We are fighting an unconventional war against an unconventional enemy. Time to up our psychological warfare game. I give you Sun Tzu from the Art of War:
However desperate the situation and circumstances—
When there is everything to fear—
When surrounded by dangers—
Fear none of them.
When without resources—
Depend on resourcefulness.
Take the enemy by surprise.
Sun Tzu probably never had to work from home and take care of his kids while quarantined.
We’ve definitely been surprised. Is it possible to take the enemy by surprise and regain some lost ground?
Many of us that are working from home and caring for our children feel trapped in a Catch-22. If we attend to our work, we feel like bad parents. If we attend to our kids, we feel like bad workers. (Perish the thought that we attend to ourselves.) We feel like failures on all fronts.
This expresses itself in guilt and compounds our stress and anxiety, so our bodies continue to release stress hormones like cortisol and we function perpetually in “fight or flight” mode. This compounds our struggles.
Tasks feel like they take so much longer. Easy things feel harder. Hard things feel completely impossible. Our brains really aren’t wired to multitask effectively and we are asking them to multitask while under a great deal of stress. That stress is chemical, it is hormones in our bodies. They take their toll and we give up even more ground. Eventually, you are not even you.
You don’t feel overwhelmed; your brain is overwhelmed. It is like overloading a circuit-breaker. It is going to trip and you’ll shut down. Some of us are already there.
Even our sense of time and our internal body-clock get out of whack. For some of us, the days feel unbearably long. For others, the days seem impossibly fast. The rhythms and routines that defined our days have been upended. Things that gave our lives meaning and significance have been taken from us.
Research indicates that child abuse and domestic violence rates are going up. Divorce lawyers are gearing up. These are our families. Our children. Our spouses. The people we love the most that can become both the catalyst and the object of our anger and stress. Make no mistake, we are in a war. The enemy is NOT our family. The enemy is the mercenary Covid-19 and the disruption it has brought to our lives.
We can wage this war with hand sanitizer, disinfectants, hand washing, and social distancing, but the real frontline is our mind. This is psychological warfare. So what are the rules of engagement?
An expert in psychological warfare says, “When people are stressed, there is a temptation to lose touch with reality and to blur the boundary between reality and fantasy, If you blur that line and start making decisions on false data, that’s going to lead to bad decision making.”
Your mind is a Prediction Making Machine. Don’t rely on its guesses based on “false data” about the future and create false narratives like:
- I’m botching my child’s future because I can’t really help them with school.
- My boss probably thinks I’m a bad worker and is gonna fire me.
- My spouse and I can’t get along and my marriage isn’t going to survive this.
- I’m going to be financially ruined.
You don’t have to believe everything your brain tells you. Tell your brain they’re Covid-19 psych ops, that other outcomes can be more likely. Tell your brain you will take things as they actually happen and not react because they might happen.
What are your weapons? Directing your attention to the truth. Adjusting expectations. Practicing gratitude. Exercising stillness. (You don’t have to fill 100% of your day with activity.) Breathing. Releasing tension in healthy ways. Sharing love. Practicing grace and forgiveness. Creatively helping others. Putting off important decisions. All these weapons are right between your ears.
Just knowing you are engaged in psychological warfare is a good start. Hold your ground. Fight the good fight for yourself and for the people you love. Take Sun Tzu’s advice and surprise the enemy by using your best weapon- your mind. Don’t let yourself, family or marriage be a casualty. Don’t settle for being a survivor. Focus your mind on being victorious.
Feeling overwhelmed with coming up with things to do with your kids stuck at home? Check out this ultimate list of ideas! Thanks to the Princess Awesome & Boy Wonder Community for the amazing suggestions!! (for actual quarantine, school closures, weekend social distancing, anytime!)
- Have each kid pick a topic they’d like to learn about and spend 30 mins each day on that topic
- Spend one day reading every single picture book we have in the house
- Go through all the old mail laying around (ok, that one’s not for kids although they do enjoy helping tear stuff up)
- Bake something every day
- Have each kid write a letter and/or emails to a different friend or family member each day
- Use all of our building toys on one giant structure
- Wash our hands!!!!
- Races of various kinds in the backyard (hopping on one foot, crabwalk, walking backwards, etc.)
- Try stop motion animation with playdough
- Facetime grandparents a lot
- watch everything on Disney+
- inventory the plants & wildlife (from bugs on up) in your yard.
- learn the parts of plants/flowers & how they function (bonus if they learn the Latin names).
- if you aren’t too squeamish & have a spare clear shoebox size tote or 5-10 gallon tank, catch some pillbugs (rolly pollies, sowbugs) & observe them (if you really do this, i can tell you how to set them up. i have about a thousand of them currently because it’s too cold here to thin the herd & they’ve been reproducing all winter. they’re pretty interesting).
- write a short story & illustrate it.
- learn how to do simple book binding.
- make paper (from your old mail!)
- have the kids help with yardwork in between playing games outside. They’re little, but they like getting dirty and “working” in the gardens.
- GoNoodle! Great for guided movement, relaxation, etc.
- Board games, card games
- We have some extreme dot to dot books (1400 dots) that the kids love, especially the 5 year old!
- Lots of reading, playing with the dog,
- Working on learning to sew using stuff we have on hand.
- Card making/scrapbooking projects (mostly for me but kids can do it too).
- Getting the garden ready, we need to weed and work the ground. I might get seeds and we’ll set up to have our own starts this year.
- Make tents and reading caves : ) flashlights, tidy snacks, books, and pillows!
