The Canadian federal government sent out this incredible memo to all employees. When I read it I thought it had a lot of compassion, empathy and common sense. It has suggestions that all of us can use as our shelter in place principles.

Jennifer Senior, an op-ed columnist for the NY Times also wrote about this Tweet saying it is a difficult time for parents, but especially mothers, because we are not only trying to work, but trying to manage kids at the same time. It’s impossible to find flow in the midst of this chaos. We have no time for ourselves.

The reason uninterrupted time is hard to come by is most our kids are not independent at a young age. There is a general lack of trust we have for kids, especially those under the age of 13. Parents remain dominant forces in their child's lives for longer than needed. To make things worse, there is also a lack of independent activities that kids can do on their own that are not video games or movies.  In today’s world, parenting would be so much easier if we could trust our kids and find activities that don’t require parental oversight.

Constantly preparing activities, checking progress, and reviewing work is time consuming. Then add in not trusting our kids on the internet and checking their every movement, and you’ve got a full time job!

Every child has different needs, but it’s important to start creating room for them to be independent by showing your confidence in their ability to take care of themselves.

This reframing from a controlled to a collaborative relationship with your children, is the gift that will give you back your personal time. Don’t solely carry the stress of filling your children’s schedules this summer. Solicit their feedback, and give them control to start planning parts of their week.

Here are some suggestions that are fun for kids and also promote collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and independent thought. These suggestions come from the Institute for Child Success.  While they may require some parental oversight, once you get your child started, then they can continue independently. A couple of my favorites below:

  • Obstacle Course: set up an obstacle course indoors or outdoors and again let the children do this using whatever you have to hand and perhaps adding old boxes, ropes or scarves, blocks, etc.
  • Play-doh: most children love this. It is very easy to make. Ingredients: 250g/10 oz. plain flour, 50g/2 oz. salt, 140ml/just over half a cup water, 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, a few drops of food coloring.

If you are struggling to find independent activities to keep your kids engaged and learning this summer, try my student-directed Learning Paths. Members receive access to our learning path library for two students, who can pursue the paths which interest them most together. Students are provided essential directions, but given the freedom to explore and create on their own. When they get stuck, we provide real-time support. You can feel like you’re dropping your kid off at our “virtual summer camp”.