This last month has been a new landscape to navigate for our home life. Mike is working from home full time. The girls activities are still canceled in the evenings. The girls and I are still homeschooling each weekday and filling our afternoons with simple activities. With all of us at home, the lines between work time and family time get blurred.
Our official start time for school is 8:30 am which helps us to focus on what needs to be done. The girls and I finish up in the early afternoon with the academics of our day. Mike is usually wrapping up with work around 5:30 but we are finding it is more fluid. Mike used to have an hour and a half commute home to decompress and wrap up his day. Now the door between his office and the rest of the house doesn’t seem to give him much time for this transition.
Mike + I and the girls are all learning to navigate this new normal. Some of the ways we used to carve out time for our family are not particularly beneficial right now. Instead reading, playing games, and working towards a goal are all ways that have helped us be purposeful with our family time.
The best way for our family to transition from work to play is to start with a walk. When Mike has finished his work for the day, we all get ready for our 2.5 mile loop around the neighborhood.
The girls may ride a scooter, bike, or walk alongside us. This physical activity gives Mike and I time to talk about our days while the girls are able to burn some energy. This daily activity isn’t embraced by all the girls but I am hopeful that they will grow to enjoy this time.
When we get back home, we all work together to get dinner on the table. I have enjoyed having more hands helping in the kitchen. Nightly dinners are a new silver lining in all of this for us. We went from having dinner one weeknight together to having dinner together nightly.
After dinner is cleaned up we try to connect + decompress in simple ways. Some of our go to activities include:
- 1000 piece puzzles
- Apples to Apples
- Building Lego Mindstorms
- Playing in our backyard
- Coding with Mike
Family read aloud
Before bedtime, the girls get all cozy in their pajamas and listen to our family read aloud book. Mike has picked out some fun, adventurous books to read. We are currently reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. It is good to laugh together over Tom’s antics.
The next few books on our list are:
- Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Adding more structure to our evening family time has helped the girls know what to expect. Reading as a family eases the time between family fun and bedtime. Mike usually reads for 30 minutes and then it is time for the girls to have quiet time in their bedrooms.
Our weekends were the time we used for hiking, biking, exploring Chicago, getting together with family, and catching up on all of our errands. For the last few weeks we have used our weekends much differently. On the first weekend of the Illinois Stay-At-Home order, Mike and I walked around the house and made a list of all the little projects that we never seemed to have time for.
The list included small things like filling holes in the wall, touching up paint, and deep cleaning certain areas. We also added many paint projects and updating our basement. As the girls have grown up, we have started cleaning out all their old toys. Our basement is now used as more of a family room than a playroom.
We are tackling the basement as our first large project. Everyone in the family is able to help move this project forward. The first step is to go through the basement and make piles of things to keep, giveaway, or sell. We have already spent one Saturday on this first step and have at least one more day of going through all the things.
Then we hope to reallocate what each space will be used for. We need to have a work out area, craft area, and an area to relax as a family. Our plan is to paint and refresh our basement in the next month. This project will help us use our weekend family time in a productive way. We will all benefit from having more usable space in our basement.
With more time home as a family, we had to find a way to distinguish between work time and family time. It has helped us to purposefully keep an evening rhythm. Each family has to decide how to create an environment that works well for their particular personalities + strengths.
After floundering during our first week of social distancing, Mike and I regrouped. By implementing a rhythm for our evenings we were able to connect as a family and use the time to recharge from our day.
As you navigate more family time, how do you encourage purposeful moments?
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