Let’s begin with the general disclaimer that we won’t be offering any medical advice in this blog post and suggest that you check out the CDC for the most recent updates in regards to COVID-19 and the most updated information.
Friends, these are strange times. The aisles are void of things like hand sanitizer, toilet paper and Clorox wipes. We can’t swipe through our phones without being bombarded with information from all sources about what we should be doing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We are using terms like “social distancing.” Church services are cancelled. Broadway has gone dark. Concerts, basketball games, Egg Hunts, travel, and more….all shut down. National treasure Tom Hanks is in quarantine.
Folks, none of us know what we are doing. Every single one of us is scrambling, learning new information hour by hour and day by day and doing our best with that knowledge. Making the adjustments we can, washing our hands, and hoping for the best. This is uncharted territory and we are all diving in without much of a map.
There is not a single person living right now who has ever parented during a global pandemic.
For many of us, having a plan can be helpful in taking the edge of the anxiety of the unknown in situations like this. It is our hope that this post will collect many of the resources you’ve been seeing flash across social media into one convenient location.
We’re in this together, parents. Let’s be gentle with one another and do our very best to help our entire community get through this as healthy as possible.
The New At Home Normal
Since Gov. Evers directed DHS to close schools statewide, parents with school-age kids across the state are scrambling to figure out not only how to handle their own working situation, but many are also now facing some sort of virtual education in the coming weeks. Add all this together and it equals a huge shift in the typical schedule with a large dose of chaos. Trying to establish some sort of “new normal” for the time being can be very helpful for the entire family.
We’ve got three FREE Routine + Daily Schedule Downloads available for you to download and customize for your use! Print them out and use these to help establish a routine and sense of normalcy in your family.
Check out The Busy Toddler. She recommends to use screen time as a tool when you need it and offers a sample elementary-aged schedule for balancing a longer break at home with kids:
7:00- Wake up/Get Dressed
8:00- Online Learning Activity
10:15- Motor Activity (obstacle course, exercise, Cosmic Kids Yoga)
11:30- Quiet/Nap Time (encourage independent reading, a movie, whatever works)
1:00- 2nd Online Learning Activity
2:00- Art activity (coloring, mazes, use whatever supplies are on hand!)
3:00- End of “School Day” and begin “Free Time”
The more you can try to keep to some sort of a schedule, kids of all ages will know what to expect and it can also be helpful for parents who are unexpectedly finding themselves trying to work from home. Cut yourself some slack and remember that things won’t be perfect. We’re all figuring this out as we go!
Learning at Home
We don’t really know for sure how long the at-home learning will be necessary, but thankfully there have been many resources popping up online who are offering free access to assist parents during this time.
Because Internet will be required for virtual learning, Spectrum is offering free access to Wifi for 60 days to students who don’t currently have access.
- Try ABCMouse FREE for 30 days! (affiliate link)
- Scholastic Learn at Home has created a FREE fantastic hub for students K-12 with daily learning experiences. Just find your grade level and let the learning begin!
- Khan Academy has active instructions for continuing education for those affected by the Coronavirus. Their mission is to “provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.”
- This resource on KidsActivities.com lists out DOZENS of education companies offering free resources during school closings!
- Take a Virtual Tour of a Museum! 12 famous museums are offering virtual museums so students can explore the world from the safety of their homes.
- Get artistic with free online art lessons for kids and adults from Wild Free and Crafty!
- Do Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems via video!
- Host an at-home Cooking Camp with Raddish! With lots of easy to follow digital recipes, this website has tons of culinary creations your kids will enjoy. You can also sign up for their Monthly Cooking Club for Kids! This affiliate link gets you $20 off plus a free E-kit!
- Go on a Virtual Field Trip! There are so many awesome places to “travel” like the surface of Mars, Yellowstone National Park, the San Diego Zoo, and more!
Check out these tips from MkeMom Writer Jess, a veteran homeschool mom, prepared specifically for those of us who have been suddenly thrust into this role!
Lake Country Family Fun has a great post of 40+ Social Distancing Ideas for kiddos in Lake Country and beyond!
Our friends at Madison Mom suggest the following:
- WhyVille: “Whyville is a virtual world where children ages 8 to 15 play, explore, create and learn together.” The focus is on math play and interactive engagement.
- FunBrain: “Created for kids in grades Pre-K through 8, Funbrain.com has been the leader in free educational games for kids since 1997. Funbrain offers hundreds of games, books, comics, and videos that develop skills in math, reading, problem-solving and literacy.”
