Do you enjoy your quiet time? Do you get up earlier than your kids to have alone time? Are you hiding in your car or closet for alone time during these forced quarantine times?

What if I told you our kid’s need the same to recharge their batteries? It helps with kids getting along and wanting to play with each other without being forced to, and you getting more alone time…Say Whatt…

No matter how old your children are everyone needs some downtime to “just be” with themselves. Without some downtime, all children get over-stimulated, which eventually leads to crash, burn temper tantrums, big emotions etc.

I now work from home, doing online Speech therapy and emotional intelligence coaching. My husband works at home on calls and meetings all day.  We cannot have noise or interruptions while working and it’s been very difficult to meet that need.

If your children are at each other’s’ throats and you’re getting fed up, you’re not alone. My boys are getting on each other’s nerves it shows up in yelling, fighting, dogs barking, it sounds and feels like a circus at our house.

I knew I had to make changes and allow each child to get some quiet and downtime during this forced Quarantine.

This is a difficult time for all, we’re trying to feed, care for, tolerate, understand, motivate, teach, guide, our kids… we’re trying to keep them safe, healthy and busy while trying to hold down (or keep or find) jobs and keep our concerns about the future at bay. All this while many of our typical support systems have been stripped away. It’s a lot.

No matter how much your children like to play together and love each other, the likelihood that they are fighting harder and more often since the shelter-in-place started is pretty high. It is understandable. They are together ALL the time with fewer opportunities to have their own space.

We created a schedule for each of us to have “Quiet Downtime.” and have a “Quiet Time” Toolbox kit of planned activities to do during that time.  It’s been a game changer…I wanted to share some tips with you.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Be Proactive Schedule Daily alone time “personal space.”
  • Create a family schedule to stay sane. Be sure that Quiet Time or Me Time is part of each day, for everyone. Schedule it!
  • Be sure that everyone in your family has a way to withdraw to a quiet, cozy space when they need to. You may want to designate one room of your home as the “Quiet Room.” If your home is big enough, each person can have a room that is theirs, to withdraw to.
  • Plan out statements what you are going to say to you child that explains the importance of alone time and taking a break from each other “I know you like to play with Your sister, but sister is going to read right now alone at her (quiet spot.)
  • Create a “Quiet Time” Toolbox. Have planned activities of your child’s interest of what they can do alone by asking them “What would you like to do?” “Where would you like to be?” “What will be in your “Quiet Toolbox?”  My boys go to their rooms, each have a bean bag with activities they enjoy “Quiet Toolbox” contains (music playlist, sketchpad, legos, squishy toys, book series, dumbbells etc.)
  • Use headphones, so each child can have quiet and not be subjected to the rest of the family’s screen and music preferences.
  1. Help Kids Get Virtual Social Connection
  • Many children are suffering because of the social isolation. They miss playing with their friends. They miss being part of their group of schoolmates. Unfortunately, playing with their sibling sometimes isn’t much of a substitute.
  • Set up regular video “playdates” or hangouts for your child who misses their friends. Read previous article fo some ideas click here
  • If your child’s school has a Morning Circle or an afternoon Closing Circle, it’s worth structuring your day to be sure your child gets to participate. Or set one up for a few friends and do every morning at a schedule time virtually.
  • Step up your connection time with your children to help them play with each other, which meets everyone’s need for contact even if it isn’t your child’s first preference. Have planned activities to do, Legos, art, crafts baking time etc.
  1. Help with Big Emotions.
  • What are you feeling? Help your children notice where they feel emotions in their body. Is their stomach tight? Do they feel a burning sensation in their throats? Then, help them describe and express their feelings: “I am upset because my sister is touching my toys.” At first, they may need help coming up with words to describe what they feel; you can use this wheel of emotions to support your child.
  • Teach calming strategies. If children are in the danger zone, they will need support in order to calm down. There are many things that children can do to decrease the intensity of their emotions: taking a break from the sibling and game, pausing and counting to ten, taking 3 deep breaths, playing with a cuddling item (a special blanket or stuffed animal), or maybe sitting with you for a few minutes. At the beginning, children will need your help in using these strategies; you will need to do it together. Over time, they will be able to do it independently with little or no support. The best way to introduce these calming strategies is when things are going well and everybody is calm and content.
  • Offer Choices. When children show negative behaviors, they are communicating that something is not working for them. Providing children with alternative behaviors indicates that they have other options when they are in a conflict with a sibling. For example, you may suggest that they use their words to communicate the problem, play something else.  The key is teaching children that hurtful behaviors are avoidable.
  • Apologize. When feelings are hurt, we can support our children in making amends. The idea is to help the sibling who was hurtful to take some responsibility and the one who was hurt to heal. Amends should not be forced children should do them because they realize their behavior was not appropriate and want to do something to make the sibling feel better.

Let me know what else you are doing to keep your children from each other’s throats during Quarantine Forced Togetherness. What is in your child’s “Quiet Time” toolbox? Comment below!

Stay healthy and safe. Happy Parenting,

Tabatha Marden

 

 

 

Tabatha Marden