Welcome to our nest!
How is everyone doing in this new crazy world we’re living in? Have you run out of things to do with the kids yet?
Since the ordered closure of all schools as well as non-essential businesses (which has been heartbreaking for myself and my clients), life has certainly changed in our home! Right now, my photography doors are closed until the order is lifted, my husband is working from home, and my (bonus) daughter has joined my son in homeschooling.
*side bar, I cannot wait to see and photograph all my clients and their new babies as soon as this order is lifted!*
While we’ve come up with a pretty good daily routine that balances play / academics, I’ve seen a lot of posts in facebook groups of parents looking for ideas things to do with their kids now that they’re home all day. I had the benefit of already being a homeschooling parent so for myself and son, academically, it’s been business as usual – but I recognize that’s not the norm for most families.
I wanted to help by starting a weekly blog where I could share a look inside our week and share links to recipes, crafts, academics, and the things to do with the kids. Obviously, I’ll also be sharing a bunch of photos of these activities! I’m even going to do my absolute best to jump in front of the camera too.
So here it is – some things we did with the kids during week one!
March 22 – 28, 2020
This week was our adjustment week where we gently eased into our new groove. It was the first week of my husband working from home and me officially homeschooling two kiddos who are on the autism spectrum.
It was a week filled with some uncertainty as I touched base with my mama clients who had just had their babies, had video calls with friends answering their questions about homeschooling, met with my girl, Sandy, to brainstorm an action plan for our 2020 weddings (click here to check us out!), double checked my academic materials for the kids, and dove with the kids into a bunch of fun activities.
We were blessed with some amazing weather this week. My husband, Brandon, jumped at the chance to start some seeds with my son, Mr. D. We were also missing some of our favourite faces so we jumped on FaceTime to catch up with one of our favourite people (side bar, she’s an incredible musician out of Chicago – be sure check her out on Facebook by clicking here or on band camp here – you won’t regret it!)
Academics and homeschooling were something we eased into this week as well. It was a bit tricky to sort out what activities and subjects we could do together and which ones needed to be done individually with each kiddo, but we quickly found what worked (and what didn’t lol). This week we did a science lesson on gems and crystals. We watched a video on brainpop about crystals. We learned how crystals are formed, how they get their color, and about liquid crystals.
Parents – definitely check out brainpop. They have a TON of different (short and engaging) lessons on all subjects. It is very child friendly and designed specifically for kid navigation. It also includes games, additional reading, and quizzes for each topic.
We decided to try to make our own crystals using this experiment. It was something the kids could do on their own (with close supervision) and it worked great! My (bonus) daughter, Miss. A, checked on their progress almost every 20 minutes (lol) and they were finally finished after about 4 hours in the fridge!
We had one day where the temperature hit almost 18 degrees Celsius. It was absolutely GLORIOUS! We made sure to take FULL advantage and stock up on fresh air and vitamin D. The kids and I spent the morning cleaning out the sheds and decided that they could take the smaller shed for their own bikes, scooters, and outside toys. They LOVED this….I mean it even has it’s own lock (I think this might be the coolest thing in their eyes lol).
After we were done the cleanup, we took the scooters out front and burned whatever extra energy they had.
I think one of the most important parts of our day is what Brandon and I call the “bucket filling” time with each kiddo. For our kids this is usually in the form of us each having designated one on one time with them each day. While the kids get me pretty much all day, the real bonus is when Brandon is done work and can hunker down with the kids. Miss. A was adjusting to some earlier mornings and a new routine so for her, she was in her happy place when she could snuggle up with Brandon in front of Netflix.
Mr. D and Brandon have designated game time before bed (hello Minecraft). Outside of that though, a real bucket filling thing for Mr. D is family game time. This week we introduced the kids to wii sports. We had a blast playing baseball, golf, boxing, and bowling after dinner most nights this week.
Something else we did this week was craft time. We decided this week to make some pictures to mail to some family members who are under the weather. The kids did a great job creating some bright, colourful, and cheerful cards. We used things we already had in the house (hoarding craft supplies has come in handy!). We used crayons, construction paper, and stick on foam letters. Mr. D did an incredible job with writing his letter out all on his own.