- National Geographic Kids: An interactive website of the National Geographic Kids Magazine content in an informative and fun platform. Learn about animals and climates across the globe with recommended learning activities and games!
Staying Active During Quarantine
Part of caring for our mental health during this time will be making sure we are moving our bodies and keeping our kids active too! The good news is that outdoor activities like hiking, biking, etc. are perfectly safe for social distancing protocol. If you’re looking for more options for working out at home, we’ve got you covered!
Working Out at Home
- Check out our Guide to Working Out at Home During Quarantine : This guide includes numerous FREE options available online including yoga, YouTube videos you can do with your kids, and more.
- Get creative with your kids instead of thinking you have to double as the PE teacher. Make a backyard obstacle course, set up challenges between siblings, crank the music and have a dance party, or count cleaning as exercise!
Meeting the Needs of the Community
School closings take away access to regular meals for many students who rely on the free and reduced lunch program. Plus, there are many in our community who will be struggling to find access to basic needs during this time when many community resource centers will inaccessible and public transit should be avoided.
- MPS is opening several locations for students to get access to free meals as well as daily learning materials that will not require Internet access.
- Donate to Hunger Task Force
- Donate to Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeastern Wisconsin
- Community Care and Mutual Aid Sign-Up: To sign up for simple efforts to help those in need with things like meal prep and delivery, transportation, check-ins on the elderly, etc. CLICK HERE.
- Casa de Corazon in Shorewood is offering temporary child care for children of health care workers and emergency first responders for kiddos age six weeks to five years old. Email them at [email protected] with your child’s name, age, days of the week, and end date.
Follow the Facts and Flatten the Curve
Before this week, most of us had never heard the term “social distancing” before. Disrupting our regular schedules, avoiding public places, cancelling plans, and committing to a form of isolation feels WEIRD. And there is so much information out there that it can feel very overwhelming.
- Coronavirus and Parenting: What You Need to Know (from NPR)
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services on COVID-19
- How to Flatten the Curve (Washington Post)
- Talking to Kids about COVID-19 (NASP)
The good news is that social distancing doesn’t have to stop us from enjoy the fresh spring air! Use our guide to local parks (wash your hands before and after!) and hiking trails to stay active in an outdoor setting where germs are less likely to spread quickly. Remember to dress for the unpredictable spring weather and make it an educational opportunity as well as a chance to get out of the house!
Support Small Businesses
Our friends at Madison Mom said it so well, “It’s going to be more important than ever to support local businesses.”
“Imagine that you are an event entertainer or venue or event rental company (or janitor or hourly employee) and you make your income solely from events and that this weekend alone you had seven events cancel on you. Now what? Imagine that you are a local restaurant (or server), but people are staying home instead of dining out. Now what? Imagine that you are a boutique hotel or a travel agency, but no one is traveling. Now what? Imagine that you are a local clothing boutique, but people are worried about buying anything beyond absolute necessities at the moment. Now what?” – Madison Mom
How You Can Support Local Small Businesses During COVID-19:
- Consider purchasing gift certificates to your favorite local establishments. Restaurants, locally owned shops, play-spaces, etc. Many will be shut down for the foreseeable future and facing significant financial losses so having those gift certificate sales could make all the difference. Here’s a great resource from Milwaukee Downtown to help you support your favorite area small businesses in these difficult times.
- Plan ahead for things like birthday parties later in the year or book your kiddos into a local Summer Camp.
- LIKE, SHARE AND COMMENT. Believe it or not, your interaction on social media with your favorite local companies will make a huge difference in helping them through these times. And it’s FREE!
Order Food for Carry-Out, Curbside or Delivery from Your Favorite Local Restaurants:
To combat the closures, many Milwaukee-area restaurants have begun offering carry-out, curbside pick-up or delivery options as a way to serve their customers and employ as much staff as possible. Some are even offering special menus and family-style dinner kits. Check out THIS GUIDE to local Milwaukee Restaurants who are making good food happen!
*Milwaukee Mom is also a small, locally owned and operated business that strives to support and enrich our local community. While the economic impact is less direct with our industry, it is still affecting our business through having to cancel or postpone events (that we worked on for nearly a year) and through partners who are seeing their industries suffer. We believe that we are all stronger together and are grateful to be part of such a wonderful community!