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"Social Distancing" Daily Routine for Kids

When I received word that all schools in Michigan were closed for three weeks, I can honestly say that I was pretty stunned. This unprecedented decision will undoubtedly have consequences for students and their families. Immediately, I began considering what I could do to make sure my own children and well as my school children could continue to receive appropriate learning opportunities regardless of the environment. One of the most obvious advantages to being a teacher is that I have the same days off as my kiddos. That means that I have become accustomed to keeping my squad occupied when they are at home. And yes, I’m that mom who monitors screen time and makes them work on academics in the summer. So, two days into this whole “social distancing” phenomena, I am already whipping the kids into our new, normal routine as best I can. If you’re looking for a rough outline of how you can structure your day, feel free to use our routine as a guide.


First and foremost, if you don’t have to get up early for school, why would you? Sleep is so important and I know that most adults and children could definitely use more of it. And while I’m not really sure that you can put sleep in the bank for later, I certainly take advantage of days off to either catch up on it or bank it for later. And since we are especially concerned about remaining healthy right now, lack of sleep may make us more susceptible to illness, so why chance it? My twins are older and even if they do wake up earlier, they will get themselves breakfast and occupy themselves. My eight-year-old son, however, still doesn’t like sleeping in...unless it’s with me. So guess what? I let him crawl into bed and sleep with me. This way we can both get some extra sleep and even some extra cuddle time. I know all too well that soon he will feel like he’s too old for snuggle time with his mom, so I take advantage of it while I can.


Once we are all up, it’s workout time for me, which means they need to get up and moving as well. After the kids get themselves breakfast,I give them several options to choose from to get their blood pumping as we begin the day. I always encourage them to join me with my workouts. They have their own set of light dumbbells to use. At most they last a few circuits, and I enjoy the company. If they choose not to do the circuits, they join me while I jog. Occasionally they run with me, but more often than not, they join me on their bikes. It takes me a lot longer to run this way, but it’s worth it to have some human companionship. We stop to spit in the creek and collect rocks, pine cones, cat tails, and other items from nature. The fresh air and exercise tends to help improve all of our moods.


Once we have all had some exercise, I take a shower while they work on school work. I prefer mornings for academics since that’s when research says people learn and focus best. The school my children attend sent some work home for them to complete, and the twins also have online Google Classroom assignments to complete each day. If your child’s school did not send any work home, don’t fret. Even older kids can benefit from basic skills practice. You can have your child make his or her own math flashcards. They could be addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Have the child put the correct answer on the back of the card. They can practice making words as well. This game requires little preparation but is fun. You think of a word, preferably a longer one. You put each letter in the word on a seperate piece of paper. Basically, the object of the game is for your child to unscramble the word, but they also get points for each smaller word they create. So, if your word is “leprechaun,” they can make smaller words like “pen” and “preach.” Each word is scored based on the number of letters in the word. A three-letter word earns a score of three, while a six-letter word receives a score of six. If your child finds out the “big word, “ it’s worth a double score. There are also countless free websites that offer learning activities free of charge. A few of my favorites include https://pbskids.org/, https://www.dogonews.com/ and https://www.abcya.com/. I also like https://www.ixl.com/math/, although you can only see some of the lessons if you aren’t a member. If you search free learning websites for kids, you’ll find an abundance of resources. And in light of our current global situation, many websites that often require subscriptions have offered to allow students to use them for free while they are unable to attend classes. And the act of reading is one of the most powerful learning activities you can promote, so read aloud to your child, regardless of his or her age.


Next comes lunchtime. My kids are responsible for finding leftovers or making their own lunches, but we work together to clean up the kitchen after. I also like to listen to music and dance during this time. We take turns choosing the station since it’s usually around lunchtime, so if it were up to me, we would stick with nineties jams on the Throwback Nooner. So, we take turns to make sure everyone hears at least one song they enjoy. And are there ever arguments? Of course! “He eats too loud.” “She’s looking at me.” “That food stinks.” “Don’t sing...you’re ruining the song.” And yeah, that last one is usually directed towards me. But part of being a mom and a teacher for that matter, is helping our young ones learn how to deal with conflict appropriately, so as irritated as I get sometimes, I do my best to use these opportunities to teach socially appropriate behavior.


