Family Schedule on Quarantine
“Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house.” (Proverbs 24:27 ESV)
As the world continues to change around us almost hour by hour, it can be easy to forget the very practical instruction of the Bible for daily life. With people out of work, 91,000 schools closed or closing before spring break, both kids and parents at home, and life rhythms significantly disrupted, the practical truth of verses like this come alive in a way that may not have been considered previously. This verse focuses on preparedness. It emphasizes thinking through work that needs to be done, preparing for it and having a plan, and then executing the plan.
For families who have been thrust together in a brand-new life situation, preparedness for the season ahead can have a big impact on how well it goes and even result in growing together through it. But for this to be accomplished with the most life-giving ease, it requires planning. Generally speaking, our lives are routine. From work, to school, to extracurricular sports, Awana, and everything else in between, both parents and kids are accustomed to having a plan and knowing what’s coming next. One of the single most significant things that families can do, even in the midst of self-quarantine and limited access to the amenities of life, is establish a routine that will create a new normal in your home. This will help you as parents thrive, and create an environment that will better allow your kids to do so as well.
So how do you go about doing this? We follow the instruction of Proverbs 24:27 and we create a plan.
I recommend using something like Google calendar, or the calendar app on your phone, that will give you an hour-by-hour breakdown. You want the ability to break your day down into manageable chunks and see what’s coming next to create a new routine.
When you finish the remaining steps, print it if you can, and talk through it with your family.
While it is very easy to treat all of this newfound time like a partial vacation, the whole of your family will likely thrive with as much normality as possible. So, if you and your kids were accustomed to getting up at 6:30am for breakfast before work and/or school, it would be good if those components of your routine were maintained. Use as many of your previous routines as you can. This will help your whole family find a new normal and still feel familiar.
Many of your kids have e-learning, homework, and various scholastic responsibilities. There are also increasing numbers of moms, dads, and caregivers who have to work from home. All of the responsibilities related to these things need to get accomplished. These are opportunities to increase self-discipline for everyone. So build your schedule around the essentials.
I would also encourage you to build in breaks. In the work world, many adults are familiar with getting up and taking a walk, grabbing a cup of coffee or something else to drink, and taking short breaks throughout the day. Your kids are accustomed to recess and/or times of social interaction between classes. You need to do what you can to maintain these things for all of you. Consistent breaks, bursts of exercise, maybe letting your middle or high schooler hop on social media or FaceTime with their friends—these are all good ideas. Further, given the looming reality of lengthy quarantine, you will likely need breaks from one another. Build these into your schedule.
Relatedly, a good 3b step that could be built in is to schedule space. In the middle of the day, maybe right after lunch, schedule an hour of quiet time. Give everyone the opportunity to retreat to their respective space, and have a little bit of alone time. For younger kids, this will be a nap time. For older kids, it may be beneficial for them to go and read or just have a little bit of distance. Obviously, this is a good time for moms, dads, and caregivers to get work done or have a little bit of quiet time themselves. But the important take away is to build in the expectation that everyone has a little bit of distance from each other, or at least quiet time, in order to maximize the lion’s share of the day.
In addition, children between the ages of 2 and 12 are typically boiling with energy. They need the ability to expel that energy. You’ve probably seen that when they do not have the ability to do that, they may act out a little bit. Research has repeatedly shown that a child’s ability to expend energy is good for not just their body, but their emotional health and well-being as well. Take your children outside. Let them run up and down the block. Have them run around the backyard. If you are stuck inside, do jumping jacks or look on YouTube for indoor exercise ideas. There are lots of ideas out there. The goal is to simply give your kiddos the opportunities they will need to burn latent energy. Build this into your schedule so that they have something to look forward to throughout the day.
The reality of this cultural event is that we will all be spending a lot of close-contact time with our loved ones. But this breeds a host of new, awesome opportunities for our families to grow together! Thinking of verses like Ephesians 6:4, we are taught by the Apostle Paul to train and instruct our children in the Lord. Schedule time for your family to do this.
For those of you who might be thinking: “I have not been consistent at doing this before…” that is some of the joy of this cultural event. You have a unique opportunity to tell your family “we are doing something new,” and simply start a daily time for “family worship,” “home-church,” or “home-Awana,” memorizing Bible verses together, reading the Bible, praying together, etc. without needing to consider the inconsistencies of the past. This is an amazing and rare privilege! Parents—please—do not miss the opportunity to shepherd your family in the Lord. This is a gift from God to moms, dads, and caregivers to start fresh with essential spiritual disciplines.
For those of you who might be thinking: “I have no idea how to even start that.” Reach out to Melissa Anderson, our Bethel Kids Director at Crown Point, Ellyn Krusza at Cedar Lake, Kari Corbin at Hobart/Portage, or Angi Briggs at Gary. Or, you can connect with one of the pastoral staff. We are happy to resource, equip, and support you in this season!
I’d also recommend a time of family communication. Talk with your kids through what God is teaching you in this new season of life. Be open and honest with them. And then give them the opportunity to share as well, commensurate to age and maturity. Talk through how everyone is thinking and feeling. The more you and your family are able to communicate, the less likely things are to get tense.
Family movie night(s). Board games. Create a way to bowl down a long hallway. Maybe find that old Nintendo, play “Super Mario Brothers,” and show your kids how video games used to be. No matter what you do, prioritize time to have fun, both together and by yourselves. Scheduled, unstructured time will be helpful for all to maintain some sense of identity and give everyone something to look forward to.
Parents: God has given us a very unique opportunity here, one that may not come again in our lifetimes! I cannot encourage you enough to schedule yourselves and organize your lives in such a way that will not just yield a healthy home environment, but gains in the life of your family for the kingdom of God. My prayer is these simple scheduling steps will help you to that end!
If you are in need of specific help or guidance, please do not hesitate to email the staff: a great first point of contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in need of specific counseling help, please fill out the intake form.
You are loved, Bethel Church! We look forward to celebrating what God does in your families in the days ahead!