“Sure, I can write a post about setting goals with kids during the coronavirus quarantine.” — Confident Me
“Hey kids, we’re going to be home for an extended period of time together. What do you think some of our goals should be?” — Optimistic Me
Kid 1 (age 7): “I want to learn how to make water from nothing!”
Kid 2 (age 5.5): “I can fart really smelly! Want to see?!”
Kid 3 (age 3.5): “Watch me dump [jump] this!”
Doesn’t look like our “social distancing” is going to be productive. Let’s try this again!
“Hey kids, let’s set some goals together! What if, 3-year-old, we worked on recognizing one letter a day? And 7-year-old, what if we tried to work up to running one mile without stopping? And 5-year-old, let’s really work on nailing down reading! I know you’ve got this! And for me, I’m going to run every other day and finish a bunch of house projects that I’ve put off, like building a raised bed in front of our house.” — Take-Charge Me
Mom: Breaks car vent loading lumber from Home Depot pick-up. Bonus: Kids learn a few new vocabulary words. Downside: They can’t use these words in front of Grandma.
Kid 1: “I want to run around in the backyard forever. Naked.”
Kid 2: “My brother is going to do my reading for me; he promised.”
Kid 3: “Watch me dump this!”
“Hey kids, here’s what we’re going to do! I’ve made a very reasonable schedule, which involves lots of time playing in the backyard (clothed), lots of snacks, and a little bit of intentional reading and math time — plus bonus features like drawing with your favorite artist! Doesn’t this look like fun!?” — Determined-to-Make-This-Work Mom
Kid 1: I’m starving. When is the third breakfast?
Kid 2: Huh?
Kid 3: I just broke it.
And scene. </>
We’re neck-deep in uncharted territory.
We’re all learning as we go, and what started out as the best possible goals three days ago might need to be modified now under real-life circumstances.
As we set goals with our kids, it’s important to give ourselves grace for the bizarre circumstances we find ourselves in now. I began this week with high expectations and now have lowered them significantly. We’ve had some hard days and some good days. We’re all in this together, and man is it messy (as seen above)!
Here are a few lessons I’m learning along the way:
- My kids function best when they get lots of running around and playing time. We can call this “building gross motor skills,” but really it’s just being a kid. Alternate between intentional activities and movement or free play. Take advantage of Go Noodle or Cosmic Kids Yoga to build in some wiggle space. It’ll help them concentrate in the long run.
- In terms of education, focus on things that can be fun as well as educational. I grew up as a homeschooler, and the majority of our day wasn’t spent sitting in front of a desk — we did experiential learning. Practice math by baking and doubling the recipe so you can drop some off for a neighbor. Practice vocabulary through playing Scrabble. Learn about science by planting seeds.
- Schedule in quiet solo playtime, whether you are working from home or not. This is a perfect opportunity to stretch this muscle and teach our kids to enjoy snuggling up with a book, playing playdough, or drawing — by themselves. And parents, to stay sane, you need that occasional break. Make it part of your rhythm.
- Be flexible. As we are learning from the current ever-changing news cycle, things change rapidly. Make a schedule — and set goals, because kids need to know what to expect — but be willing to hold it loosely, and adapt to what your kids are communicating. If they’re having a blast building Legos, don’t move things along to get to “requirements.” Don’t be so hell-bent on a particular goal that you miss the bigger lesson your kids are learning about kindness and care for others.
- Focus more on debriefing rather than covering everything at the beginning. Anything can be educational or a growth moment if you know how to interpret it with your children. Tomorrow, my children are going to learn about angles as we extract the beams from our mini-van and (try to) build a garden box. Then we’re going to learn about botany and weather as we plant seeds. They won’t understand any of this — they’re going to think we’re just having fun with hammers and soil — until I help them understand it.
Hang in there, mama! Despite what Instagram tells us, none of us have it figured out. You’re doing just fine.