Hi friends! I know times are weird, scary and unknown right now. I know practically all schools are shut down-churches, gatherings and vacations and spring breaks and conferences are canceled. Things just feel so eerie and strange; the temptation to panic is REAL haha. I could do a whooooole post on anxiety and breathing calm into these troubling days, but for now I want to create just a post to help all the mamas, dads, caretakers, everyone now stuck at home with kids for days and weeks on end! This is by no means an exhaustive list, perfect answers or brilliant ideas- just things I’ve gathered from homeschooling this year, wise and amazing friends and working through therapies with both kids- tons of good ideas come out of working through SPD and anxiety and delays with multiple OT’s and therapists each week! Before I go any further, I do want to say that this is not a “enjoy all these weeks off, maybe this means America should slow down, now you get to stay home, enjoy this time” kind of post. I GET that this is stressful, scary, hard, miserable, dreadful even. I get that jobs are at stake, income is shifting, small businesses are suffering, that staying home for weeks on end with kids sounds downright scary to some. I get that your vacations have canceled, plans have changed, money has been lost, anniversary trips stopped, man. It’s so hard, and it’s ok to validate that and admit that. If you need to vent about stuff changing, or being bored, or stressed and anxious- do it. Social Distancing is hard enough without feeing guilty for being upset and frustrated. I’m putting together this post in hopes to help us ALL thrive and not lose our minds during this season, to hopefully give even one idea to beat boredom and create a climate of “hey. We’re gonna make it. We’re gonna work together, from afar. We’re going to be ok”.

This post will be somewhat organized haha- a list of links from amazon for Our fave tools, toys, and resources for being stuck inside. (I don’t get any kick back or money from any of this, truly just want to share ideas and help out even one fam!). Next, I’ll share our fave ideas for easy and cheap activities, crafts, indoor play, sensory bin, etc. And then- links for educational and fun things online from free subscriptions to virtual museum tours!

I PROMISE I am soooo far from any kind of expert on mommin, staying home, homeschooling, nope. Ya girl is just shuffling along with the world, trying to figure this thing out. I do want to share what has been crucial for us during times of quarantine (hello arctic blizzards for weeks on end) and during homeschooling- just a few quick ideas and things that have helped my kids immensely! First is a daily rhythm or flow. There are TONS you can google depending on your kids age, needs, goals, etc. Having a visual (pictures for kids who can’t read even!) schedule hanging up where they can see it has helped my kids feel comfortable with each day- what’s going to happen, what the day will look like, where we are going. It does NOT have to be fancy or complicated, promise. You can find tons of free printable ones, create your own on a sheet of paper, have kids draw each thing, tons of options. Creating a day that starts and ends with calm, with a loose flow of events and slow but simple schedule has seriously saved my sanity most days and could be helpful during this quarantine time!

One other thought: during this time, when emotions and anxieties are high, things feel disrupted and uneasy- I try to remind myself that an emotionally escalated adult cannot de-escalate an emotional child. Our kids are not looking to the news, instagram or their friends during this time- they aren’t going to remember Covid-19 stats, news articles or how much toilet paper we had stocked up. They are going to remember how they FELT. They are going to remember how it felt to be home for three weeks, how we as parents reacted, how the emotional temperature of the home collapsed over them like a blanket as we hunker down and worry. Pippa has already picked up on my panic (I mean…PANIC. I stockpiled canned salmon guys, I am the most anxious mom ever, trust me when I say I am preaching to MYSELF right now) and asked if we are going to be ok, asked if I made sure to wash my hands, side eyed me when I threw five bottles of wine into my cart hahah. Our kids are glorious little sponges with uncanny alien like abilities to immediately sense our hearts, our emotions, to soak them up and churn them around in their tiny brains and hearts in a way they can’t communicate or process- and what usually comes out as a result is fear, fits, anger. So as we navigate all this right now- let’s help each other seek and soak up calm. Let’s process our emotions and anxieties and dread (hello, its valid, you can say it) over being stuck inside so much in the healthiest ways we can, knowing this reality is weird-but it’s not forever. It’s not final and we as parents first set the emotional climate for our lil bunkers right now.

ALSO- these are all ideas that are all good and fine when you have energy to do them. Want to just turn on Disney plus for five hours straight so you can like, just have a BREAK? Do it. Now is not the time to decide screen time is unhealthy hahah. It can be suuuuch a helpful tool, a necessary thing and totally ok to use right now. If you want to use tv all day, every day. Do it. If you want to bake your own bagels, sew socks and live off the land without a single minute of screen time, do it. Whatever you need to do right now to make it- I get it and this is a place where you are supported in ANY way you want and need to parent!

