With the reality of being confined for an extended period of time due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), I have seen many, many resources being shared with ways to keep our children engaged and learning.
Check out our mega list of indoor, home activities or Google search “online resources COVID-19” to get a great list of ideas if you are still looking. Here is what came up for me. I appreciate these tips and tricks. It is good to have ideas for when our children utter that familiar phrase, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.”
However, I don’t believe that phrase truly means what we hear.
I think it means they’ve lost the energy to think creatively. Maybe they don’t feel supported to pursue their own ideas. Maybe they don’t have the tools and supplies they need to make their ideas real. Maybe they want you to spend time together and to re-connect. Maybe they are worried about what is happening in the world.
What if, instead of scheduling out each day we are isolated due to COVID-19, we allowed our children to reach this state of boredom? What’s the worst that could happen?
It’s true. Some children have special needs where they must have extra support. Some children don’t have access to resources that meet their basic needs. Some children will fall behind on the educational journey that our society has determined to be what they need when they become adults.
Children do still need these supports.
I also understand that some families don’t have the ability to stop working so they can spend their time at home. Or parents can work from home, but they need to work and not entertain their children all day.
This is an unprecedented time in our world. We truly have no idea what the next day, week, month, or even years to come will bring.
I think we might all be experiencing some level of grief and anxiety over the unknown. That makes sense. The unknown is scary. And scary things cause us to do anything we can to control our surroundings. Including our children.
Maybe these resources and schedules are our way of doing whatever we can to not be afraid and worried.
Maybe our children are scared and nervous, too. Maybe what they need most is for us to be with them. To sit and talk about these feelings.
What if we discussed our feelings and discovered a plan together? What if the children created a plan for their days instead of the adults deciding what they should do? I know my children are considerably more invested in their own ideas than anything I can think up for them.
We can’t let our children absorb our fears, but we can share that we have them, too.
Age-appropriate discussions create the best kinds of connections. Children can feel alone or confused when adults seem so different from them. Yes, adults are dealing with much bigger decisions and fears, but we can relate to the feelings children may be experiencing.
Focus on what you can do together instead of what you can’t control in a way that allows children to have some of that control we all crave as humans in times of the unknown.
Maybe, we can all practice letting go of some of the rules we so often strive to perfect.
- Let’s have fun meals instead of making sure they meet all the dietary guidelines.
- Let’s have video game and movie marathons instead of limiting screen time to the recommended amounts.
- Let’s stay up late and sleep in without alarm clocks instead of maintaining a rigid daily schedule.
- Let’s not worry about what we can get done and instead focus on how much we can connect with one another inside our homes and in creative ways.
We can write letters, draw pictures, talk on the phone and video chat with loved ones. We can play board games, create paper dolls or rock gardens, use those craft supplies and don’t worry about the mess.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, give yourself permission to not know the answers, to not be in control right now, to not feel guilty about how you can’t make everything perfect.
If you need to hear it from someone else, I give you permission to take it one moment at a time. And, if you are having one of those moments we all experience, reach out to us. We are here to listen and support you.