- Have a shadow show in the reading tent (we used blankets over chairs or a table)
- Get binoculars and learn about the birds near your house, look them up on google and search for their birdcalls on YouTube
- Learn how to make a stuffed animal
- Play with cornstarch and water and cheap action figures
- many educational websites are waving fees if your students school is closed
- Here’s a list of all of them that are waving fees
- Collect a bunch of tape markers and cardboard boxes. That’ll keep them busy for a day or two.
- Watch all the hand washing videos & vote on your favorite. Discuss why each good, helpful, funny. The Holderness parody one is hilarious, the Vietnam Tiktok one is great choreography, some have good songs etc.
- Also pick your favorite song with a 20 second refrain or verse perfect for hand washing length of time.
- Family puzzles. Ones that are 500-1000 pieces and a challenging but not frustrating picture
- We homeschool (4 kids) and honestly, just have fun!!!!!
- Team up and really clean and organize each kid’s space, making a donation box for each. Parents are included.
- Have a board game day
- kids can also make their own games! Board games, card games, you name it! My daughter spent a lot of time this winter creating soccer and football games played with cards for moves and pieces made out of legos
- Write a story cooperatively. One person picks a character and the other picks a setting and then go gangbusters together.
- the folding picture story one! We called it “eat poop you cat” one person draws a small picture across the top of a paper the next person writes a sentence that describes that picture and folds Over the paper top of the paper hot dog style to cover the picture. So the 3rd person only sees a sentence and they have to draw a picture. They fold over the sentence.
- Any and all art is fun at home: beading, painting, drawing, play dough or kinetic sand, sewing, etc. when my daughter was young we could do art all day.
- Massive board game tournament with all the (mostly forgotten) board games we own!
- Stolen from “growing up global fb page”
- If your school is going on #quarantine and running #schoolonline, get #GlobalKids for the special price of just $10.98. Take a screen-free, curiosity + creativity boosting, global empathy + engagement trip around the world, from comfort of your home
- My daughter (6) has enjoyed doing yoga at home. There are kid-friendly YouTube videos and printed cards with poses.
- Zumba or Dance-along videos on YouTube
- We home school exclusively and the best advice I have is check out Pinterest. There are tons of ideas for activities, games, etc.
- Draw self portraits on blank faces
- color coded different interesting places on a map.
- I’ve had them draw maps of places and then make directions from one place to another to see if someone else could follow it.
- We’ve done scavenger hunts, indoor treasure hunts where they follow clues through the house to a “treasure” at the end (could be candy, a movie, whatever), and a lot of charades.
- I made videos with my 3rd grade daughter teaching kids how to write code. Check out the videos here
- My daughter wanted a doll house for her 18″ dolls. We saved cardboard boxes and got more from Dollar general and got to work. The closets and couch are cardboard as well.
- There are a few easy “kitchen chemistry” type science experiments that are easy to do, like making slime, baking soda and vinegar reaction, etc.
- we put food coloring under the baking soda in a mini muffin pan and used Pipette to drop vinegar in and then you can see the color!
- Last summer we did an experiment to learn what each ingredient did for a cake (so we made one following the recipe, one without eggs, one without milk, etc.). We then compared and contrasted the different cakes … Then we ate a lot of weird cake.
- There are a bunch of ideas on the lab section of our webpage! And we have letters from women in STEM around the world!
- give the dogs a bath and brush
- wash and clean out my car (mostly their food trash and dirty socks)
- mow the lawn (my 11 year old just learned!)
- play sidewalk chalk outside
- glow stick party
- popcorn + movie marathon
- Listen to kid podcasts – we love story pirates and smash boom best.
- Declutter toys!
- Have an Olympics with a bunch of events competitions – funny ones, helpful ones like cleaning and really fun ones like minute to win in style.
- Learn new card games
- We’re going to learn to make sushi!
- Lots of art projects!
- Dig up all the activity books, presents, etc that never got played with, and use those!
- There’s always time tested building a tent in the house with blankets and chairs. Great for just before nap time.
- We are going to bust out our hiking gear and try new hiking paths. As long as you stay away from over populated areas you will naturally stay a safe distance from others and sick people generally don’t hike!
- Do a study on planets, then have the kids create their own planets- how big is it, where in the universe is it located, atmosphere conditions, can it sustain life, how long is a day/year, name it, etc.
- you could even spread the planets out around the house to show “approx.” distance from each other.
- Watch this to learn about relative distance
- Design a new space craft, draw plans, then create out of legos or household items. Spend some time pretending you’re on different planets with different gravity, you could seriously spend a whole week on just fun space activities.
- But that’s not limited to space- these ideas would work for animals, geography, body systems, historical events/time periods, etc. Beyond that, do some fun physics experiments like making a bridge out of straws, egg drop protectors, paper airplanes, etc.
- PuppetMaster: an app where you can animate anything from a drawing to a stuffed animal.
- Practice spinning poi – my daughter is just learning how to spin and it’s been fun practicing together.
- Puzzle races: put several puzzles (20+ piece puzzles) in a paper bag and shake it up. Pour pieces out and give each person the puzzle box they are to put together. Go! (Cooperation tends to be a result as pieces are traded.)
- Dig through cabinets and figure out recipes for that thing you got at the grocery store and thought “this is interesting surely it can be used for something!” And then make it!
- Water play
- Make ice cream
- Make and play with Play dough
- I let them “paint the fence” with washable paints outside
- My mother used to let us put on swimsuits and get out our beach towels and have a pretend beach party on rainy or snowy days, complete with Beach Boys music.
For more COIVD-19 Resources, click here!