Ok done rambling- let’s get practical. Here’s a list of things from amazon that we have loved for being stuck inside!

Mini Easel Kit

Bean Bags for games, sensory bins, target toss

Dot paint markers

Magic Tracks- my kids LOVE. Love. Love.

Rainbow Silicone muffin cups for sorting, pretend play, sensory bins

Scratch Art notebooks

Giant Dinosaur Puffy sticker pack

STEM building connectors

Fine motor skills sensory tools

Magnetic Block Set

These are things we have purchased and loved! As far as workbooks, educational books or curriculum goes- there are TONS of options you can find on amazon! We love Kum On, Dash Into Learning early readers, Math For A Living Education, Mrs. Wordsmith, Sylvan Learning workbooks, writing books by Crystal Radke, Julia Rothman Anatomy books, and Welcome to the Museum series books!

Ok, now on to to my kids’ favorite indoor activities, crafts and play ideas! My golden rule is sun, water or song. Go on a nature walk, take watercolors outside and paint the scene, create an obstacle course around the yard using patio furniture and cardboard boxes. Set up a dinosaur or toy car/truck washing station, a mud kitchen, color rocks, build habitats for animals outside-research their habitats then create one! Play with shaving cream, bubbles, dry rice and beans, blocks outside. picnics for all meals, make homemade butter or ice cream in a bag, plant container gardens. spread peanut butter on pine cones and roll in birdseed and hang up in backyard trees and birdwatch! I mean seriously, there are endless things to do outside utilizing google, Pinterest, and your own kids’ imaginations and interests.

Indoors- lord. Y’all we have been STUCK inside for weeks on end before. We rotate toys in bins and baskets so fresh ones come out and feel like all new toys. Same with books! Give the kids a topic, have them create a play or walk through museum about it around the house. Let them record their play or songs and then watch the video- screen time but low key smart ha! Create a fort and make a pet clinic inside to have all the stuffed animals checked out. Pretend each room in your house is a store, let them “buy” various toys or tv time or fun snacks using money they earn doing extra chores. Pretend you’re at a restaurant and let the kids cook (its gonna be hella messy its ok its fine we’ll be fine) and serve siblings, or yourself or their stuffed animals. Write letters to friends, even ones across town. Send each other books, Lysol em first. Rearrange drawers, rooms, couches, paint a pattern on an accent wall with a fun color and sponge. Make crafts on mondays. Tacos and tv on tuesdays. Wander around outside Wednesdays. Thinking Thursdays (podcasts, workbooks, coloring sheets, answer a question about something they are interested in). Free time fridays! Y’all, I don’t even know but I promise we’re all gonna make it through this and we can dig deep, find our creative sides and thrive, truly thrive, during these weird quarantine days!

Speaking of kid friendly podcasts, here’s a small list of ones we LOVE!

Smash Boom Best, Brains On, Wow in the World, Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian, Tai Asks Why, Story Pirates, Every Little Thing, Tumble, Houston We Have A Podcast, Earth Rangers, and But Why?

And now! A list of links, websites, apps and resources for learning, boredom busters, free curriculum and educational tools.

Museums offering virtual tours!

List of subscriptions, plans, educational content -updated continually!

Virtual Field Trips

Ambleside-free curriculum for all ages/subjects

Khan Academy

Cincinnati Zoo- on facebook, join the page for a Home Safari Facebook Live each weekday at 3pm as they highlight an animal and give an at home activity!

We also love cosmic kids yoga on YouTube, free yoga classes here, and GoNoodle for mindfulness and movement videos.

K. That’s a lot. I know. I also will share daily/weekly activities and ideas on instagram as we think of them and try them the next few weeks, if you’re interested and want to follow me there!

Again, I truly just hope this helps even a tiny, tiny bit. I am so, so far from an expert on ANY of this stuff and truly just WINGIN it like a drunk pigeon as we homeschool and stay home haha. If you have any tips or ideas to add to this, toss them in the comments! If you’re struggling with this social distancing, staying home, your job, income, needing food or memes or bits of happy or ANYTHING- reach out. To me, to friends, to moms groups. Let’s lean in together during this, and figure out how we can help each other continue to thrive and grow and hope even in the midst of panic, preparation and quiet quarantine. You’re so far from alone.