We are grandparents taking care of our 1- and 4-year-old grandchildren through this pandemic. We could use some help figuring out how to make it through the day with small kids at home. What should we be doing to make this time manageable?
Wow, grandparents of the year! I’m sure your children appreciate you stepping in like this.
You are not alone in wondering how to get through the days. There are many parents out there right now who are wondering the same thing. Many parents are in an unusual (for them) situation of caring for their children all day and every day. No daycare, no school. And to top it off, many parents are also trying to work from home. It’s helpful to remember that everyone is dealing with the same challenges right now and to give yourself some grace.
In terms of daily life with children at home, I like to think of structure in terms of “buckets.” A bucket is a category of activity. Every day we do at least one thing that falls into each bucket. Which buckets to include takes a little thinking and planning on your part. What is important to you and non-negotiable?
Buckets include things like exercise, fresh air, reading time, independent play, chore time, schoolwork and social connection. These will be different depending on your family and your values. You might make a schedule if you are a schedule person. At the very least, I recommend using the bucket approach to give your life with children at home a sense of routine and predictability. Children need predictability to feel safe and secure. Use 3-5 buckets to provide a framework for your day and refer to them when discussing the day with your child.
Finally, make sure to schedule some time for yourself. What do you need to do to stay grounded during this unprecedented time? Give yourself so much compassion. This is hard. It includes forgiving yourself for letting the kids have more screen time than you would normally be okay with. If we are to get through this with grace, we need to remind ourselves that these are not ordinary times. If you can, comfort yourself with the bright side of more time spent as a family. When things go back to normal, it’s possible we just might miss these days.
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Sarah Rosensweet is a peaceful parenting coach and parenting advice columnist for Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 13, 16, and 19). Sarah teaches parents a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Enjoy your kids again! Find her at sarahrosensweet.com