Tools To Stay At Home As A Blended Family
Well, life sure does have a way of changing quickly, doesn’t it?
This time last week, we knew the Coronavirus threat was emerging, but who could have thought that things would be so different in the span of a few short days? And that it would continue to change by the hour.
I’m guessing you are, like me, working from home and doing all you can to stay occupied. And sane.
Add all that’s going on in the world to the already difficult dynamics of being stepmom in a blended family. Now we have to become educators, entertainers, and we have to try to figure out how to shuttle kids between houses without passing all kinds of germs and viruses back and forth? All while trying to work from home?
Yeah, I feel you, sister.
I’ve spent some time compiling resources and ideas for you as you stay at home as part of a blended family. This is not a complete list. There are a TON of resources out there. I will be updating this regularly as I learn more, so please send me anything else you’d like to see included!
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Get Your House In Order To Stay At Home
As you plan to stay at home, you’ll want to get your act together on the front end. Like now. It will make life at home much, much easier.
So . . .
Sit Down RIGHT NOW And Do These Two Things To Get Organized:
1. Come Up With A List Of Projects And Tasks.
Projects are those things you’ve been putting off. For my husband, it’s organizing our garage. And for me, it’s organizing my home office.
Then come up with a list of your more immediate tasks. These are things like any calls you need to make, bills you need to pay, or notes you need to write. These can change from day to day.
Need some help or a good place to get all this written down? I’ve set up an awesome (and FREE) planner (if I do say so myself) that will get you started. You can find it here.
2. Set Up A Daily Schedule.
You will become more bored and listless by the hour if you don’t set up some kind of schedule. I’m not talking about an exactly enforced hour by hour routine, but – well, okay, I kind of am.
You don’t have to become the scheduling police, but it will help everyone in the house to have some sort of routine for these next few weeks.
I suggest something along the lines of this: get up and eat breakfast, get some physical activity, do a couple of hours of work and then break for lunch. And repeat for the afternoon.
The toolkit I developed will help you map all of this out. You can find it here. It’s what I’m using to make sure I don’t spend all day, every day in front of the television. Which trust me, is a temptation!
I don’t have all the answers for what to do with your kids during this time. But here are some ideas on how you can keep them engaged and active:
For Young Kids
There are actually a ton of online resources for younger children. A lot of zoos, museums, and personalities are putting together content to help you occupy your kids during this tough time. I can’t promise they’ll fill all your needs, but there are a lot of options out there.
My friend Ehrica of Milestone Mom is going to be LIVE online daily at 10:00 a.m. starting on March 17th with story and craft time for your kids.
We don’t have small kids in the house, but I’m tempted to join her group for the crafts! You can find a schedule of all of her live activities on her Facebook page.
Also starting this week, children’s author Mo Willems is releasing a “Lunch Doodles” online workshop every Monday. You can access it on the Kennedy Center website here.
And he’s even encouraging students to email him questions LUNCHDOODLES@kennedy-center.org and he’ll try to answer them on his stream.
The Cincinnati Zoo is hosting virtual safaris at 3:00 p.m. EST each day on Facebook Live.
The zoo will highlight one animal per day and include an activity that kids can do from home. How cool is that?
The videos will also be posted to the zoo’s website and YouTube channel.
My friend Jenny runs The Relaxed Homeschool, which has some amazing (and free) resources for you.
Her website focuses on homeschool resources. Even if you’re not looking for longterm homeschooling for your children, she’s got some great activities and craft ideas for kids.
In fact, she’s offering a free Alphabet Preschool Workbook for you here.
For Older Kids and Teens
Many schools are implementing online learning programs. If your area is, then set aside some time each day for the kids to do their work.
Other than schoolwork, here are a few other ideas. And I’ve included some idea worksheets in the FREE stay at home planner I put together – you can find it here.
My stepson mentioned wanting to do a science experiment while he was home to make “whale’s toothpaste.” Are you familiar with this? I wasn’t – until he pointed me to a really fun YouTube video that shows a few fun experiments with it.
If you’re looking for other crafts or projects, Amazon is your best friend. From science kits to microscopes, bracelet making or knitting, there is pretty much a kit for any kind of project you could want.[update as of 3/17/20: Amazon is prioritizing delivery of household staples, medical supplies and other high demand products. It doesn’t mean you won’t get your order, just means that temporarily you may see some shipping delays on non-urgent items.]
There may be a shortage of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, but there is NOT a shortage of books. I’m guessing you have some around the house that you could give to your kids.
And if not, there’s always Amazon, which has a ton of options for every age group.
A few books that our kids have enjoyed are Just Mercy (recently made into a movie), the Harry Potter series, of course, and The Boy In The Striped Pajamas.
Online or Audio Courses (not the school kind!)
If you haven’t ever taken a class through the Great Courses, you’re missing out. The site has digital classes on pretty much every subject under the sun.
The Great Courses works with such notable institutions as the Smithsonian, National Geographic, and the Mayo Clinic, among others. And you can find classes on topics ranging from World War II to How to Draw.
There are a ton of options for teens and the site is almost always running a sale or special.
If you’re looking to occupy (torture?) yourself for hours on end, embark on a Monopoly game with the family. There are now about a million versions of Monopoly, from the Cheater’s Edition to the National Parks Edition, which is the one we have.
Or you could try a fun puzzle. Or a round of Exploding Kittens. If you want to build in some family time each day while you’re home, finding a good game is a way to engage everyone. You could even let a different child pick the game each day.
Why not write some thank you notes to some of the health care workers in your area? They are all working past the point of exhaustion during this time of crisis and some kind words from kids (or adults) are sure to cheer. Or a nice note for your local grocery store cashier or stocker? As we all know, the grocery stores have been packed and employees there are also working overtime to make sure you can get what you need to stay at home.
Stepmoms, this can be a tricky time for you.
Stepmoms, you’re probably navigating this time with your stepkids with a bit of trepidation. If your husband has joint custody, the kids may be going back and forth between houses during this time. And you have no idea what measures the other house is taking to keep them healthy and safe.
All you can do is take care of your household. And I want to help you do just that. I really hope you’ll use the free planner I’ve developed for you. These are scary times. Let me take one thing off your plate.
To help you even more, I’ve lowered the price of my Stepmom Survival System. This system will not only give you something to do while you’re staying at home, but it will also provide you with some important help as you navigate being at home with kids, custody changes with kids, etc.
We will get through this time together. And I’m here to help. You got this!