And How To Boost It
By now, most of us have been in quarantine for somewhere around four weeks. 90% of the world’s children are out of school in what has become an unprecedented situation. Many countries have already decided not to reopen schools until the 2020-2021 academic year. And while the adults speculate, reconfigure and adjust their mindsets, hundreds of millions of children are banging on the front door to be let out! Honestly, though, don’t we all feel that way right now?
It’s been incredibly inspiring to watch orphanage caregivers and directors around the world creatively inventing new ways to keep their kids’ spirits high! That is no easy task. So before we dive into these fun methods and ideas, we’d like to honor these hardworking moms and dads. Thank you for leading by example!
Now, let’s talk about your kids’ quarantine morale…
We Fight Together!
Quarantine and social distancing does not have to be a boring, pointless prison. If that is your attitude, your kids will feel it, and register/react negatively to this season. Instead, rally around a common enemy (COVID-19) and set the stage for an adventure! A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and a little imagination energy can set kids’ morale in the right direction.
Although by now they are probably familiar with COVID-19 and the necessary health measures to stay safe, you can have a family meeting to reintroduce the topic.
Going into battle against the invisible enemy means being on guard, and washing your hands more often. Being ready for anything means you move like a stealthy ninja, and keep strangers 2 meters away. And winning the battle means the whole army works together, and siblings help one another, not fighting.
The truth is, it’s easy for any of us to feel exasperated with what’s being required of us right now, and that much more for our little ones. Keeping a united, purposeful mentality will have all your kids excited to follow their commander (you) into battle against the virus! Together, we will conquer!
Strategize A Plan
In every war there is a strategy. In the same way, kids need to know the battle plan. This means a couple different things. First, it means being upfront with our kids about the timeline of this quarantine. In many countries, we still do not know when restrictions will be lifted. Giving predictability is always the right place to start, affording our kids the opportunity to mentally prepare for whatever comes (or could come) next.
Secondly is our day-to-day. Our schedules have been completely disrupted, activities are cancelled and visitors/volunteers are temporarily keeping their distance. It can all feel incredibly chaotic and unknown. We know, though, that structure and planning give kids the security they need to be active in life confidently. It’s our job as the army commanders to give them that structure.
We highly recommend posting the temporary “battle plan” in written format somewhere the kids can see and interact with it. Daily routines, expectations, new rules and fun activities planned should be easily accessible.
When it comes to organized predictability, Annel Valdovinos and her team at Hope House in Ixtlahuacan, Mexico might just be the best. During this time, though, they’ve taken daily routine and expectation to a new level, in the spirit of building their kids into a united front against COVID-19.
In a recent letter, Annel describes the responsibilities her children have taken on to support one another during this time:
“…we talked to the children, that now everything they have learned they had to put into practice, that we are a family and that is what all families do.
Ulises, the oldest, is helping to wash clothes…for each child.
Josué is in charge of the greenhouse.
José de Jesús…disinfects all the vegetables and fruit, performs cleaning, and helps prepare food.
Gerardo is in charge of the deep cleaning of the house, keeping it in order.
The others help with the areas that impact them, their daily routines and chores, their schoolwork and activities.
But everything is not just cleaning, food, and chores, but also moments of fun and games where we spend quality time together.
This time has served as a reflection for everyone, for each child and each worker…”
Attack a Project
The more you do within that mindset of “we are a united family”, the more your kids will reflect that positive morale in the midst of a negative world. And with all the extra time on our hands, having your united army attack that long-standing project just might be the perfect time-killer! It’s quality time through group accomplishment.
When choosing a project for your family to work on, we recommend finding the ones that will take up quite a bit (if not days) of your time. Here are some ideas to get you going:
Plant a vegetable garden
Paint a mural on one of the walls
Practice for a play or talent show to use for your community when quarantine lifts
Pick up trash / Weed your property or street
Just kidding, don’t retreat in battle! But going on a camping retreat might be perfect for morale… (#DadJokes). Why go on a camping retreat? Two reasons. First, it’s just plain fun. Perhaps you know someone who has extensive property. Ask if they would let you use it for the two or three days. If not, even the backyard is a perfect option! Set up tents or shelters, build a bonfire (where applicable), plan group games, and SET A THEME.
That’s the second reason to consider this idea. A retreat is so impactful because the kids are removed from their ordinary lives, their senses are heightened for adventure/learning, and then a camping director can set a teaching theme. With COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing in place, kids are already removed for their ordinary; their senses are already heightened. A camping retreat is just one way to take positive advantage. Your theme can be anything you want to teach your kids, from science or survival, to spiritual lessons and time with God.
This is exactly what Love in Action from Chapala, Mexico employed last week. Their kids had a blast on a volunteer’s camping property for two nights and three days. Directors Anabel Frutos and her son Emmanuel Frutos led the retreat charge, and created an atmosphere of relationship and trust, despite the unrest and fear of our current world.
Anabel said, “We added a lot of (survival elements). We also had the spiritual side with devotionals in the morning and night. We did physical activities and team building exercises, and we mixed it all together into one camping experience.”
No matter what, we want to remind our kids that their “commanders” are going to lead them well, and that we are all in this together. It’s all too easy to start losing morale amongst our kids, and begin seeing flushed faces, grumpy attitudes and fighting siblings. But if we determine to stay united like an army against COVID-19, we just might come out on the other side better connected, more confident, and healthier than ever.