For those of you finishing up an inaugural week of working from home (yes, today is Friday), I salute you. You’ve tackled kids and caboodle, Zoom meetings and classroom chats, all while dealing with the COVID-19 crisis hanging over our heads like a big, black cloud. Congratulations. Now, what are your plans for the weekend?
Yes, the weekend. Saturday and Sunday, the cherished days during which families gather together and do fun things. Alaskans love their weekends; time for longer recreational pursuits, community events, and gatherings with friends. <Insert screeching brake sounds> NOPE. Not now.
Physical (i.e. social) distancing is putting most of these activities on hold, thanks to COVID-19, and putting many adults in the place of setting up home offices that mean we can work all.the.time. AmIRight?
As a freelancer who has worked from a home office for more than a decade, I can tell you that in most cases, the weekend can and should remain a sacred family opportunity. One reason is the structure a Monday through Friday, then Saturday and Sunday schedule affords to kids. They are used to it. They are not used to mom and dad shutting themselves behind closed doors, or waving hands like traffic cops to stop fighting in the background of a teleconference, and navigating school assignment packets from multiple kids of multiple ages and multiple moods.
The solution: Make the weekend the weekend, and here are some ideas:
- Pull the plug on work. Literally. Shut the office door, turn off the computer and message alerts from the work phone, and stop responding (if you are not in the health/safety profession). Tell your children that it’s Fri-yay and you’re here for them. They need to know you mean it.
- Cook together. Team up and assign different family members different aspects of a weeknight meal. Make it a competition if you like. We’ve come up with some interesting pasta and cheese dishes, and some strange combination of rice, hamburger, and frozen cauliflower, but it worked and everyone at least tried it. There are so many online options for recipes that even beginning readers can tackle a menu with help. Then…
- Camp out in the basement, family room, or wherever you find your movies. Have Disney+? Go in the vault and find a way-back show like ‘Spin and Marty’ from the Mickey Mouse Club, or ‘Escape to Witch Mountain.’ Sleep on the floor. Make pancakes the next morning. Treat this like the slumber party it is.
- Get outdoors. No, I’m not talking about a stroll around the block, I mean a longer adventure. Older kids can handle longer hikes in state parks or national forests. Tiny kids, a longer, break-heavy hike to a different place than usual. Plan together, make sure you have the 10 Essentials, and get away from crowds. Not sure where to go? Check out Alaska State Parks for some ideas.
- Have a family outdoor party. Yep, there’s still snow on the ground, but that didn’t stop us from having a fun Easter celebration at Eklutna Lake a few years ago. We hid eggs for kids, grilled all kinds of amazing food, and enjoyed the early-spring weather. It’s even more important this year, so don’t be afraid to dust off the camping gear and take it out for a day. Heck, let the kids practice setting up and taking down the tent.
- Take a scenic drive. Pack the kids into the family truckster and take to the highways near your community. In most places around Southcentral, snow is melting and the scenery, still fantastic. Plan, however, to take your own snacks, water, and other items you’ll need just in case you are hungry or thirsty so as not to upset the whole point of physical distancing. A few fun spots: Lake Hood and the western end of Northern Lights Boulevard; Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood and on to Portage Valley; Glenn Highway; Eklutna Lake Road. Please, do not get out of your car unless you are able to maintain the mandated 6-foot distance from other people not in your household.
Need other ideas? Check out my previous posts, below:
COVID-19 Activities for Littles
COVID-19 Activities for Big Kids