Hey there! I’m Kea McGinty, stay at home mom of 4 (9yrs, 6yrs, 3yrs, & 1yr), WarmLine volunteer, and fellow quarantine warrior. On a normal day, I can be easily overwhelmed with the responsibilities of wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, and any other me’s I need to be. Though I have grown much in my 9 yrs of mothering, I still do NOT handle change, especially sudden change, very well at all. So needless to say, I am struggling with this time we find ourselves in at the moment. As I headed into this quarantine season with the prospect of homeschooling my kindergartner and third grader again (this was our first year in public school), I was determined to face this overwhelming sudden change in plans with organization and excitement. I got the schedule together that would guide our day, put alarms in my phone to keep us to it, and organized the home office and packets of work the school had sent home. Everything was set and everything was running smoothly. I felt like I had conquered this bombshell.
Then we got the notice that the kids will not be returning to school after Easter break. Bummer I thought, but we have a good thing going here so I’m not too upset. We continue in our schedule, and things are going well. My excitement, about this time, is starting to wear off, but I keep it together and enjoy my blessings. Then we get the notice that the kids will not be heading back to school at all this school year. Something inside me snapped. This time of quarantine no longer felt like a brief pause to enjoy some extra family time nor did it feel like an exciting challenge to be conquered. As I looked forward and saw 2 months of solid quarantine homeschooling leering ahead of me, I panicked. I became easily angered, easily emotional, and then numb and DONE! I knew in order to be the mommy I had to be, I needed to give myself something to look forward to each week, something to plan. That’s the moment I decided on these 4 special days: Film Friday, Scavenger Hunt Saturday, No Signal Sunday, and Mystery Monday! In case you are like me and need to add a boost to your family routine during this time, here are some details about each day.
This is family movie nigh t beefed up. For this day, we transform the living room into a movie theater and the dining room into a concession stand. We have dinner a bit early, then we send the kids out in the backyard to play while we transform the house. We roll away the carpet, set the dining room chairs in rows in the living room, set up our movie screen, and connect our projector to my husband’s laptop.
FYI – We don’t have a TV, so that is why we do it this way. If you just want to use your TV that’s easier, but the screen and projector just add a more movie theater feel to things. Also you could do it in the backyard after the sun goes down to add a bit of fresh air. We don’t do this because our kids go to bed with the sun.
Now for the concession stand. This is the kids favorite part. We pop popcorn on the stove and fill the cute little paper popcorn containers I got at the grocery store. I bought bags of candy (several varieties), mini soda cans, and juice boxes (my daughter is not a soda drinker). I arrange all the goodies on the table with the popcorn. As we ‘open’ our theater, they come in the dining room (I am the concessionaire), pick out their snacks and head into the living room to pick their seats (my husband is the usher).
Two more things, their ‘money’ to get things at the concession stand is earned by eating their dinner nicely, and their ‘ticket’ to get to see the movie was having put on their jammies (being already for bed).
Scavenger Hunt Saturday:
This is our out of the house day. We pack snacks, water, and a picnic lunch, load up in the van, and set off for a place far removed from people. Some places we have gone so far are Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley, Kern Canyon, and Hart Park. When we get to our location, I have a scavenger hunt list on my phone. A friend shared some on Facebook and the links we use are below. We either play as a whole family and hunt together or we choose teams and make the hunt a race. If we hunt together, it is very relaxed and much more exploring. But the kids love picking teams too. We have our oldest 2 do the picking with only 1 rule…my husband and I cannot be on the same team. After teams are chosen, we pick a meeting place (base) and a time limit then separate to hunt. The first team back to ‘base’ with the most things checked off in the time limit wins. “What do they win?” is always the question from our kids. At this time, they win the pleasure of winning, but we have toyed with the idea of a family trophy of some sort that the winners keep until the next Scavenger Hunt Saturday.
FYI – If you are not comfortable getting out in nature at this time, almost all, if not all, of these scavenger hunts can be done in your own neighborhood as well.
Check out these scavenger hunt ideas:
No Signal Sunday:
As we work remotely, do school remotely, and hang out with friends remotely, our screen time has gone through the roof. This day is one to unplug from everything (computer, TV, video games, cell phones, tablets) and enjoy some face to face time with your family. Though the kids were upset at first by this total shutdown of all technology, they really cherish this uninterrupted mommy and daddy time now. Our oldest daughter enjoys announcing “It’s No Signal Sunday! Give me your phones!” She then hides them from us for the remainder of the day. We spend the time reading together, doing yard work, playing board games, doing puzzles, running around the backyard. It is so relaxing and freeing to not be checking any messages, emails, or posts, not trying to capture each moment on video or in pictures. Just being present in that moment with those people is precious. This may be my favorite day!
So we start this day out with a video from this website, mysterydoug.com. Doug answers a new question each week that is sent in by kids. At the end of the video, you have the opportunity to vote on what question he will answer the next week. The videos are short and sweet and very engaging. After that, we keep this day very flexible. All you need is something to surprise your family with. You could bring out a new family board game such as Twister, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Simon, or a new puzzle for the family to do. You could hide something around the house and give clues to its location. You could have a riddle to solve or a mystery noise to figure out. No matter what the mystery, your family will look forward to Mondays!
I hope you and your family find these days as fun to look forward to as my family does as we all navigate this crazy new season of extreme family togetherness.
Blog written by WarmLine Sustainer Kea McGinty