As you find yourself isolated and feeling out of sync with regular life, you may be thinking about how to manage such a long stretch of unstructured time for both you and your children. Taking your cues from camp may give you some creative ideas that everyone can embrace. Here are some things to consider when you run your own in-home camp program (counselors not included).
Set a schedule. Make it fun by basing things off of a typical day at camp. Reveille is a successful wake-up technique! Section the day off into periods with start and end times. You might want to make a version of the Somer Sun, even if it means scribbling it down on a piece of paper and sticking it to the refrigerator. Structure and consistency matter now more than ever! Discuss shared goals and expectations and let them be part of the decision making process of what happens and when. This routine can provide comfort and reduce anxiety, especially in times of social disruption.
Make time for play. Playing has scientifically proven benefits on social and academic development. If your school curriculum doesn’t allow for enough recess, now is your chance to make it happen! Start the day by throwing a ball around or trying some family yoga. Can Dad do a downward-facing dog? This should help them focus when they sit down for school work. Schedule in playtime, art, and music throughout the day to keep them alert and engaged. Hand-eye coordination, core body strength, and fine and gross motor skills are all developed through play. These are also the skills that help your children sit still in class, write legibly with a pencil, and avoid a dodgeball at camp this summer.
Embrace Boredom. Unstructured play is an essential component of childhood development. It promotes problem-solving and creativity and builds tolerance. When the “I’m bored” chant begins, resist the urge to offer up solutions and let them figure it out.
Gamify your day. There are many ways to make the mundane elements of the day seem like a game. Make clean-up and inspection part of your daily schedule, and offer prizes for the cleanest room. Have a sock-matching race when sorting laundry. Make a scavenger hunt list to locate missing items (that’s what we do!). Get creative, and you’ll get a lot done!
You do you. There’s a chance this could be a marathon, not a sprint. You will be a better parent if you prioritize your own physical and emotional well-being. (Even our counselors get a day off once a week). Make time for yourself each day, pause from the news cycle now and then (find your tech-free time), and give yourself a break. Allow tech time for the kids to provide you with some alone time.
Change your scenery. Just like with Trip Day at camp, a visit to the park, a hike with the dog, or other outdoor activity will help with that stir-crazy feeling you may already be experiencing. Just be sure to practice social distancing!
This probably sounds familiar to those of you who went to camp, and many of you might already incorporate some of these practices. Perhaps over the next few weeks, some of these quarantine routines will become everyday traditions. Soon enough, this shall pass, and we’ll be back on the job in Maine, giving you a break you will so richly deserve!