OMG, the children are officially off school for an indefinite period. SEND ALL THE WINE. Actually, I’ve had my boys home for a week so I’m a little further ahead than many of you. How do you survive social distancing with your kids? How have we made it work? With tears, tantrums and gritty determination (all on my part). Truth be told, we’ve had fun too.
I’ve decided to (temporarily) rebrand Babes about Town as Babes about the House. Over the coming weeks, I’ll share my favourite tips for making the most of time at home. I’ve been putting together a MAMMOTH resource guide for home schooling and family activities. In the meantime, here are some things I plan to do with my children during self-isolation.
13 Ways to Survive Social Distancing with Your Kids
1. Create a (Flexible) Work/School Routine
If there’s one thing I know as a work-at-home mama, it’s that when your kids are home, they need structure or none of you will make it through. If there’s another thing I know, it’s that you have to be flexible too. I’ve created a basic weekly schedule adapted partly from their regular school schedules, with some wiggle room. As for myself, I’m focusing on doing One Thing every day that’s the most important task or deadline and cutting myself some slack otherwise. For those who are new to social distancing with your kids in tow (some of us call it mum blogging, lol), one top tip to get you in the zone is using noise-cancelling headphones and a good playlist.
2. Teach them to cook jollof rice
Why jollof rice? Because it’s leng, as Ezra would say. Jollof rice is not only the stuff of wars between African countries (Nigerian jollof wins every time), it’s an excellent store cupboard recipe. Actually, my goal is just to teach the children to cook more things for themselves. Ezra can make a mean fry-up but he’s ready to advance to more exciting fare. Jed’s talents extend as far as a ham and cheese quesadilla made in the sandwich toaster (quick and yummy). I want to teach them the basics like how to cook rice, pasta and noodles. How to cook a vegetable soup. How to make a quick stir fry. Mac and cheese and other simple but satisfying dishes. My other plan is to create a DIY recipe kit, where I give them the ingredients and a recipe card and let them crack on.
3. Sort the house out from top to bottom
I’ve been planning a big spring clean and declutter since, well, last spring. So now that social distancing with your kids is a thing, it’s time to get stuck in. We’ll go room by room and throw out loads of junk, redecorate bedrooms, clear out wardrobes and finally organise all that paperwork. And get the back garden in shape for summer. That way, at least we can chuck the boys outside when they’re driving us mad indoors!
4. Read, read, read (and read some more)
Jed and I are about to start Book 4 of the Harry Potter series, my favourite of all. I’ve also got Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance (sequel to Children of Blood and Bones) to read with Ezra. Even when your kids are turning into smelly, hairy young adults, there’s nothing that brings you closer than sharing a favourite story. Abiye has downloaded Brave New World on Spotify, so we’ll have family listening sessions too.
5. Watch ALL the movies
There are so many fantastic films to catch up on if you’re social distancing with your kids and they don’t all have to be PG. Over the years, we’ve watched films rated anything from U to 18 (the Sergio Leone trilogy) with the boys, using our parental discretion. Sometimes we get it wrong (Kick Ass, um, definitely not for younger ones) but mostly we don’t sweat over a little nudity or bad language. It’s part of the school of life. However if you prefer to stick with child friendly films only, you can’t go wrong with our Top 150 Family Movies list, which I’ll be updating soon so keep an eye out.
6. Binge on our favourite family TV shows
One thing we love doing is snuggling up on the sofa and bingeing on a box set. We’ve watched some cracking shows and it’s always fun to discover new ones (recommendations welcome!). A couple of years ago, I created a post around our favourite TV shows to watch with the kids. We’ve got loads more to add to the list, so make sure you check back soon!
7. Play games
Let’s face it, the boys are going to be doing a crazy amount of gaming. No, I’m not bothered. They’re already semi-pro and I expect them to be fully professional and raking in those Fortnite dollars by the time the coronavirus lockdown is over. Jokes (kinda). What I’m talking about here is fun family games like Scrabble, Whot, Pictionary, Lagos Monopoly and Throw Throw Burrito. I’ll have a list of family games in my upcoming post on resources to keep busy during self-isolation.
8. Have conversations in another language
We have a strong French connection in our house, with my stepson being half-French, my in-laws living in France and my husband speaking fluent French. The boys are learning French at school and I’ve decided to dust off my own rusty A-level Français. We’ll start with a 10 minute conversation in French every day. We’ve also downloaded an Igbo language app (my mother tongue) and will aim to practise a phrase or sentence every day.
9. FaceTime Family and Friends
I’ve spent most of my life being separated from close family members in one way or another. Now it feels more pressing than ever to communicate with loved ones however we can. We’re lucky that video calling is free and accessible to most of us and we plan to have group video chats with friends and family, both locally and across the world. Ezra’s already using FaceTime to connect with schoolmates for homework assignments.
10. Swap skills and tricks
We’re launching a ‘skills and tricks swap shop’ where we choose three things we can learn or teach each other. If you want to try this with your kids, you can pick something challenging, something useful (e.g. life skill), and something fun/random. Our suggestions so far include teaching Jed to use his yoyo, teaching Ezra to sew a button on and teaching Mum to take penalties!
11. Become ping pong champs
I’m hoping we can still send the boys off for footie in the park with their mates. But as social isolation measures get stricter, they’ll be bouncing off the walls at home. One activity the whole family can get into is ping pong using a pop-up net attached to our dinner table. Champion.
12. Have a family photo session
When was the last time you had your whole family at home this long? Use this opportunity to take some family snaps, either for your walls or as a memento of the COVID-19 global meltdown. We might try some fancy dress photo shoots, use photo booth props, or maybe I can finally get Abiye to be my Instahubby?! This is also a great time to sort through all those family albums and digital photos and blub over those adorable baby pics.
13. Party like it’s 2019
I don’t believe in end of days conspiracies. But 2020 does feel a bit like it’s party over, whoops out of time. So tonight and for the foreseeable future, we’re going to party like it’s 2019. We’ll put on our glad rags and boogie from kitchen to living room and back again. Throw down to vinyl and Spotify playlists. Play YouTube DJs and hip hop karaoke and lip sync battles. Listen to classic albums at the weekend and make each other (virtual) mix tapes. Put on our favourite concert shows and blast them on the big screen. Make believe we’re at Glastonbury. Keep believing that as long as there’s music playing, and booties shaking, there are brighter days ahead.
Please stay safe out there, people. Keep your distance. Keep your heads up. And keep the music playing, however you can. There are brighter days ahead.