Right now, my kids are very grateful to have each other. I’m also going to chime in and say I’m thankful they have each other as well. I always am. But right now especially so, after a full day together by the end of the day they’re tired of me and I’m tired of them. It’s nice to see them getting together and figuring out creative ways to stay busy.
OK, but let’s be real. The fights, meltdowns, freak-outs, hissy fits, screaming matches, punches, hits, scratches, crying and everything else that might be happening in your families – are trying. I feel you. I have definitely had my own tantrums with my children and yelled way more than I ever thought I would. Life is crazy right now, there are no distractions or escaping each other. Our social children, and selves, are desperate for the friends they had to leave behind at school, desperate for their teammates. Our introverts have us all up in their space all day long, never having any time alone in the house. We are all feeling this during this pandemic.
I can’t say I know the secret to surviving all this time in the house together. I don’t know the exact ingredients to making this successful but I can say that I truly feel having each other is a comfort for our children at this time. On the flip side we do need to help them breathe a bit as well. Here are the ideas I’ve come up with so far in our house:

20 minutes
This strategy was one that came from a parenting expert. It entails carving out 20 minutes with one child a few times a week. What this means is that you and that child do whatever the child chooses for 20 solid minutes alone. You start the timer when the activity and alone time begins and it lasts the full 20 minutes with no interruptions. It could mean playing a game, reading a book, taking a bath, going for a bike ride – whatever that child needs and wants. The purpose is to help build the bond between the two of you when there are multiple children in the home.
It helps keep the lines of communication open. It’s really important in a busy life with people coming and going in all directions – school, sports, work, clubs … right now we have so much time together that being too busy might not be such a hurdle to overcome with carving out this time. And it may just be what they need to help survive all the ups and downs of this trying time.
When we used to do this they each looked forward to their time each week, they planned what it was we would be doing and couldn’t wait to close the door on everyone else.

Sportscasting the fights
Ok, this is cool and I definitely need to try this out. With this strategy the parent acts as more of a referee and doesn’t actually involve themselves in solving the argument. You listen and repeat what the children involved are saying, you make sure they are heard and remain neutral. You help them figure out how to solve problems, cooperate and acknowledge each other’s point of view and feelings without weighing in. You might have to really practice at remaining impartial but at least it’s up to them to figure out.

Breathing Room
Right now my eldest is often saying she just needs some time away from her siblings. I’ve been reminding her that they too sometimes need space away from her, because hey she has her moments too. We’ve been working on ensuring they each have alone time in desired areas. They don’t always want to be alone in their rooms, sometimes preferring to be in the climbing tree, on the trampoline or on the swing. I don’t know if I would normally cater to this, but under these circumstances everyone’s feelings have been so all over the map, I think it’s important to try and help them get space when they need it.

We’ve instilled a quiet time
The amount of time you designate to this will obviously differ for the age of your children, but with school ageers, I’ve been saying at least a half hour alone in your room during the day. I can always tell when we need it. Snappy dialogue comes out and any little thing makes the others mad. This seems to help everyone take a breath,especially mom.

This is the best time to pull out all things cooperative
We’ve been playing tons of card games and board games, going on scavenger hunts, putting on shows and plays, playing sports: baseball, hockey, soccer, soccer baseball, biking, etc. This helps. They can appreciate that they have each other to enjoy these times with.

Until next week, keep your sanity these are difficult times. Enjoy your little ones and let them enjoy you, they are the best reason to keep on smiling.


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