Updated: May 12
by Cressa Chan
If the MCO had happened a few years ago, I would have gone into panic mode. Not because of the shopping, the extra cleaning that being at home 24/7 would entail, or even the virus itself. It would have manifested itself like this:
“24/7 at home with my girl???? How on EARTH am I going to keep her busy!?”
Hands up, mummies who are going through this right now. Don’t be shy, I know you’re out there… hair frazzled and nerves at wits end.
Thankfully for us, since becoming part of the Acton Academy KL family, my girl and I have developed a few tricks to ease her towards independent self-occupation so that we can more fully appreciate our together times. And … miracle of miracles, we’ve actually gotten closer through it all!
I’ve found that a balance of structure and guidance and just good, plain together-fun, as well as some independent time is the most beneficial. Structure and together time has been especially important right now, because, much as we adults are feeling some level of anxiety and stress about the situation we are finding ourselves in, children are also feeling it, and they might not have the maturity to deal with it and rationalize it out as we do. Being told to stay home and not even being allowed to go down to the playground or pool, not seeing their friends, having their entire routine and rhythm thrown out … it all adds to the stress for them.
Having a schedule to work from with clear goals to achieve will occupy their minds productively and they will end the day feeling accomplished and ready for rest.
Schedules and Meetings and Routines, Oh My!
Planning is one man’s meat, another man’s poison but it truly does help when you want to keep your family occupied and productive at this time when days seem to run into each other. Planning is great to align everyone in your ‘team’ towards each other’s weekly goals.
When do you roll out your plan? Why, at meetings, of course! Family meetings are an
amazing way to plug in with each other, celebrate each other’s triumphs, reflect on areas to be improved and set out your plans for the week. My colleague has his family meetings on Monday nights, keeps them short and sweet and rounds them up with a treat to kick off the week on a good note!
You probably already had a nice little home routine for the weekends, but it’s important to set up a home schedule for you and your children throughout the week right now so that things don’t go out of control and leave everyone cranky, unfulfilled and naggy.
What we do is incorporate my girl’s school schedule together with mine so that our work times coincide as much as possible. We make our schedules as flexible as possible - plotting them out every morning over breakfast - so that they fit both our daily goals while still giving her a sense of structure. We add on 1 or 2 things that she has to complete like chores and work on her e-Children’s Business Fair project. The agreement is that after she has completed her schedule, she can do what she wants, including screen time (more on that later.)
Here are some suggestions for scheduling tools and family meetings.
Home projects are an awesome way to while away the hours and you can spend some
quality time doing them together. Come up with something together … you’d be amazed at some of the cool things children concoct! As much as possible, go with what they suggest and make it happen so that they have a sense of ownership and will invest themselves more fully.
My girl loves her Hatchimals and decided to build them a mansion! Her materials? Recycled stuff from around the house. Thank goodness I recycle and have big bags of goodies for her to pick over! She created the walls out of cereal boxes, a toilet out of a yoghurt carton and a fridge out of a toilet roll. It’s an ongoing project and I’ve become the construction worker, erecting the walls, while she is the interior designer, planning and executing the overall look of the house as well as creating the ‘stuff’ that goes into it. It’s awesome fun and she spends hours on it!
My suggestion for home projects is to keep it simple and use what’s on hand. Of course, keep a lookout for projects you can purchase too. There are some awesome ideas out there like eats, shoots & roots’ planter boxes.
Cooking and Cleaning
You may laugh but this is the perfect time to get your child into helping you around the
house! Even the youngest of young can do something, like sorting and even folding the
clothes (channelling Marie Kondo), or vacuuming and mopping! If you have a robot vacuum you can make it a game … I put my girl in charge of our RC (the name she gave our robot cleaner). She has to clear the floor as much as possible. She also makes sure RC gets all around and doesn’t get stuck, then she cleans it, charges it and puts it to ‘bed’ (back in the box).
Cooking is a great way to create something together … that you can enjoy together!
Obviously, you need to do a lot of preparation so that it’s not a complete disaster and clean up might be crazy later, but it’s well worth the effort. My girl has learned to make pretty good scrambled eggs and French toast with very little help and we’ve made delicious ‘satay’ and mac & cheese together … yum!
Music & Dance
This might take some Zen meditation practise on your (and the family’s) part, or call for an earplug investment, but give your child free rein with a musical instrument sometimes. Let them go crazy! This is a great stress reliever and they might end up spending quite a bit of time creating music. Who knows? It might even spark a passion. And who’s to say you can’t join in and have a bit of a jam together? My girl has a flexible keyboard she can roll out and bang on and we’ve started picking out the tunes of some of her (and my) current favourites like Imagine Dragons.
In lieu of P.E. time, my girl’s been doing children’s dance videos as part of her daily school schedule. These are awesome fun and a great way to get them moving! We’re in an apartment with no access to the downstairs area, so these dance sessions have been
wonderful energy expenditures. And, yes, I do admit I’m right next to her, trying to keep up with the crazy moves. Did I say it’s awesome fun?? Our favourites are Ghostbusters, What the Fox Say, and Wakka Wakka.
There’s something to be said about screen time. Say what you will, it is a form of necessary downtime during which you can veg out and not be productive for a while. It’s all in how you frame it. Letting them watch a bit of TV or YouTube should be OK if you are involved in it with them. Watch it together and have a casual chat about what you watched after. Pick up on a valuable lesson in the story or extend from what they watched … ask them to draw their favourite part, or the part that made them cry … the options are endless.
If they do play games - my girl is super into Minecraft, as is most of the world - let them get creative with it. Slap a time limit on it, though, teach them how to use the timer and stick to it. Again, encourage them to share what they did with you, their best score or whatever it is. My girl loves giving me Minecraft updates and she’s so full of ideas for her next session.
Whatever you plan and hope to achieve, remember that life isn’t perfect and things we set up might not work out exactly how we want it. If this situation has reminded me of anything, it’s to have a plan, but be flexible and go with the flow to a degree. The most important thing is that you are blessed with time with your children … use it to have as much fun together as possible! After all … they say time flies when you’re having fun!
Cressa is the mother of an amazing 9 year old who never fails to astonish her. An educator of 10 years, she truly believes that children can reach heights higher than we allow them to go. Having recently joined the ActonKL family, she’s proud to have watched her girl blossom into a purposeful, resourceful and independent young lady who is truly on a Hero’s Journey.
Do visit Acton Academy KL to see exactly how they inspire each child to find their calling to change the world. And why not have your child participate in the upcoming e-Children's Business Fair and bring out the entrepreneur in them!