March 16: Managing Time Away from School
Updated: Aug 18, 2020
Several parents have reached out to ask about screen time. Realistically, most parents will need to be more flexible about screen time over the coming weeks. I recommend adjusting your Family Media Plan accordingly and clearly communicating your family rules in advance so that everyone is on the same page. Remember that games that involve creating are preferable to games where children are passive. While often it is helpful for parents to watch shows and play games with their children, at the present time it is more realistic to acknowledge that parents working from home will need to judiciously use screens to entertain children when both parents are engaged with other responsibilities. Please remember to practice self-compassion and release any guilt you have about this – when the world returns to some semblance of normal, many families will need to engage in a ‘digital re-set’.
Depending on the age of your children, a helpful plan to consider might be for everyone in the family to think about learning a new skill or acquiring a new set of knowledge during this time of social distancing. Some examples: learn to knit, bake bread, meditate, do origami, speak Spanish, play the ukulele, choreograph a dance, play a certain song on the recorder, or shoot more accurate free throws. Family members could choose one author and try to read everything that person has written, learn all of the state capitals, or learn about sports nutrition. Since we will all be having a lot more family meals over the next few weeks, meal time might be a good opportunity to share updates on what each family member is learning or practicing.
A great suggestion offered by one family is to have each child plan, prepare, and cook a meal for the family each week. Preschoolers can prepare a simple lunch with some parent support, while older children might be up for the task of making a whole dinner.
I want to reiterate the importance of getting outside every day, preferably twice a day, and incorporating other movement breaks into your days. Going for bike rides and taking a nature walk and looking for signs of spring around your yard are two simple ways to be outdoors. Consider painting some rocks with bright colored paints then playing a simple treasure hunt game in which one child or parent hides the rocks around the yard and someone else finds them.
Here is a brief guide from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network about helping families cope with the pandemic.