Your everyday parenting skills are what your child needs most

As the Health and Wellness Educator, I’ve been part of many conversations about how to best support children’s mental health during this difficult time. Parents, caregivers, and even educators are desperate for tips to meet the social and emotional needs of their children, who are missing their friends, teachers, extended families, and everyday freedoms. I’d like to provide an objective view on some of the tips and resources so many organizations have been sharing to help support children’s well-being during the pandemic.

A Snapshot of Boston Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic

There’s no doubt that these are trying times. For many of us, including me, our patience and faith are being tested and our resilience is wearing thin. I’m fortunate to have a job and be able to work from home. As the Director of Community Engagement for Boston Children’s Museum, I’ve been trying to maintain contact with my community – the nonprofits that work with families daily, the school system, and the families who are also struggling during this time. Here is what I have learned from them about how they are coping during this crisis.

Working from Home with Kids: Anyone Else Freaking Out?

When you’re working from home with kids, it’s hard to separate work life and family life. I entered into this new social construct with all the optimism I could muster, for which I blame my midwestern roots. I give myself a gold star for having a mindful approach to this new unknown. My daughter and I made a schedule and brainstormed activity ideas, but unfortunately, the reality isn’t matching up to our initial sunny outlook. If you, too, are working remotely with your kids as your new coworkers, maybe you can relate.

Working from home…with kids

With all this sudden change heavy on my mind, this weekend I tried to figure out how I will actually work from home with the kids at home. This is unchartered territory, but I work at a children’s museum, I have expert resources a text/phone call/email away — it can’t be too hard, right? (Insert my new favorite emoji here.) There are tons of resources for activities to do with kids – Pinterest, Instagram, the Museum’s website (hint, hint!) and while all that is great, how do I get my work done while entertaining the kids and mining these resources for fresh activities? Here’s my plan so far:

100 Ways to Play At Home

Given the public health crisis we are facing as a country right now due to the spread of COVID-19, we understand that many families are choosing to stay in and play at home. We want to help make your experience fun and memorable, so we’re sharing 100 of our favorite ideas on fun play activities you can easily do from the comfort of home. See how many of our 100 Ways to Play you can try, and share your experience with us on Twitter using #BostonChildrensMuseum!

Can We Talk?

I was so pleased to sit down with Sherry Turkle’s thought-provoking new book, “Reclaiming Conversation.” Through her research, Turkle, an author, professor, and member of Boston Children’s Museum’s advisory board, explores in the book how quick “sips” of conversation— texts, emails, Tweets, posts, etc.—are replacing meaningful conversations, and the negative effects of this shift are becoming more and more evident. I was particularly struck by the consequences the decline in conversation is having on children.

The Power of Reading

To encourage a lifelong love of reading, books should be present in a child’s life from infancy. Reading should be considered a form of play and not simply an educational necessity. When reading becomes something one does for enjoyment, children are more likely to opt for a good book in favor of an hour on the iPad— at least every now and then.