The Chatter

Tips for Staying Sane While Quarantined With Kids

Make a schedule, get outside, and other ways to adjust to the new normal.

This has been the longest—checks calendar—three days, said every parent everywhere.

As we all adjust to our new normal (working from home and homeschooling), it’s okay if we are not thriving at both. It takes time.

Thanks to social media, I have seen everything from a friend who has created a virtual school in her home (with a school motto, strict schedule, and desk) to those who are like, “how do I log onto Schoology?” I’m somewhere in the middle.

I know in my gut this “Coronoa-cation” will stretch beyond the two weeks, so I’ve allowed my kids a slow ease into this new mindset. As a friend reminded me, this is a loss and adjustment for them, too.

Sure, the thought of unlimited video games (we’re not quite there yet) and late bedtimes (we are there) sounds appealing, but I know they are missing their friends, routines, teachers, and classes.

It’s okay to feel sad for them even though we know it’s for the greater good. It’s okay to be angry that the school play is probably canceled, as well as the spring concerts (which I had won front row tickets for at a school fundraiser!) and the annual amazing art show, and the pool party for fifth grade graduation. They might sound insignificant, but they create a childhood, a memory block.

I woke up this morning realizing my daughter’s IEP evaluation, pre-middle school, which we carefully orchestrated, isn’t happening. Twelfth graders won’t get to go to prom or be named valedictorian. Life is canceled.

For my kids, that means no soccer, lacrosse, Lego club, and green team. Just last week, as my other kids roller-skated around our elementary school, my son, Zeke, was giving me the rundown on what every third grader does at recess. So and so always plays soccer. These kids always go on the slides. Zeke named the friends that “run a sushi restaurant.” “I’m the manager,” he told me. And just like that…there’s no more school. No more play dates. No more playgrounds.

So what are we doing to stay sane? Well, here are a few resources I have found helpful as I navigate this new world with my four kids.

Make a Schedule That Works for You

If you want a daily schedule, make one. Zeke insisted on writing one up yesterday. (I talked him down from two hours of math.) Dismissal is from “3:33 p.m. until the next morning.” His twin, Gideon was like, “Nah. I don’t need a schedule.” Do what works best for your family. So far we’ve been doing a little bit of schoolwork in the morning and then a family hike/walk in the afternoon.

Get Outside

Right now we are able to leave our homes, so we have been taking long walks. Some favorites: Lake Roland, Double Rock Park Trail, NCR Trail (great for biking, too), hikes around Oregon Ridge Nature Center, and Cascade Falls Trail at Patapsco Valley State Park. Yesterday we ended up in Daniels, Maryland, straddling the Patapsco River.

There are some abandoned (read: haunted) buildings and a beautiful waterfall. The main lot was filled, so I ended up at a secondary lot, which in retrospect was probably not the secondary lot I was looking for. We ended up walking on train tracks for a mile or two before finding the area we were looking for. We used saw animal bones on the track, found old railroad nails, and conquered a few fears. It felt lesson-ish.

Take Advantage of Virtual Resources

The Internet is your friend. I have seen and saved countless posts, from virtual field trips to “15 Broadway Plays and Musicals You Can Watch On Stage From Home” to #OperationStoryTime, in which beloved children’s authors are reading stories and posting to Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. And thanks to Cool Progeny—another amazing resource—I heard about Mo Willems offering a daily Lunch Doodle, in conjunction with the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, through the end of the month.

Locally, Ashley Battersby, a math resource teacher in Baltimore County (and full-disclosure, a favorite babysitter of ours) has been posting videos of her reading math picture books, sharing a math game, or teaching math strategy on her YouTube channel. Additionally, Trevor Twist, artist and owner of Mitchell School of Fine Arts in Mt. Washington’s Coppermine Fieldhouse, is offering his youth art classes via virtual Zoom meetings for the time being.

Also, local libraries are offering digital options such as e-books for kids, movies, and e-magazines. (If you don’t have a library card you can sign up for an e-card in Baltimore County and Baltimore City.)

I have a few friends that home school and they have also been posting resources. This is one of the best ones I’ve seen. It’s literally hundreds of free educational resources including space stuff, math and reading games, SAT prep, foreign language lessons, and even Carmen Sandiego (glad to see she is still around) stories and videos.

Ask a Teacher

Our wonderful teachers have all made themselves available over our classroom app and email to answer questions and offer resources. I have also seen countless teacher friends posting that they are accessible for Facebook questions or guidance offline. It lists their area of expertise and areas they can help. (And can we just take a minute to acknowledge how amazing teachers are.)

Most importantly, be kind to yourself. We are all doing the best we can. (Completely unrelated: Are liquor stores still open?)