What to do with your family while school is out



We do not know how long this pandemic will last or how long school will be out, and though it’s a scary time, maybe it could be considered a gift. It’s a chance to spend some real quality time at our homes and with our families. Our chief complaint as a society is never having enough time to do “all the things,” so perhaps we can take advantage of this situation and do some things we would never normally do.

Of course, if the way you make a living is hampered or you or a loved one is sick, it’s hard to take that outlook.

The following are some ideas intended to ease the strain of the next few weeks.

For those with kids and families who have to work from home:

Take a tip from homeschool moms who do this every day without having meltdowns. First things first, think: routine. Especially if you have to work in addition to feeding and taking care of pets, kids, and spouses. Maintaining familiarity and consistency is always important for kids, but even more so during tumultuous times like this.

  • Use this time as an opportunity to teach kids the basics of cooking, cleaning, and laundry so they can pitch in.
  • Have a daily schedule, even if it’s loose, so you can stay on track with meals, chores, playtime, and more academic pursuits, like reading.
  • Swap shifts with your partner or another adult, if possible. Either long shifts around 4 hours apiece or short shifts of around 30 minutes apiece so one of you has an eye on the kiddos while the other is able to focus on work.
  • Have “virtual” playdates for your kids with their friends or family members via Facetime or Zoom.

Family-friendly ideas:

After the kids have spring break, how about the following?

  • Come up with a list of spring cleaning to-dos (dusting the fan blades, anyone?) and outdoor tasks that need to be completed (do the gutters need a good cleaning?).
  • Read aloud. Not just to the little ones, but to everyone. This is a great way to engage the whole family and to expose kids to classics. Some of my favorites:
    • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (children’s/young adult)
    • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (young adult)
    • All Roald Dahl books (children/young adult)
    • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (children/poetry)
    • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (classic literary fiction)
    • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (classic literary fiction)
  • Go to the park
  • Go on walks with or without the dogs
  • Play outside in the yard
  • Look for four leaf clovers
  • Try to see how much of your canned or frozen goods you can use for meals
  • Find a way to help neighbors and elderly friends and family members stuck at home
  • Google the best family movies and pop some popcorn for a good old-fashioned movie night.
  • Dance party! Put on an 80s or 90s party music playlist from Pandora or YouTube and show your kids your moves.

For those bored and stuck at home:

  • Organize and spring clean everything in your house–kitchen, closets, entryway, garage, attic, junk drawer, old receipts, etc.
  • Catch up on your reading pile. Some of my favorites, should you not have a reading pile:
    • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
    • Finally start the Harry Potter/Game of Thrones/Outlander series
    • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    • The Tom Ripley series by Patricia Highsmith
  • Watch Oscar-winning films you haven’t seen yet
  • Watch some great documentaries, like Ken Burns’s recent one on the Vietnam War
  • Catch Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker on Netflix
  • Listen to some uplifting podcasts or Ted Talks
  • Start a new hobby (knitting, guitar, calligraphy, a foreign language, dominoes)
  • Try some new recipes.

What I will be doing:


  • Wash your hands
  • Practice social distancing
  • Greet people by bumping elbows, a la Jimmy Kimmel
  • Take your vitamin C
  • Don’t panic
  • Shop local as much as possible to help small business owners stay in business!

Despite the fear and anxiety we all feel on some level, let’s try to take one giant, collective deep breath and use this as time to reconsider our priorities and to spend some valuable time with family.

I am not a doctor so please do not take me literally if you are in any way sick or have a compromised immune system. Follow guidelines from reputable sources, including the Centers for Disease Control.

If you need more ideas or have suggestions for us, please get in touch at elizabeth.thompson@sapulpatimes.com. Stay safe and healthy out there!

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E. B. Thompson

E. B. Thompson

Born and raised in Sapulpa, Elizabeth has a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies and is a former banker. She is thrilled to be back in her hometown with her husband Michael and to be contributing to The Sapulpa Times.

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