Once the stay-at-home order went into effect, I knew that things were going to be difficult. Forget working from home, I was worried about how my kids would take it. I wasn't sure how I was going to keep them on top of their school work, let alone how I was going to keep them entertained in their free time.
What followed was a cacophony of bad habits. While I tried desperately to keep them in a stable routine, my kids eventually began to realize that things were different and I wasn't as focused as I usually was.
Bedtimes were getting later, diets were becoming more unhealthy, and don't even get me started on screen time. About halfway through the Summer (if you could even call it that) I realized that things weren't going to change themselves. I needed to do something about my children's poor routine to kick the bad habits they'd adopted.
Bad Habit #1: Too many unhealthy snacks
It's no secret that my kids are picky eaters, but this is just getting ridiculous. When quarantine started, I definitely gave them some leeway given the turbulent circumstances. I felt so bad that for the first month of quarantine, I basically let them eat almost whatever they wanted.
Yes, I know how irresponsible this was of me, but if you have had to deal with a kid in the last few months, then you know exactly why I gave in. It wasn't until my best friend Kayla told me her solution--the meal kit. It was an easy way to prepare delicious meals with the added bonus of keeping my kids busy (and teaching them how to cook).
Bad Habit #2: They're going to bed way too late
To be honest, I can't be too mad at my kids for this one. I'm pretty sure every single person is going to bed later than usual. My biggest issue was that because I had to keep my kids busy and entertained during the day, I had to finish the rest of my work before bed. This meant that I'd be up for 3-4 hours later than usual.
My kids definitely picked up on this and adjusted their bed times accordingly. Even if I told them to go to bed, around 9pm I would go to the bathroom and hear them giggling or playing video games at a low volume. Despite my numerous efforts to curtail this poor habit, my kids continued to stay up. It wasn't until I got them on some child-friendly melatonin gummies and a state-of-the-art sound machine that they finally went to bed at a normal hour.
Bad Habit #3: Too much useless screen time
While these first two habits weren't ideal, they were definitely better than the horrendous amount of screen time my children were indulging in. Between playing video games, using my smartphone, and watching countless hours of cartoons, I could just feel my children's brains rotting away. Still, screen time was the easiest way to keep my children occupied when they weren't in (Zoom) school so I could get my work or stuff around the house done. I felt like a bad parent giving into the "easy solution," but then a few of the moms at school told me about Muzzy, a cartoon based online learning program for kids created by the BBC.
Muzzy is an award-winning language learning program that uses cartoons to help teach kids new languages via the natural immersion method. While I figured that my kids were too young to learn a new language (4 and 6 years old), it turns out that having them start at a young age not only makes it easier for them to pick up another language, it also helps foster their creative and critical thinking skills!
Each story builds on the previous one and you can access them as a DVD set or through an online subscription that includes bonus worksheets and games. We paid $59 (less than $5 a month) for a yearly online subscription and were not disappointed in the slightest. In a matter of days, my children were singing their favorite songs and talking about their favorite characters. More importantly, after just two months, they knew an impressive amount of Spanish words!
Now when I need to get work done, I don't feel bad about placing my children in front of a screen. They're still playing games and watching cartoons, but at least they're learning something in the process. If you're a busy parent like myself, I highly recommend checking out Muzzy and all of its amazing cognitive benefits. It helped us make a huge change in our routines, and trust us, you will feel the same way.