Working at home with kids certainly has its challenges. With current circumstances I know there are many parents who are grappling with how they will get any work done without the use of screens as baby sitters. While dire times certainly call for drastic measures, we have been putting our heads to how we can support our families to balance the screen time with other activities that give kids a shot of dopamine when they accomplish something.
Develop a Routine
With your children, work out how the day will happen. Identify in advance when is the best time for you to work and then put in some blocks in that time and around it: creative, school work time, screen time, jobs, backyard and mummy or daddy time. In all of our workshops we set a “How do we work together” chart, e.g. “What do we need to do to make sure we can all get what we need done?” That may be as simple as talking about what needs to happen when they need to speak to mummy during her work time and what they can do.
To set yourself up for success:
Schedule in a few blocks of quality time with your kids throughout the day. This is a time when your children know that you will play with them. It means no interruptions so put the phone away – no peeking or quickly checking email. Don’t make this a time where you do a house chore and they talk to you. Put a timer on and let them know what is happening and when it finishes.
Be prepared – have activities and ideas ready. A lot of mums tell me that their children don’t like art. However, from my experience when children are given the opportunity to create with invitations to play they quite literally relish it. These can be as simple as some playdough with a collection of small objects. Adding some wool or leaves and twigs to the playdoh table adds a really interesting twist.
Make a boredom buster chart or a jar. With your children come up with a list of ideas of things they can do on their own. We have put together a list of ideas here. Write these down on pieces of paper or put in a jar. When kids are bored get them to choose one at random.
Keep in Touch – In the current climate of social distancing, there are lots of way to keep in touch and be kind to members of our community
- Draw a picture, card or a letter to send to a local nursing home.
- Face time Grandparents – can read stories etc. Ask them about their childhood
- Make a missing you card for someone from school
- Teach your brother or sister something you know
- Send a friend a Thank You card.
If they need a nudge maybe offer a reward (an extra half hour of parent time perhaps) to keep their eye on the prize and increase the chance of success.
And now for the reality
Kids will start an activity very enthusiastically and then come to you when they make a mistake or are worried it is not perfect. While we know there is no right or wrong, sometimes kids don’t. Encourage them to make mistakes and be curious. In art there is no right or wrong. Praise for effort they have made MORE than the finished product. “I love the way you used lots of different colours” vs “You are so clever by colouring in the lines.”
The other common issue is that after five minutes children will tell you they are finished so they can start another activity. How you approach this will set you up for success. If you say “That looks great, start another “you could be setting yourself up for a very disrupted day. Not to mention running out of supplies very quickly. The trick is to coach them to keep going. If they have drawn a lone figure in the middle of a piece of paper you could ask “Where is the person? “Are they at a beach or a park?” What is in that place? What colours etc.? If there is lots of white space you could ask how could you make your drawing interesting?”
Resist the urge to jump in and rescue. It may save five minutes but they will be back again asking you for another idea.
Strength Heroes have come up with fun and engaging art kits and projects that they will deliver to your door. These activities they have tried and tested in their workshops. Designed for children aged 5+ but perfect for younger ones to do with an older