It’s week 4 of this COVID-19 life and I’ve been thinking a lot about what you need right now. I can give you all the free meal plans, the picky eating strategies, and food exploration activities. But as a mom of three young children, I know that’s not really what you need. So I wanted to tell you how I’m surviving self-isolation with kids at home – every day.
Listen, I see all the amazing activity and homeschool schedules floating around (you people are my heroes!). And honestly, I’ve done virtually none of it. Because, this still feels temporary to me! Like really? Life can’t possibly stay like this for much longer right? So I’ve been operating with that in mind (even if it’s not true).
I’ve always measured my personal worth based on how much I accomplish in the day.
Note: I don’t recommend this!! (haha).
I am trying to let go of that side of me over the next few weeks (months?) and be OK with the fact that my girls aren’t doing homework on a set schedule right now. And I am! I’m also totally at peace with the fact that it’s 12pm and I’m writing this in my PJs. While my kids are playing outside in theirs. We’re winging it a bit based on what everyone is feeling and it seems to be working ok (for now). Anyone else?
What’s helped me is setting expectations LOW.
I always have an expectation based on what I see my friends, colleagues, or complete strangers are doing on social. If they have a theme of the day for their kids, I should too! If they are on a homeschooling schedule, we definitely should be! All the while I needd to tackle my work to do list, feed the family 5 times a day, and be an amazingly present parent (because hey, aren’t we soooooo lucky that we have all this time with our kids now?!).
It’s unrealistic to think that we can do it all. Especially when we’ve been thrown a curveball without childcare, with no time to plan for it. It was like, here you go: now you get to be everything to your family all at once – an amazing mom, a creative cook, a skilled teacher, and maybe manage your career at the same time.
It’s not possible. Not if the goal is surviving self-isolation with kids in the house for weeks.
You and I are NOT superwomen (even if our kids would like to think so).
No one is judging you. In fact, it’s refreshing to see parents who are admitting that life is messy right now. It gives me permission to be ok with the fact that my 2.5 year old has cashew butter on her face and is walking around in her diaper. And that there are toys on the ground (all the time).
Because with 3 kids, what else would one expect?
Here I am on one of my walks: business on the top, PJs on the bottom.
For now, if we get outside twice a day and the girls are having fun, I’m winning. If I’m having fun, it’s a really good day. If I get through a Mealtime Rescue Discovery Call with only two interruptions, I’m also winning (p.s. you’re welcome to book a complimentary call with me here).
There are a few really simple things I am doing to ensure I’m surviving self-isolation with kids at home. I wanted to share these ideas with you in case it helps make your week go a little smoother. Because if you’re anything like me, you’re trying to do more than humanly possibly and I won’t let you!
How I am surviving self-isolation with kids:
(1) At the end of the week, set out 3 things you want to accomplish for the next week:
- One for you: daily walks, in bed by 10pm, showering (haha), video calls with friends, gratitude journal, etc.
- One for your kids: reading time, cook with your kids, get them outside once a day, etc.
- One for your work (or household): write email to X, make one new healthy snack (like these Black Bean Brownies), etc.
Then put it in your calendar and share it with your partner. Also post it somewhere visible so you can see them. Tell your kids too, so they know what to expect.
(2) At the end of the day, set out 3 things you want to accomplish for the next day:
Looking at your weekly goals pick 1-3 things you can do each day. Keep them simple. And make sure they are in your calendar (see next tip). Here’s what it was for me today:
- For me: Go for a bike ride/run with Sienna (she’s learning how to stop on her own).
- For the kids: Do Cosmic Yoga.
- For work: Write this blog post.
This way, when the day is done and I look at my simple list I feel pretty darn good about myself. Sure I’ll likely do more on some days (maybe less on others) but three is more achievable vs 10 right?
(3) Schedule things at the right times.
When my kids are napping, or self-entertained, or have their screen time, I use that window to something that requires more thinking. Usually work or paying bills, getting more complicated meal prep done, scheduling one of my families for Private Mealtime Coaching, or writing a blog post.
While the kids are playing (very loudly) around you, do things that require less focus that folding the insane amount of laundry. Or chopping veggies and emptying the dishwasher. Don’t forget that your kids have hands and can do more than you might expect. When I consult schools I see children doing amazing things! The toddlers at Boardwalk Montessori were setting tables and at Westside Montessori, they were making their beds and sweeping their food spills off the floor!
So I’ve been asking the girls to do the same and each takes a turn setting the table for dinner. (see above). That also means they end up being the first one at the table eating as well. Especially on takeout evenings and when it’s pizza. Haha.
Yesterday, I had them to help me with peeling carrots for our Gluten-Free No-Sugar Carrot Muffins. It saved me 5 minutes, but occupied them for 20. Double win!
(4) Meal plan with your kids.
It’s something that will release some pressure for you, having a general plan for your food. But also getting the kids involved (my 4 year old was helping me do this) gives them a sense of control. All the while they are learning about food, the days of the week, the meals of the day, etc. And at the end, you’ll have a plan for the week. I love having themes for each day to help remove the food mental clutter, and the kids love helping me come up with those ideas.
- Mexican Monday
- Try Something New Tuesday
- Italian Wednesday
- Takeout Thursday
- Fishy Friday
You can plan themed music and even dress up if you feel inspired!
(5) Keep expectations low (and realistic)
Most importantly, remember that you are human and can’t be everything to everyone at all times. Nor do it all. And when it comes to your child’s eating, OF COURSE they are going to be harder to feed. This is new for them and they likely have no idea what’s going on. Or if they do, your kids are a little scared. Why aren’t they seeing their friends? Naomi asked me the other day if the virus was still going to be here on her birthday and when she could see her grandparents.
So behaviours are going to be all over the place, there may be a blimp in their food choices. But you can get ahead of it and use this time to set up a meal routine and a consistent feeding approach. Because kids thrive on structure, it will be important to stick to the same apporach so they don’t get confused and you don’t get frustrated.
If you need help with a mealtime plan I’m here for you.
I’m hoping this will give you a bit of a release in the meantime.
But let me know what you are doing to survive self-isolation with your kids at home.