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A few nights ago I woke up at 2 am with a pit in my stomach. Maybe I read too many news articles before going to bed, but I woke up feeling like I needed a plan for the coronavirus. I jotted down a few quick notes about all the thoughts swirling in my head and fell back to sleep.
In the morning I discussed my feelings with my husband. I expected him to reassure me and tell me that I was worrying for nothing. He is a former military officer and is generally the unshakeable voice of reason in our house.
Instead, he told me to trust my gut. If my gut was telling me to prepare our household for a possible pandemic, then I should do it.
Preparing for a possible quarantine with kids makes it a little trickier. There is not only the issue of requiring more food and basic household supplies on hand.
There is also the need to help young impressionable children through an extended period of time stuck inside away from friends and activities.
In general, homeschooling through a quarantine is likely easier than other school options. We are the superintendent, principal and teacher all in one. We are the sole decision maker on when we are going to stop attending outside classes.
Homeschool families do not have to wait for an official quarantine if their gut is telling them to keep their families home. Basically, we get to make the rules.
Preparing for Quarantine with Kids
I shared a photo of my packed Costco cart on instagram stories the other day and mentioned that I was stocking up in case we ended up stuck inside for awhile.
Several moms reached out and asked what I suggested they have on hand.
Now, let me qualify all of this with the disclaimer that I am not a survival/pandemic/prep expert of any kind.
I am just a mom sharing my plans and encouraging you to think through plans for your own family.
Stock up on food and household essentials
The first line of preparation includes:
- cleaning supplies
I take a layering approach to food preparation. That means I want to have fresh and frozen produce, quick snacks and meals, and ingredients that can be used to cook and bake our family favorites.
In my house this looks like:
- fresh fruit and vegetables – family favorites including long lasting staples such as apples and potatoes
- dairy products – milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, and eggs
- canned foods – soup, coconut milk, peanut butter, beans, tuna and tomatoes
- boxed foods – pasta, crackers, cereal, almond milk, coffee/tea, and nuts
- frozen – freezer meals, meat, breakfast sandwiches, bread, fruits, and veggies
- ingredients – almond flour, oatmeal, rice, baking soda/powder, spices, chocolate chips, honey, and yeast
Don’t forget to stock up on food for your family pets too.
It might be a good idea to refill any prescription medications early, if possible. This can be a little tricky when dealing with health insurance, but pharmacists are really good at knowing how to work with them.
When we lived in Washington I always kept an extra month of my prescription medication on hand just in case of an earthquake. The pharmacist was able to code it in a way that it was covered by insurance.
In addition to prescriptions, check on your stock of over the counter medications that your family uses. My family is generally healthy, but I always like to have a few medications/health resources on hand:
- ibuprofen (adult and child doses)
- allergy medication
- thermometer with fresh batteries
If your pets require medication, make sure that you have extra available. My sweet elderly pup is currently on two medications to help with arthritis and cancer, so we are making early refill plans.
Cleaning supplies are a necessary part of daily life. Being able to keep our spaces clean could help prevent the spread of illness among family members. It also allows us to keep a clean and tidy home . . . which seems important if we are stuck inside.
I always feel better when my house is clean, so it is important to me to have plenty of cleaning supplies on hand.
I like to make sure that I have these supplies on hand:
- laundry detergent
- floor cleaner
- granite cleaner
- disinfectant cleaner
- dish soap and dishwasher tabs
- paper towels
- trash bags
- bleach (the disinfectant nature of bleach has a shelf life of one year)
- hand soap
Plan to keep kids busy
Once we have plans in place to stock our homes with basic necessities, it is time to turn our attention to our kids.
We need a plan for keeping our kids busy and occupied. This will help everyone in the family work through the challenges that come with being quarantined.
Thankfully, the list of ways to keep kids busy is pretty long. A little advance planning can keep kids happily engaged.
My kids have always enjoyed crafting, so I try to keep my craft cabinet well stocked all of the time.
