How am I going to keep my son engaged in online learning for the foreseeable future?” I just left a ZOOM meeting with my high school Junior son’s school. They were keeping parents informed about the plans they have for the rest of the semester. Their initial hope was to be back in school by the middle of April. Per this meeting, our new date is April 27. My real question is, how am I going to survive this? 

Here are a few tips to survive having teens in quarantine 24/7 in your home.

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

At this time, it is primarily important that we know what our teens are thinking and feeling. Are they anxious, scared, withdrawn, missing their friends, or antsy? Do they want to go visit friends or have friends come over? 

Are you experiencing anything similar with teens in quarantine? Parents, we must discuss the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic with our teens. We must be honest with them about the facts and transparent with them about our feelings. Also, remember that their brains are not fully formed (25-30 is the age) so expect some questions or flat-out denial that it’s not that bad. “It won’t happen to me and my friends. Well, our family is going to follow the guidelines. 

The ways that we enforce rules during this time should be no different than how you enforce cell phone usage, driving privileges or dating rules.

2. Do something physical.

My son’s school has a mandatory physical requirement for all students. As a result, the coaches have sent the students workouts that will keep them in shape. I was thinking that it might be nice to work out with my son. After about 5 minutes, I was ready to cough up a lung. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout, but maybe a walk/run/jog around the neighborhood. Try a bike ride, or throw the football, baseball, and frisbee to each other in the yard. Physical activity can reduce stress and expend excessive energy.

3. Keep the routine.

I am grateful that my son’s school schedule has allowed him, for the most part, to keep to his regular school day. He starts around the same time every day.  While he may have longer breaks, he usually has classes in the morning and in the afternoon. He has a set time for lunch and his physical activity. Keeping his routine gives him a sense of security in the midst of the Coronavirus. It allows him to control what he can control:  His attitude and his effort in classes.

4. Stay connected.

With all of my boys home, having dinner together has been a way for us to touch base with each other. I am trying to make their favorite dinners, desserts, etc. We talk about things like what classes my rising Senior will take next year, how online interviews are going with my soon-to-be college graduate, what their summer plans will be (jobs, college visits, visits to the grandparents.) It’s not all serious talk. I ask my youngest, “Who is your favorite musician and why?” These talking points allow me to get into their world. They recognize that I am interested in what’s going on with them. Family meals are a great time to stay connected.

5. Be grateful.

Throughout this time, I am choosing gratitude.  I am getting to spend quality time with my sons that I will cherish forever. I frequently share my gratitude with them. Yes, I am “surviving” the teen years—even COVID-19 quarantine—but sooner than I think, they will be gone from home. They will be men with their own homes, jobs, and families. I won’t take even this hard time for granted. Enjoy your teens in quarantine while you can! Don’t just survive—thrive!

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