Parents: Writing letters is a great way for kids to practice printing, spelling, sentence structure, and paragraph building! It’s also a pretty great life skill to have.
Nutrition: Any parent with a kiddo on the spectrum knows this struggle. Nana O. babysat the kids a little over a month ago and taught Miss. A how to make “the perfect scrambled eggs”. This since become Miss. A’s favourite thing to cook. Brandon and I are thrilled we’ve been able to add another protein item to her diet to replace the usual carbs. I think she made herself eggs (with adult help of course) almost everyday at our house!
I’m still not able to win Mr. D over to scrambled eggs yet, but I like to think the day is coming? That being said, he’s mastered how to make pancakes and he loves to cook!
Name that plant! Any guesses what the plant below is? My husband has an incredible green thumb and is doing an incredible job teaching the kids all about seeds, plants, and how to regrow vegetables (we have green onions, lettuce, and celery all regrowing on our kitchen counter. We also have an avocado pit that’s sprouted!). This is a super fun thing to do with the kids. Next time you finish a vegetable, instead of tossing or composing the root, stick it in a glass of water!
The kids call this “the pickle plant”….hint hint!
One thing that I forgot to snap a proper photo of, but deserves a HUGE mention, is all the ways our kiddos were able to connect with some of their teachers, group leaders, and friends so far.
Guys. This social distancing thing is so hard.
For us AND for the kids. It’s hard not being able to hang out with friends or go to recreational activities. Our kids typically do Y kids, swimming lessons, kids club / youth group, gymnastics, church, and karate during the week. They love being with other kids so not being able to go to their activities has been a big adjustment.
Miss. A had a great surprise when her kids club leader called her to check in and connect with her. She also got a chance to talk to her school teacher. Getting a chance to talk to these adults and them telling her that they miss her and are thinking about her was such a bright surprise and completely appreciated!
Mr. D has had the chance to to do video calls with his nana and papa, FaceTime with his buddy from homeschooling gymnastics, and learn all about zoom meetings with his youth group.
I want to just highlight this youth group piece. Each Wednesday night Mr. D goes down to a church a few cities over for youth group. We’ve been a part of this church off and on since Mr. D was 2 years old. They run an incredible youth and kids program. Mr. D had really been missing that social connection due to the social distancing.
Enter his phenomenal youth director, Miss K.
*and there was much rejoicing*
She set up zoom meetings / hangouts so that the leaders could create a virtual youth group. They all check in and are part of a big lesson and then break out into their smaller groups to do their small group study.
I was worried they would be missing out on games, but that worry was quickly squashed as I watched Mr. D run around the house furiously while they did a virtual scavenger hunt. It was quite a sight to see. HUGE shout out to Miss K. and all the incredible stuff she’s doing to stay in touch with these kids! I promise I’ll make sure to get a proper photo for the next blog post!
Following that, Brandon and I checked in with our favourite youth posse from our last church and setup a zoom call with 3/5 youth. It was extra special as one of the youth had just returned from a 6 month change in Taiwan. We shared in his disappointment as it was supposed to be a full year program and it was cut short due to the cover-19 virus, but we were happy he was back home safe with his family. It was great to catch up with them!
That’s it! Week one in a nutshell!
I have no doubt that some weeks will be trickier than others. Some weeks will be filled with activities and photos while other weeks will be quieter. One thing I’ve learned this week is that even with the most perfect routines and schedules, success comes from going with the flow and staying flexible.
Next week I’ll share more about what we’re using for our academic studies – what the kids are loving and things we tried that just didn’t work for us. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay home!
Jennifer is a lifestyle family photographer located in Southern Ontario. Jennifer is a newborn, baby, maternity, family, and creative branding photographer. She serves Ancaster, Brantford, Burlington, Cambridge, Hamilton, Kitchener, Oakville, Niagara, Woodstock, and the GTA.
To book your own session with Jennifer Blaak Photography after the social bans are lifted, please use the contact tab at the top of the page. You can also contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org