Some of the things you might want to keep on hand are:
- water color paints
- tempera paint
- paint brushes
- play dough
It is possible to make homemade tempera paint and play dough. If you plan to do this, make sure you add extra ingredients to your grocery shopping list.
Related: Gift Ideas for Crafty Kids
Science projects and experiments
Always running out of time to do science projects and experiments with your kids? Now is your chance!
If we are going to be stuck inside, we might as well tackle all of those science experiments we have been putting off.
The internet is full of science projects for kids, but there are also plenty of science kits available on Amazon.
Make sure to purchase any necessary supplies before quarantining your family. It is incredibly frustrating to get ready to do an experiment with kids only to realize that you are missing a key ingredient.
Baking is a great way to keep kids busy when stuck indoors. It keeps kids occupied, it produces something useful (food), and it can even help young children practice real life math skills.
We won’t be able to run to the store if everything is closed, so plan ahead with a few ideas of recipes you can bake with your children ahead of time.
Some ideas include:
- bread (banana bread is one of our favorites)
- donuts (a donut bar makes for a fun dessert!)
- pizza crust
Reading with my kids is one of my favorite ways to pass some extra free time.
Now is a great time to round up those forgotten books that are gathering dust on the bookshelf.
If you find that you need a few new titles, try downloading digital copies from your local library. Many libraries partner with apps, such as Overdrive or Libby, to make obtaining digital books super easy.
Digital library books are a great option because:
- you don’t need to leave your house
- no germy hands touched the book
Reading is a great way to keep kids learning during a quarantine. Try adding in a new title based on a homeschool lesson, a current interest, or even to explore a different genre.
Related: Book Lists
Kids have a ton of energy. It is our job to help them get that energy out.
If we are going to be quarantined with kids, we need to think of ways to help our kids move their bodies without leaving the house.
Our normal options of going to the trampoline park, running around the park with friends, and going to the rock climbing center are out, so we have to get creative.
A few options to help kids get out their wiggles include:
- crank up the music and have a dance party
- set up an obstacle course
- Frozen inspired yoga
- workout videos
- a round of ‘the floor is lava’ with all of the pillows in the house is always a good way to get the heart rate up
Maintain a Routine
Kids do best when they have a general routine. They need to know the plan for the day.
It helps kids feel more comfortable. It also prevents them from asking you what is next all day long.
Homeschool families might be able to keep their normal routine for the most part. However, it might be helpful to think through any potential changes.
- Do we need to to rearrange our schedule so the house is quiet certain hours in case a parent needs to work from home?
- Will co-op be cancelled? Do we need to figure out a plan to teach those courses at home?
- How can we ensure that the extroverts get enough together time while the introverts have enough alone time?
Lastly, we need to prepare for the emotional ramifications of a quarantine. This big of a change in routine can be scary, frustrating, boring, and well, just about every possible emotion.
Being aware of the emotional challenges our kids will face, and having the above plans in place, can go a long way towards helping everyone feel okay about being stuck in the house.
Journaling is a good way for kids, and adults, to get all of their emotions out in a safe way. A fancy journal is not necessary. A school notebook, a few pieces of paper stapled together, or a computer document will all work well.
Unlike quarantines of previous centuries, we have technology on our side. We can stay connected with friends and family via the internet. Encourage kids to collect the email addresses friends now so that they can still chat if they can’t see each other for a while.
Is it possible that this will blow over and not be an issue?
Absolutely. My tween son reminds me daily that I am likely overthinking all of this.
I would much rather be prepared and not need to use the extra supplies than find myself, and my children, unprepared during an emergency situation.
UPDATE: Just a few days after writing this post my family found out that we were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19. Thankfully, everything was already in place for a self-imposed quarantine. The transition to a quarantine was as peaceful as possible. We were fortunate to not come down with the virus and are still healthy. Our quarantine is now over, but we are prepared for another, just in case.
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