Presidential hopeful Joe Biden shared a story this week on MSNBC about an encourager. His friend told him that his daughter’s kindergarten teacher called all her students and asked them to be at the door at a certain time that day. She was going to drive by, wave and give them a “shout” to let them know how much she missed each every one of them. It was a three-hour trip for that teacher – all to make her students feel better somehow. To help them feel a little more normal. Seeing someone that was a part of their daily life that was so abruptly stopped – and to confirm to those children that their teacher was still there, and would see them soon.
Now that teacher is definitely an “encourager”. Someone who inspires others to do something to help.
Right now, with their parents or guardians HOME all day, every day, kids know – even our youngest – that something is up. Throw them a rope and help guide them through this new normal. Be an encourager. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Set a daily schedule
It’s up to us as the adults to establish as much routine as possible around their new days. So, have a family meeting to encourage your kids to come up with a daily schedule. Write it out and post it for all to see. Each daily schedule should include normal chores as well as new educational tasks to be completed. Schedule free time twice a day which will allow kids to decompress their own way. Establish family meetings once a week to look at the daily schedules and see if anybody has new or better ideas. Then revise.
Common Sense Media just published an exhaustive list of free educational resources and activities that can easily be plugged in to a daily educational schedule.
Keep up with your normal routines
Make sure your schedule does not neglect the normal chores your kids have on normal days. Normal routine is calming and reassuring. Make the bed, clear the table, empty the dishwasher, walk the dog. These normal routine chores or tasks will be much harder to reintroduce if you let them slide now. That includes allowance. If you’ve started giving an allowance, keep it going. If you don’t have the cash on hand, go online and print an image of currency (just don’t print both sides!) and use that until you can cover the amount with real cash.
Add a few new opportunities to encourage them to learn and earn. “Make dinner” can be part of a cooking lesson. “Clean the bathroom” a part of a cleaning lesson. “Teach a sibling something new” can be a component of your homeschooling approach. You might even consider taking advantage of all the talent that is home right now. Your kids are likely to know more about technology than you do. So ask them to teach you something new! Set a fair price for completing these new opportunities and pay it out in cash or in extra free time in their schedules.
Free Money Savvy Resources
Here are a few of our own free educational resources that you can print and use with your kids to get them thinking and talking about the choices they have for money.
- Youngest: http://www.moneysavvy.com/assembled/facb_flm.html
- Older: http://www.moneysavvy.com/downloads/ws_are_u_ms.pdf
- Teens: http://www.moneysavvy.com/downloads/ws_omg.pdf
Share the (good) news of the day at dinner
Anyone who has read my blog knows that I am a big fan of family dinnertime. Most parents tell me it is a struggle with all the commitments they have. But we’ve got nothing but time for that family dinner now. So, use it as a place to talk about what is happening in the news. Ask your kids to first tell you what they have heard – it will give you a good insight into what they are thinking about, what you may need to discuss more or correct and help them deal with.
Stay age-appropriate with your messaging – but keep it honest. And while you are at it – if money is now tight, as it is for many, talk about what the family can cut back on during these days. Giving kids an opportunity to help cut costs will allow them to feel like a part of the family solution.
And don’t forget to share the good news in the news! People are sharing and caring. Find a story to share each night – it will encourage kids to focus on the encouragers in the world outside their own homes.
We all have more TIME right now than we normally have with our kids. So we need to use it wisely. Because when this pandemic lifts, and it will, everything will start to happen at the speed of light. We may even find we are looking back on this time at home fondly. When things were slower.
Every parent, medical professional, senior, single, kid – they all need encouragement to get through this wildly unpredictable time. I know I do.
We’ve got to trust people now. We’ve got to hand over the wheel to others. We cannot be prepared enough or stocked up enough right now to protect ourselves and our loved ones enough from this virus. It actually will “take a village” to get through this moment in time.
So, that means we have to have faith. Faith in today and then tomorrow and then the next day. We need to take solace in the health care system that keeps showing up every day. The helpers, the firefighters, police, military, government workers, grocery store workers, pharmacy people – they all still have our backs. And that’s so encouraging.