I don’t know about you all, but this COVID-19 event hit our house pretty hard. Thanks to my (still classified) adventures in the CIA during Arab Spring, my family has been through a society collapsing event before, so that part wasn’t really a big deal. We are generally pretty prepared with endless amounts of food, supplies, the ability to protect ourselves, and the mentality to endure hardship. But we hadn’t gone through such an event with a 4th and 1st grader, which is more challenging than your run-of-the-mill war breaking out.
We are a pretty active family. We have sports every night of the week and our free time on the weekends is centered around other family activities like hiking, biking, and more sports. Oh, and most importantly, game night at my buddy’s house which has pretty much been a weekly thing since before the kids even entered the picture. Nothing is quite like BBQ, drinking, and socializing with friends after a week of work. Nothing was quite like it, at least.
The pandemic hitting right at the beginning of Spring Break seemed like fantastic timing. Until the cancellations came flooding in. For us, it started with Little League cancelling practices. Then the Spring Break basketball camp was out followed by the basketball league. The gym all closed so jiu-jitsu practice and tournament were gone as was their travel ball team. To top it off, school shut the doors for good. No sports, no school, no friends.
The kids did alright for the first week or two. No issues, just more free time which they already spend outside playing anyways. We continued to practice sports at home and hit the fields by ourselves a few times a week. But then it started getting to my oldest kid. He realized this wasn’t temporary, that he won’t be doing anything or seeing anyone for quite some time. He was devastated and his mood reflected this. Normally, I have the easiest, most chill kids. They work hard, don’t cause any issues, and make me think a third kid might not be such a bad idea…
Fortunately, all the organizations we are a part of began getting creative and hosting Zoom practices a few weeks into the crisis. We had basketball, baseball, and jiu-jitsu going again, just a little differently. We were already getting used to the whole school Zoom thing with my kids’ really awesome teachers.
But it wasn’t enough.
COVID-19 Scheduling 101
So, I put together a spreadsheet of a college-style schedule broken into 30-minute segments for each day of the week. We sat down and just started filling in the schedule with their Zoom activities leaving plenty of time for free time, park time, and unstructured play. We made sure to outline morning and evening responsibilities, reading time, school work time, and workout time.
To top it off, we added an elective course: piano! I have been teaching my wife and oldest son and my wife now teaches my youngest as extra practice for herself (and me spending half my day teaching piano isn’t going to happen!). Surprisingly, everyone is actually starting to get pretty decent!
The schedules are posted on the doors of the boys’ rooms and in a few other convenient places in the house. We modify it here and there, but we keep the core ideas in place.
Everything changed for the better in our house immediately after we developed the schedules. Structure was back in place and new skills were being developed. We were back to spending time together doing the activities we loved and lost thanks to the pandemic. My kids weren’t the biggest video game players before, but it is now their opportunity to hang out with their friends and it is encouraged.
While we are missing out on a lot, life still goes on. We are just adjusting. Click this link for a spreadsheet of the schedule I created. Good luck out there and stay safe!
Reno Dads is all about exploring fatherhood in all its glory. If you enjoyed this article, check out some of my CIA things to do with kids articles: Surveillance Detection, Teaching Kids Situational Awareness (expanded discussion on our podcast) and 15 Travel Tips From Former Undercover CIA Officers for more strategies on keeping your family safe and entertained. As always, thanks for your support. Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.