My kids are thriving on our Coronavirus-imposed schedule and no one is more surprised than me! And I’m even kind of loving our shelter in place life. When I heard that schools were closing for many weeks, I cried real tears. Not in an internet meme, now we have to spend time with our kids kind of way, but with a deep awareness of what the loss of structure and educational support would do for my behavioral special needs kiddos and other families like ours that depend on routine for their sanity.

Two weeks in, I’m amazed and grateful to say that my children are happy and healthy during this social distancing! They are getting along with each other, playing with toys I haven’t seen them use in YEARS. They are spending time fishing at the creek, exploring the woods, and building a treefort. I’m so grateful that they have come together, that they are enjoying their new schedules, and are making the most of every day.

After my initial freak out on what our loss of schedule and interventions would mean, I mapped out how we could make the Shelter in Place experience better for our family…or at least, not make it worse. My plan included enough structure and responsibility so that our kids would know what to expect each day, feel good about contributing to the household, and value their free time because they would have to earn it. My husband took a look at my plan and predicted he would actually like our kids better at the end of quarantine and all of this social distancing!

Yes, it’s true that we’ve eliminated a lot of positive influences over our kids. There’s a gap left by the teachers, youth leaders, and coaches who used to pour into my kids everyday and take part of the load off me. But, what if we have also eliminated the majority of the negative influences from our children’s lives? You know, the bullies, the kids that they feel competitive towards that bring out the worst in them, the older children on the bus they hear things they shouldn’t from. The social distancing ordinance has kept my kids sheltered from more than just COVID-19!

We are fostering our children’s closest and most positive relationships over zoom and facetime. Instead of the usual side-by-side play, the long distance relationships are teaching my kids how to have conversations, which I believe is a skill that will benefit them throughout their lives.

With gentle reminders, my kids are picking up after themselves and are contributing in ways they didn’t have time for when they were rushing in the door from school and back out again for sports practice. We have a scheduled bedtime and wake up time that all three boys adhere to. They are well rested and less stressed. No one is ever rushing around or sitting in a car while we shuttle siblings to and fro. They help plan meals and participate in making the food. We all five sit down for family dinner to a set table daily where we converse and engage with our loved ones.

My kids seem more confident as they take responsibility for much of their education. They are more creative. My kids are saving up their money, because when they get their allowance, they can’t run right out and spend it. They are more grateful for what they do have and are very aware that it could be worse. Did I mention they are getting along with each other?

Do I want this shelter in place new normal to be our forever life? Whoa…I wouldn’t go that far! I miss eating out, going places in my car (anywhere) and seeing my mom friends, hair stylist and nail tech as much as the next girl. But, I do consider our quarantine life to be a valuable experience and one that has positive takeaways that we will bring with us when we return to life as we knew it.

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