After lunch, I let the kids play on their electronics for a half hour. They usually insist on having the television on as well during this time. Then I have them do something creative. This could include artwork, Lego, or the boys will sometimes play with their model trucks while my daughter plays with her toy horses. They are much better than I am at coming up with ideas of pretend play. They’ll play store sometimes with fake money. We have also had talent shows with stand-up comic routines, dances, songs, sports tricks, and random acts of hilariousness. They’ll dress up in costumes, and I sometimes even take video. It’s pretty epic, if I do say so myself. The point is, this is a time devoted to playing cooperatively, which is sometimes seamless and sometimes a challenge. Regardless, working and playing together is essential at teaching social skills. I like dancing, so I sometimes turn on music and we freestyle or do some wedding-style line dances. I often wonder what the flies on the wall of our house think!


Then it’s time to take our German Shepherd out for a walk, Everyone goes on this two-mile trek regardless of the weather. The good news is that we have all kinds of apparel for all kinds of weather. I mean, we live in Michigan, right? Our daily walks are often the highlight of my day. We talk about the day. My youngest son always makes me tell a story about the funniest part of the day. If I can’t think of anything, he tells me to make something up. We are blessed to live in the country, so the kids can go into the ditches and look for “treasures” that I refuse to let them touch. They also trudge through the water at the bottom of the ditches. They take turns letting the dog pull them down the road. These walks accomplish so much. The dog takes care of her business and gets rid of some energy. The kids get some exercise and let off some steam. And It’s so important to be outside breathing in fresh air and appreciate nature. Our ultimate goal right now is to stay healthy, and being in good overall health to begin with helps make you less likely to succumb to the most devastating effects of any sickness.


Once the walk has concluded, I have the kids do any chores they may have. Each week, they are expected to clean their rooms. This includes vacuuming and dusting as well as tidying. They also have to give me their sheets to wash. During break times, I add a few additional chores. These include dusting, mopping, washing dishes, setting the table, and helping with dinner. There are certain tasks that certain kiddos prefer, so I give them the shoice. My younger son loves mopping, so it’s his job. My daughter, thankfully, likes dusting, so I give her that job that I don’t like. My older son hates all chores, so I assign him a household chore. Then the kids take turns helping with dinner, setting the table, or helping with dishes. They all prefer helping to make the meal, so they have to take turns. They help me make the grocery list and under normal circumstances, I would also have them go to the grocery store with me. Currently, however, I’m having them stay at home instead as a precaution. But I have found that my picky eaters are more likely to finish their meals and complain less when they are part of the meal-making process.


Then it’s sports time. My kids and I are genetically linked and I’ve nurtured their development, so sports are in their blood. Right now it’s warm enough for a quick football, basketball, or baseball game in the yard. When it’s cold or rainy, we will play bedroom basketball with a hoop on the door or we’ll play catch inside. Our after-dinner sports can result in sweaty, dirty kids, so shower time is inevitable afterward. They shower and begin to unwind. Then I allow them to use their electronics and watch television. They get to have a snack before bed as well. Then we begin our normal bedtime routine. It begins with getting their teeth brushed. And continues with a family game, a read-aloud, prayer, and silent reading. We take turns choosing a game to play, but a few of our favorites include Uno, Old Maid, Go Fish, and Spoons. This is not always my favorite part of the day. I live with some competitive little people. Again, I use this as a teaching tool about how to get along, play fairly, and be a good winner and a good loser. Then my younger son reads aloud to the family. We pray, and everyone shares prayer requests. Then we go upstairs and everyone joins me in the big bed to hear a read aloud from a chapter book. Then I lay with my younger son and rub his back while he falls asleep. The twins go to their rooms and read silently until their bedtime, which is slightly later. They always come and say goodnight before going to sleep.


Essentially, we try to make sure we devote some time for family, academics, fitness, chores, creativity, basic needs and hygiene, and most importantly...fun! As a teacher, structure and routine are paramount to success so we stick to this basic plan most of the time, so that everyone knows and understands the expectations. So my plan for the next three weeks, is to stay healthy and keep life as normal as possible while taking advantage of family time while we’re in “social isolation.” And definitely keep in touch on Instagram at @fmm_thewolf or @fitmodelmom if you have and questions or suggestions for activities I can try with my own family.

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