is living in an attitude of kindness, giving unselfishly, giving and using the gifts you have and that life can be lived on purpose and for a reason. And when we live on purpose we bring rejoicing to a weary world.

This Christmas season I wish you all joy as you live in the midst of The Thrill of Hope!