About a month ago, many of us were complaining that we were too busy, that life was moving too quickly, and that we wished we had more time to spend with our families. And now? Well, now we aren’t really sure what to do with all this unscheduled–and forced–family time, courtesy of COVID-19.
None of us saw this coming. We had no idea that our kids’ Little League seasons were going to be nonexistent, that our trips would be canceled, that we wouldn’t be able to attend church services/activities, or that we would be [Gasp!] homeschooling! We didn’t prepare for any of this, and it’s taken many of us a week or two of denial before we got serious about how we are going to adjust and handle this quarantined lifestyle.
Whether we realize it or not, our kids are watching our responses–often taking their thought and behavior cues from us. How are we responding to the daily news and to all this time at home together? Are we scared? Angry? Blaming? Unmotivated? Irritable? Lazy? Or are they seeing a different response in us? Maybe one of faith, peace, self-discipline, joy, praise, or even gratitude? Not gratitude for the Coronavirus but gratitude for the time.
Parents, this is a prime opportunity for us to lead our families!
We have never experienced a time like this in our lives. And although we hope to see the end of it come sooner rather than later, we can still make this a time that is meaningful for our families.
Are there things you’ve always wished you had done with your kids? Do it now. Never got in the practice of reading Scripture together or having a family devotion time? This is the perfect time to start. Use this time to build good habits, routines, new traditions. We’ve been told all along not to rely on the church staff to fully disciple our kids; it is our job as parents to disciple them. And now we have an intense time to do so. Start small. Don’t get long-winded or overly ambitious. It doesn’t need to be formal; make it a natural conversation. It’s better to leave them wanting more than to watch them wonder when it’s going to be over.
Be creative with your time together.
Incorporate games, music, shows/movies, art, house projects, walks around the neighborhood. Look for teachable moments as you go through your days together. Set aside some time together every day where everyone is face-to-face and no one is distracted by a screen. Have real conversations. Listen to each other, support honesty about how everyone is feeling, and pray for each other. Look for ways to encourage each other. Don’t waste endless hours on Netflix; use this time to work on deeper relationships with your family. (Note: I’m not saying never watch Netflix. Just don’t spend the whole day on it. Even better–find something you can all watch together.)
This time of quarantine with our families was quite unexpected, but we can treat it as an unexpected gift by making good use of it. And when we slowly, cautiously reenter the world when this is all over, may we look back on this unusual time with no regrets for how we spent our days.