A huge thank you to all of the families who contributed to this post!
We cannot take credit for these ideas on how to infuse self-care in your day, create peaceful and restful moments, enhance connections with your children, and inspire engagement in learning. We simply compiled them to share with you.
We recognize the importance of community and with the current realities we face our hope is that this post will serve as a reminder that you are not alone.
There are many ways we can support each other to regain our peace, invigorate our teaching, and strengthen our connections. Here are some ideas that we heard from homeschooling families and we are honored to pass them along to you.
Ways to Take Care of Ourselves
“In order to fit in some self-care while I am with my children, we now do daily workouts together. I have not been able to fit in working out since COVID hit. I work full-time from home and have my children with me. I’ve taught them how to do many of my workout “go-to’s!” For instance, they can now do their version of squats, lunges, push-ups, and tricep dips. We also do a lot of high knees, butt kicks, and pretend jump rope. I put on my workout clothes at some point during the day and just incorporate the workout moves in our play. I feel good because I get a 20-30 minute workout in, and they feel good because they are up and moving, and we are doing it together!” -Hollie (Mom of a 4-year-old and 5 year olds)
“I begin my day with a 5 minute meditation to center myself and I write down one thing I am grateful for. I have a small book where I record these gratefulness reflections. This approach to starting my day gives me a positive frame of mind. I also take a quick walk around our neighborhood before my husband and I trade off being with the kids. This gives me a moment to separate myself from work and to clear my mind before entering into my time with them.” -Mom of a 3-year-old and 5-year-old.
"Parenting is beautiful, messy, rewarding, and exhausting, and it's so easy for us to forget about our needs in the process. In our efforts to be the very best parent we can be, we often put ourselves on the backburners because there's just not enough time or energy left to look after our needs. In response to this, I created the Zen Mama Yoga Deck, (which by the way, is not just for mamas!). It teaches caregivers how to practice yoga and mindfulness WHILE they go about their regular daily routine - while working, cooking, cleaning, looking after children, etc. It also includes sequences to help manage everyday ailments like headaches, back pain, PMS, stress, anxiety and so much more! Here is my Self-Love card that I offer to you below." -Jessica (Mom of 4-year-old twins)
Zen Mama Yoga Deck: Purchase a complete set at https://www.zenmama.ca
Jessica's background: Canadian Yoga Alliance certified Yoga Therapist, Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher), YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider), Certified Meditation Specialist, Bachelor of Education and Honours Bachelor of Psychology.
Recalibrate, Regain Peace & Develop Independence
“Whenever I need to "buy a few moments" to organize myself, or when my little one is a bit antsy and the situation needs him to be still (zoom-time often), I pull out a ziplock bag with my ever-ready "mystery ball." The clay wins for me every time! Modelling clay is stronger than play-dough, so it gives those developing finger muscles lots of practice, and buys me more time. I change up the small objects hidden inside to add some surprise; I keep the "surprise finds" in the bag to have them ready. The dough will stay pliable for many months if kept in a sealed bag!” -Allison (Mom of a 3-year-old & 5-year-old)
“I’ve been doing “Blanket Time” with my 3 year old, where we get out special quiet toys that he only gets during that time and he sits on a blanket to play with them quietly. The entire family joins in with each of us in our own blankets. I bought a Time Timer, so everyone can clearly see how much time we have for the activity. We started out with 2 minutes when he was almost 2, and are now at a full hour!! No one can talk during the time or leave their blankets. It has really stretched my son to play independently and come up with new and different ways to play with the same things. He currently loves using a BIG container of pom poms with different empty containers and kitchen utensils (e.g. whisk, spatula, tongs, ladle). It has brought much needed quiet in the late afternoons, when emotions can run high.” Mom of a 9 month-old and a 3-year-old
“I watch for the plateau spots every three weeks or so....and when I find one of those 'doldrum days' when nothing more seems to be happening, I celebrate with the Plateau Pause! We all get them, and our brains NEED them, but it's easy to forget our little learners brains need those pauses too! When it starts to feel like I'm walking through mud trying to get a lesson to stick, or when I hear my interior dialogue saying "you know this should be easy!", I realize it is time to slow down, pull a game off the shelf, and do no more "school-y" things for the day. The Plateau time is brain "processing, sorting and storing" time....like a frozen computer screen. Rather than keep hitting buttons, it's often best just to give it a few moments to get things organized on the invisible inside.” -Marjie (Grandmother of a 4-year-old)
Enhance Connections with Your Children
"Each day I now write a short note, which acts as an invitation for my children. The note tells them about a cookie & game or puzzle party that is happening in a room in the house. I select a room that we don’t ever use for doing puzzles or games (e.g., daddy's office). I present the invitation in the afternoon when there is a lull in the day that often leads to arguing and fighting. My original go-to was to turn on the TV to settle them down, but I tried this approach instead and it has been wonderful - bringing us together to play in a new and simple way!" -Hollie (Mom of a 4-year-old & a 5-year-old)
“We use a daily journal that my daughter decorated to make her own. At the end of each day (or every couple of days), we reflect together on what went well and what didn’t feel great that day (think roses and thorns). Sometimes she writes it down and sometimes I write for her as she describes the day to me. It is a nice opportunity for us to sit together, connect, and reflect.” -Mom of a 6-year-old
Create & Maintain Engagement in Learning
“For a quick letter-recognition game during car-rides or a pause from screen time, save a 'short size' plastic water bottle (or any clear plastic bottle). Pick up some tiny alphabet beads from the craft section of your local Dollar store, WalMart, Michaels or Amazon. Fill the bottle about 2/3 full with plain white rice. Add the wee alphabet cubes and shake it all up. Screw the top on tight, and tape over it with duct or painters tape to keep it sealed. Print out the alphabet and place the alphabet sheet, the shaker and a marker into a ziplock bag and tuck it beside the car seat. Make one for each child. See who can find all of the letters first!” -Terry (Mom of a 4-year-old & a 6-year-old)
"To ease our way into lessons each day, we roll a dice to select one of my granddaughter's favorites. We pick a category, such as yoga poses, songs to listen to and sing along with, books to read, or animals to draw. We make a numbered list (1 to 6) and she comes up with six possibilities in that category. We write them down and she then rolls a dice to see which number it lands on. We do that one special thing that she loves. This brings even more excitement and engagement to the fun activities ahead. -Ellen (Grandparent of a 6 year-old)
“I know that it can be easier to turn on a TV show for the kids while I get the cooking done for the day, but I am always reminding myself that cooking activities are a wonderful way to work on so many math and language skills. There are opportunities to practice writing words and numbers, following directions, exploring measurement, and these tasks are also a huge self esteem and life skill builder.” -Teressa (Mom of 18-month-old, 4-year-old and 5-year-old)
"To help make transitions more smooth, my son and I “take turns” choosing activities during the day. We alternate what we “play” every 10-15 minutes. We set a timer and when the timer goes off, we stop the activity and do what the other person wants to do for 10-15 minutes. This allows me to embed short learning activities when it is my “turn” and allows him to have ownership over the play as well. Stopping LEGOs to do a quick writing game is a lot easier when he knows that he’ll get a chance to return to LEGOs, or a different activity, when it is his turn." -Katie (Mom of a 5-year-old)
"We read books at meal times! It keeps my kids focused on eating and at the table, sparks good discussion, and settles everyone down a bit. They each get to choose a book before coming to the table which inspires them to come eat and it also ensures that we get dedicated read aloud time each day". -Anne (Mom of a 4-year-old & a 5-year-old)
Stay Strong! You can do this!
Hollie & Katie