How to make it feel like a weekend when socially distanced
March 19, 2020 1:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm working from home from the foreseeable future, and my kids' school is closed indefinitely. My kids are in elementary school and one of them thrives on structure and routine, so on weekdays we'll be sticking loosely to a daily schedule. How can we differentiate weekends from weekdays without just watching movies all day (though of course we will be watching SOME movies)?

My kids are in first and second grade. Older kid needs a lot of sensory input and is very high energy. Kids get along well and are generally excellent. Our current schedule includes a mix of learning (school sent home three weeks' worth of activities), movement (dog walks, yoga, GoNoodle breaks, drumming), house stuff (chores, snacks), reading, and screen time. Afternoons and evenings are pretty much the same as before social distancing - playtime, dinner, bath or not, bed.

Our weekends almost always include some sort of trip out of the house because otherwise older kid gets stir-crazy and starts to melt down. Screen time also exacerbates her sensory stuff and makes it harder for her to function, so just watching TV all day would be actively bad for her. We are in upstate NY, so we go outside when we can but weather will not be consistently "nice" for at least a month, and I'm hesitant to head to a park, because I'm guessing we'll run into their friends and it will be too cruel to see friends and not be able to run around with them. What can we do to make weekends feel different and special in these bizarre times?
posted by SeedStitch to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Can you go for a hike? As long as it isn't raining heavily pretty much any weather is good for hiking - you just need to dress appropriately. My kids went for a bike ride and then to the nearby ravine today and we're going on a bigger hike, maybe around 2 hours, on Sunday when it will be sunny but just around freezing. They'll wear their light winter jackets, gloved and earmuffs and should be fine.

Also, can both of your kids ride a bike? I've been teaching my younger one, he's in SK, how to ride on the last 2 weekends. Might be a good time to teach them if they don't already know.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:32 PM on March 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

Theme days? Pajama day / crazy mixed up day / funny hat day / backwards day, etc?

We're also very into brunch. If a day starts with waffles or french toast, it's definitely a weekend.
posted by Mchelly at 1:46 PM on March 19, 2020 [5 favorites]

I really like the brunch idea--special meals seem like a great way to mark a different day, and can be applied to dinner, too, like making a long-simmered "sunday gravy" or a braised dish. If they're amenable, the kids can help with a particular aspect of the special dinner--stirring cookie batter or mashing potatoes or something, and that can be part of the weekend activity.

Maybe some sort of family game that's designated as a weekend game: charades or a board game?
posted by pykrete jungle at 1:55 PM on March 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

Kids can still run around outside together. Everyone should keep the 6 foot distance, but they can continue to hike, play frisbee, or whatever. Bikes are a good idea. It's easy for kids to hang out together at that kind of distance while bike riding.
posted by irisclara at 1:55 PM on March 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

Hiking seems like a great idea. Your kids have probably been playing outside all winter, so they should have appropriate clothing for whatever the temperature is. You could also try going to a farther away park in a different community where you won't run into people you know. You could have something like an Easter egg hunt or scavenger hunt. (In the yard if the weather permits or inside if the weather is terrible.) If you live in a place where it would be appropriate, you could build a small fire in your yard and make s'mores or cook hotdogs.
posted by Redstart at 2:05 PM on March 19, 2020

Yes yes, special meals! Brunch is good, or a complicated/time consuming Sunday meal (ideally something kids can help with). Candles on the table at meals? Maybe a tablecloth if you’ve got one handy? You could also try instituting some kind of tradition, like a Friday night family read aloud. i guess I’m kind of describing a sabbath!

And I agree that you can try to extend your definition of constitutes “good” or “good enough” weather - do I usually go for outdoor walks on 43-degree rainy days? I do not! But I did so today and with a raincoat it wasn’t bad.
posted by mskyle at 2:26 PM on March 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Are there any toys or activities that would be tiresome day after day that could be saved for the weekend? A puzzle you're working on that gets put away during the week? Unlikely to be as useful for the kids but different clothes worn on the the weekend?

I go stir crazy at home and have been hiking as much as possible lately.... as has everyone else. There were far too many people on my local trails for my liking and this was a midweek afternoon and a 3 hours hike. Perhaps you could play frisbee on a park lawn/ field, set up an obstacle course of some kind/ ride bikes/ something else that gets you out of the house.
posted by raccoon409 at 2:27 PM on March 19, 2020

At home camping. If you have a yard, a tent is always fun. Weekend only, maybe every other week or every 3rd week to keep it special.

Also, can you split up the kids in some way on the weekends so you and your partner take turns with each kid for special Dad and Kid 1 time, Mom and Kid 2 time? Then swap?

This situation may end up being more like a marathon than a sprint. So anyway you can mix it up on weekends so it’s not all four of you all the time might be a good idea. That lets each kid feel special thanks to mom-only and dad-only time. I hope you and your partner take turns with both kids as well so the other parent can go off and have some alone time and not go crazy. I am a gregarious introvert and not everyone needs alone time but many of us do. If you and/or your partner are the kind of folks who need alone time, please be kind to yourself and give yourself some of that alone time during the weekend.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:49 PM on March 19, 2020

Not necessarily camping camping. Like you wouldn’t necessarily need to sleep in there but your kids are still young enough that they probably still like things like tents.

Adults I know are having at home dance breaks daily. Might that be a weekend activity? Could help with the high-energy child.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:51 PM on March 19, 2020

When we had kids that age: every meal in the weekend is a potential picnic on the floor.Try out different places around the house to find the perfect spot.
posted by ouke at 3:38 PM on March 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think getting outdoors for longer periods and special meals definitely helps, no matter how you do it. I'm already seeing that *having* to use screens to communicate wears me out and non screen time is becoming more precious.
posted by emjaybee at 9:37 PM on March 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

Do you have space to garden? Being outside and physical might help, and weekends are when you have time to spend a few hours out there together. Could probably even pick up some seeds or starters at the grocery store, so no extra trip.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:31 PM on March 22, 2020

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