by Katie Julius

In most everything we do regularly, we run the risk of developing feelings of drudgery as we start feeling the itch for something new; a break from what has become monotonous. It’s probably even more true now than ever in this season of sheltering at home. It can be easy to fall into a cycle of discouragement and apathy, even in things you may enjoy.

One of the easiest ways to prevent these feelings from manifesting and ruining your attitude is to add variety into your routine. For those of you who are Type A like me and love your routines and schedules, you can still incorporate some new or different ways of doing things that already fill your day.

Now that our weather is improving, getting outside can boost your mood, that of your family, and give some space for the kids to burn off some energy. Have a picnic lunch in your yard. Take your school work out under a tree in the backyard today. Go on a shape, color, letter, or number scavenger hunt walk around your neighborhood (most big kids will get into it if you make it a competition!). 

I know you may be thinking…but I need some time away from these people I’ve been cooped up with for more than six weeks now. However, if you plan special activities to do as a family each evening or once a week, this can give you something to look forward to at the end of a week where each day is looking the same. If you have a tent, go camping in your backyard. If you don’t, set up sleeping bags in your living room and “camp in” together. Have a movie night with popcorn and snacks. Plan a family talent show or create a skit to perform (bonus points if you share it virtually with friends or family). Plan a theme dinner and have some family members cook the meal, some do the decorations, some plan entertainment, etc.

Sure, your kids may not be learning one of their core academic subjects, but they’re developing their relationship with you and working on character and life skills. These are the important things! Most general knowledge facts are available, literally, at our fingertips these days. If they forget the three states of matter or who the 14th President was, it’s easy to find that information through our technology today.

Is there something that really interests you and your kids? Is everyone really into fishing or fashion or learning French? Spend some time researching and creating a family project on the subject. Learn about the different types of fish, where they live, the best ways to catch each, make your own fishing hole with some construction paper, paper fish with paper clips and a pole with a magnet; look up fashion throughout the history of the United States and create paper dolls to model them–or create a fashion show using yourselves as models; begin practicing some words and phrases in French while you explore French culture, geography, and history.

While this one is a bit more difficult to accomplish right now, you can still do some projects as a family that will be a blessing to others. With spring upon us, neighbors may enjoy a small flower arrangement from your garden. You can also make flowers from coffee filters and pipe cleaners to deliver and brighten someone’s day. Make “thank you” cards for essential workers (delivery workers, law enforcement, medical personnel, fire departments, grocery store workers, etc.) and “thinking of you” cards to send to family and friends who are far away. Many kids are great at coming up with ways they can help others, so have them brainstorm some ideas together.

These are just a few examples of things you can incorporate into your day or week where it has become painfully obvious that you need to try something new or different. We’ve all been there! What are some of your favorite things to do to add variety into your family’s schedule?