The days leading up to Easter usually include train rides to the zoo, drives to the beach, bushwalking, museums, perhaps a few days in a tent, and what ever other free fun we can find in Melbourne. We are an outdoorsy thrill seeking family. And so as we've all found, these last weeks have seen us with much more time on our hands at home. This time is usually spent making mess, living around mess, getting frustrated by mess, and cleaning mess. It's not all Netflix and leisure baking. Even boardgames are a struggle with a 3 year old trying to join in. It's chaos. But it is precious time. Time that has been gifted to us as a family as we join forces with the world to be 'Home Heroes'.
It has taken us almost 8 years of lego-crazed kids but we've finally done what many deem impossible. We store it well. And the way we store it allows our kids play with it in 3 different ways. So how do we do it?
As we've informed the kids about the sickness and death running rampant around the world they want to know (1) that they're going to be ok (2) that Mum and Dad are going to be ok (3) that our older family members are going to be ok, and (4) that they still get ice-cream even though we've run out and aren't planning on going to the shops any time soon.
Bless their juevenile egotism.
If you're in Australia and you have kids you would know those cheeky imaginative sisters Bluey and Bingo well. 'Bluey' is targeted at preschoolers and presents everyday scenes from a loving 'typical' Queensland home. All 3 of our kids ranging in age from 3 to 8 adore the show because it taps into the fun and play of being a kid in a family where the adults (especially Dad) support and engage in play. So it's no surprise that watching this show gives the kids ideas of games to play! Like dodging yoga balls down the hallway, playing 'keeper uppy' with a balloon, or pretending to have a magical xylophone that freezes parents.
But it's not just the kids that get ideas.
This week in our home there's been both aggravated and unaggravated tears as well as hysterical laughter. Cascades of chaos and moments of calm. There's been a lot to manage... Taking stock of the food we have, changing shopping methods, finding new ways for the kids to hit their daily exercise quota, navigating what down time and recharging can look like, and trying to support healthy relationships within our family. Not to mention trying my hand at homeschooling, keeping up with the news, processing pains of many, and thinking through what it looks like to be a good 'neighbour' at this time. Perhaps you can relate!
But it's been the working out of the big needs of little people that has been one of the most challenging things this week. The tears, screams, and abrupt outbursts that signal something is surging! And today, on day 10 I feel I started to hear what they're really saying.
It's all about DISTANCE.
Time to get very familiar with these 4 walls. Ouch. What an adjustment. We live in a humble 3 bedroom house house with 3 very energetic kids. And one of those bedrooms is a dedicated home office space. Time to get creative!
Shops are shut and so it's time to tap into your home's resources. I'm going to run with a series of blog posts on how to make the most of what you have... starting with WINDOWS! These glass walls provide the most amazing backdrop for a warm street display, and now is the time to be proclaiming messages of hope, love, and support. Keep reading to hear about a COVID-19 initiative I have decided to start up called 'Wednesday Windows'.
Screens hold a potent allure to our little ones. It's sobering to consider that screens will most likely be part of every day of their lives on this planet! But as an exhausted parent in need of a slow cuppa (or a scroll on our own screen) - what a tool for a reprieve. And when used in moderation, what a fabulous window into the world. Even today in social isolation we were watching penguins at the Melbourne Zoo and opera in Europe! With some very hard months ahead, I'm not going to write about the negative effects of too much screen time here, but instead share with you how we've chosen to navigate screen time in our household. And how our method has resulted in a cleaner house and kids kicking their personal goals!
Well we made it – week one is done. And what a learning journey for us all so far! I’m happy to announce that after many errors, much reflecting, and tweaking I’ve arrived at a loose daily plan that works for our family. This plan however does look quite different in action, as it would take too much energy from me to ensure everything ran like clockwork! Who needs extra stress right now? And this plan will only work for us – it’s NOT a one fit approach. Family life is so unique in every home. But maybe as you see what we do you’ll find some things you can borrow from. But there are some principles behind this plan, which I want to share with you, explicitly:
As we move along the 'pop up dining room school' journey I'm finding that appropriate resources are key to ensuring smooth and directed learning time. After some reflecting, research, reaching out, and trialling here's my current (and ever evolving) go-to list. May it be a help to you too! Keep in mind these resources have been hand picked for kids tracking at Grade 1 and Grade 3 level in Victoria with a 3 year old 'helper' over our shoulder.
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