6+1 tips on how to stay sane at home with kids – COVID-19 Edition

Hey fellow moms and dads who suddenly work from home, or stay at home.

Now that we are all sitting in the same boat more or less, I wanted to share some of my ideas and suggestions on how to stay sane – especially when you stay at home with little ones. This is written from a KonMari and Montessori inspired perspective, but I am no parenting expert. Plus, I am not a saint and not perfect, nor are my kids. While I am writing this at the kitchen table, I can hear my 3 and 5 year old sons are playing in their bedroom, whispering, laughing, and secretly doing all the things that usually are not allowed J

 

What I’ve learned in the last days, but also read in several Facebook Groups, Chats and messengers, I’m summarizing here and adding my own thoughts, too.

  1. First of all, and extremely important: Make a schedule. Duh. Sounds boring, I know. But when you go to work and your kids to daycare, kindergarden, or school, all of you usually have a schedule that you stick to, so it gives you a bit of “regular daily life”, so to say. Also, kids function much better when they know what to expect from a day and what is going to happen next.

 

  1. Second, and closely intertwined with No. 1, is: Create routines, and stick to them. Some ideas:
    – getting up, having breakfast as a family, and discussing the daily schedule
    – mimicking the daily school run by walking in a park (if you’re allowed to) or dancing to a few songs, or exercising
    – having fixed times for schooling, meals, fun activities, bedtime, and especially TV – keeps the kids from asking if they can watch TV all the time.
    – stick to any promises you made.
  2. Get your kids positively excited! We told our kids that this was an exciting time, a chance to spend lots of time together, and to make some projects (we had to explain what a project is). Then, we sat together as a family and decided on which projects we would have, and wrote them down. Important: Also note who will do these, and when. Build them into your schedule. On our list amongst others: Build a “bee house” for the bees, and make our own little veggie garden in a pot. I also saw someone making a schedule with different themes for each day of the week: “sports day”, “music day”, “arts day” etc.
  3. Figure out your priorities, the things that you need to stay mentally healthy. Make a list of the things you need: eating well, exercising, sleeping, me-time, work. Discuss with your partner and kids, and make sure you’re taking shifts and turns to ensure you get time for this. Maybe not all of them and all the time, but a minimum should be. Also, make sure your partner also gets some of this.
  4. Keep your home as tidy as possible. This does not mean that you should do a full KonMari tidying festival right now, but tidy on your own level that you are at right now. Many families are complaining about the chaos because it drives them insane.
    – discuss with your family which areas each member needs to be tidy.
    – commit to keeping these tidy by putting stuff away right after using it.
    – ask the kids to be the “tidy police” and remind you to put stuff away. This makes them feel that everyone shares the responsibility and might make it easier for you to remind them, too.
    – cut yourself some slack – if your guestroom was never tidy, try not to tidy it up in addition to an 8 hour work shift plus cooking, laundry, and home schooling. Leave that for later.
    – involve your kids: when you clean, or cook, let them participate. It does not have to be perfect, most important thing is, it’s done. Let your toddler wipe anything he wants with a dry rag, or let them wash the counter with soapy water before wiping it yourself. My kids love the vacuum.
    – it helps a lot when you help your kids a bit. Instead of yelling at them to tidy up their rooms, say “let’s tidy up together”. Saves you lots of nerves and yelling, and the kids will work faster. Or make it a game: “Who has his room tidied up first?”
  5. Make a toy rotation. Especially for those who are overwhelmed by the chaos, take away half of the toys, and put them into a closet or elsewhere out of sight. Let your kids play with what’s still out, and after a while (a week of few days), you can exchange the toys. This keeps the toys new and exciting and might buy you some hours.
  6. For the daring people: Take away all toys, and provide lots of material. This can be arts and crafts material, but also bowls, dry lentils, rice or pasta (if you are willing to give these to the kids right now and clean up the mess afterwards), old cardboard boxes, old towels, sheets, etc. Your kids might surprise you!

I hope that his helped you a bit to navigate the daily life at home. If you are at home and not working and actually committed to doing your own KonMari tidying festival, get in touch! I am offering online sessions, too.

Sending you lots of strengths and love, from my space to yours,

Susanne

 

 

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