We’re all finding ourselves in new versions of normal right now, trying our best to adapt, be positive, keep healthy, and do our part. For many of us, that means staying home. It’s an adjustment even for a homebody like myself, so I can only imagine what it’s like for parents across the world who now can’t send their kids to camp, daycare, or school.
Father of two Jimmy Fallon, who is currently hosting a hilarious at-home edition of his talk show, joked on a recent episode that since the 2020 Summer Olympics are being postponed, the medals will instead be going to any parents “stuck at home with a kid under five.” Wisecracks aside, though, it must be really tough.
A great place to start for keeping kids entertained is online, including resources from Scholastic’s Learn at Home program; Khan Academy; Busy Toddler, and National Geographic Kids. Apps can provide learning-based activities, too, such as Chrome Music Lab and Bedtime Math. On an even more interactive level, Josh Gad (voice of Frozen’s Olaf) is doing storybook readings on his Twitter account, and Disney is hosting YouTube drawing workshops with its animators.
Still, I wanted to speak with a parent going through these changes right now—so I reached out to blogger, content creator, wife, and mom of three adorable kidlets Oksana Silchuk. Human connection is at the heart of everything we do at Basenotes; it’s why almost all of our interviews are conducted in-person. Of course, this is not possible right now, so instead I sent Silchuk some questions via email to learn more about how she’s keeping her kids happy at home.
Let’s start with the important stuff. How are you doing right now?
I heard someone say that this virus outbreak is making them feel like “we’ve all been sent to our rooms to think about what we did.” I can completely relate. I am taking time to reflect and really value what it means to be healthy and alive. I think hard situations have a way of showing the power of our faith and community, and that our attitude is everything.
How has your family routine changed as news of the coronavirus pandemic has evolved?
My husband and I are doing everything in our power to protect ourselves, our three kiddos, and everyone around us. All while trying to turn the panic into patience that is fuelled by prayer. Easier said than done. To sum it up, we are staying home and only leaving to pick up groceries and work.
How old are your kids, and how have they been reacting to this change in routine so far?
Our oldest son Zion is a kindergartener; Chloe is four; and little Wesley is a year and a half. The kiddos are sad that school is closed but they are not complaining about the extra snuggles and family time—and that is what I consider richness in life. I have to say that they are bonding on a whole new level right now.
What are your top tips for parents who have young kids at home and are looking for ways to keep them occupied and entertained?
My kiddos will do anything that makes them feel important and part of a team. Here are some things we’ve been enjoying at our nest:
- Chores. Unloading the dishwasher, setting up the table, vacuuming, folding laundry.
- Arts and crafts. Especially the privilege of using scissors and glue while baby brother naps.
- Baking. But I will warn you: kids have no concept of time, so it feels like time stands still while things are cooking! Our favourite recipe is one passed down from Grandpa Donald Wildeboer; he passed away, but his memory lives on.
Grandpa Donald’s French Toast
- 5 eggs
- 8 slices of bread
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 3/4 cup of sugar
Preheat the frying pan. Mix the eggs, milk, and sugar together. Dip the bread into the mixture and fry on both sides. Add blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, or any fruit of choice. [Editor’s note: Food Network also has a lot of great suggestions for what to bake with the little ones.]
- Exercise. Comes in our favourite form, known as a dance party.
- Talking. Our kids are talkers, so they love to feel heard and significant. We’ve had some “deep” conversations. They love to tell stories.
- Showers. A hot shower and a chill popsicle is the best combo; it’s our kids’ favourite thing ever. It gives me a solid 30 minutes to myself, too. A win-win situation.
- FaceTime. Letting the kids catch up with their BFFs.
- Decluttering. We took a moment to make a pile of toys to donate. We also swapped the kids’ closets with summer gear.
How are you taking care of yourself during all of this?
Washing hands often. Staying home. And my favourite: keeping our diffuser running with go-to oils Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Tea Tree. The Lavender and Eucalyptus oils bring in the feeling of a calm oasis, and Tea Tree contains much-needed antibacterial properties.
Any final thoughts?
We can take this difficult moment in history to show our children that life is not void of struggles. Teaching them how to navigate through struggles, uncertainty, and discomfort will be the best way to shape their little hearts for all the things that are still ahead. Let us stay positive together.
This interview has been edited and condensed.