Quarantine life has its benefits and downfalls. Mix in two young boys, two working parents, and you have a recipe for stress.
My children are 5 and 9. They can be self-sufficient for about 15 - maybe 20 - minutes without electronics. When they had school, the older one was great from 9-3. And then he figured something out, if he worked hard for a few hours, he could finish his work by lunch time. The little guy, he had one Zoom a day for 30 minutes, then he played with necklaces for about an hour (he cut them and was using them as weapons and to create designs) and after that, it was tough.
My wife and I took shifts. One of us got to work in quiet half the day, and the other worked while our kids kind of left us alone. Many of my coworkers saw my kids in the background. And one day, the younger one busted into a meeting and said, "Henry called me a butthole." Luckily, my coworker just smiled and went back to business.
You might be wondering: what did their kids do all day? There was a heavy dose of electronics. I felt like a bad parent, letting a device babysit them. Then I noticed the Fortnite obsession my son had was contagious and spreading across most of his friends. I felt a little better when he complained that his friends could be online longer.
My current deal, which my kids are sick of hearing, is "play with each other nicely for 30 minutes and then you can earn technology time." We have some rituals to keep them moving like a morning and an evening walk or bike ride, but that's the biggest challenge for me. When I was a kid and it was nice out, I was outside. I could play with friends or alone for hours with an array of summer toys. Kids these days need an adult, a friend, a guidebook, and an app on how to play without technology. My children will come out of this pandemic with some idea of how to play without a device; Legos and water balloons seem to help.
Being cooped up with little socialization is hard for adults and kids. We've recently okayed bike rides and outdoor play but we are still cautious. Teaching both kids to ride their bikes has been a huge parenting win and it happened just in the nick of time. Next up, camp.
Part of me is nervous to send them to camp, and the rest of me is so excited for the quiet. Both day camps promise to keep groups small, the kids spaced out, but still have fun. For my sanity and theirs, camp will be good - but yes, I'm nervous about COVID. Illinois numbers are decreasing, but other states are moving the needle in the wrong direction. I have no idea if this is good or bad parenting, but as I've benefitted from spending time with friends, I think they will too.
I would love suggestions from others on how they are keeping their kids active and off the screen. Hope everyone out there is safe and sane!