Living in Zones

Living in Zones

I created zones for my kids and myself in our home. I felt like there was zero order to my home. Do you ever feel like that? Like there are people and things all over your house all the time? This is so common, especially when you have kids. It is especially so when you are homeschooling, because you are using your house each and every day. Toys migrate from the play room to the living room to the bedroom to even the bath tub. By the end of summer, I’d had enough of this mess, literally and figuratively.

What Do I Mean?

What do I mean by zones? I forget where I first heard of turning your space into zones, but I was reminded of the idea by Erin from Cotton Stem. The idea of creating zones means using your space intentionally to provide a change of scenery, spark creativity, or just a place to go that has a purpose. For example, that random corner in your kitchen that’s kind of dead space – let’s turn it into something useful!

Book Nook Zone

made a little book corner in her kids’ bedroom. I thought, “Wow, I can do that!”. And I did. I went around my house and grabbed my son’s Anywhere Chair, a cozy blanket my kids love, an extra end table we randomly had, the basket of books which was not getting read in our playroom, and voila! We had our own reading corner in the upstairs loft. We named it the Book Nook, and it is now where my big kids do their independent reading each day. They LOVE it, and they are actually reading the forgotten books that were formerly in the playroom.

Bonus School Space Zone

With the success of the Book Nook, I looked for other ways to implement more zones. We have a large loft area upstairs, and it wasn’t being utilized well. The book nook was in one corner of the room, but I saw the opportunity to make the loft even more purposeful. I moved a desk that was in my daughter’s room (it was only storing doll clothes) to the loft. I added a lamp and a globe to the desk. BOOM! Now we have a zone for school work other than our homeschool room. We use this when someone needs to move to a quiet space. Because the kids take online piano lessons, I moved our keyboard to the same wall as the desk to be included in the school zone.

TV and Video Game Zone

I positioned the TV and Nugget couch to the next area in the loft to create a “lounging zone”. The TV cabinet also stores our LEGOs, so these are out of the kid’s bedrooms. This little TV zone get a lot of use on the weekends when my kids watch more shows and enjoy playing the Wii. It’s a small area. It’s literally just the Nugget and the TV, but the special thing about creating zones is you don’t have to have a lot of space to make something special.

Gross Motor Zone

Finally, the last zone I created in our loft is the “gross motor” zone. This is the biggest zone. I have a toddler trampoline in a corner and a sensory swing to hang from the ceiling. The Nugget Couch can easily be pulled over to make an obstacle course, slide, or whatever the kids want to create. Lastly, I added the little toddler slide from the backyard. I wanted an area where kids could play rough and get their wiggles out. We live in the Midwest, and it will soon be too cold to play outside. Having this play space is essential, and it’s already being used.

Now It’s Your Turn

I know not everyone has a large unused loft in their home. However, the idea behind creating zones is using the little corners and nooks you do have. Turn them into a special place for your kids to go. Maybe it’s setting aside the end of your kitchen table and leaving out crafting supplies, or trays and tubs of playdough that the kids can access on their own. Maybe it’s taking that kids table that isn’t really getting used anymore and turning it into a board game table. Maybe you need a “mom zone” to keep your calendar, file mail, and meal plan. I created my “mom zone” in our kitchen. It is so nice to have all my things in one place. Assess what’s not working or take a space that isn’t being used efficiently, then let your imagination flourish. Take a look around and share what you come up with!

Below are a few links to some things that we have in our zones, but don’t feel like you have to buy a bunch of stuff. Shop your house first, then see where you need to fill in the blanks.

Indoor Sensory Swing:

Toddler Trampoline:

Cozy chair for your own Book Nook:

Toddler Slide:

Is Survival Mode the New Normal?

Is Survival Mode the New Normal?

Will we be living in survival mode forever? I really hope not, but it sure does feel that way sometimes doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but just when we seem to get into some semblance of a routine that feels comfortable, a curve ball comes our way. Recovering from the virus has taken a lot longer than I wanted, which is SUPER annoying and frustrating. I have dreams of living my best quarantine life, but I’m not physically able to at this point. I was going to clean and declutter all the things. Additionally, I wanted to spend my afternoons getting lost in a great book, and I planned to cook new recipes, including perfecting French macarons. I was going to blog three times a week and post content to Instagram every day. I was going to tackle my kid’s picky eating, and we were going to be loving vegetables in no time. Oh, the plans I had!!

We are Going Through a Collective Trauma

But here’s the thing, friend. None of us have been through a pandemic before. None of us have been in a situation where we’ve had extensive shelter in place orders to follow. We are going through a collective traumatic experience. There is no play book for this. So, I think it’s vital we give ourselves grace for being in survival mode. It’s also vital that we extend that grace to others. It seems to be so common for people to experience good days and hard days. Happy days and sad days. Productive days and lazy days. And that’s okay!

What Can We Do about Survival Mode?

Living in “survival mode” mentality is, quite frankly, exhausting. So, what are we to do? I think the first thing we can do is actively acknowledge that this is hard. Take some deep breaths and just sit with that for a moment. The second thing I think we can do is establish some self care routines, not only for ourselves, but also our partners and children. For example, last week I decided Friday mornings would be my husband’s time for himself. He goes for a long drive, catches up with friends over the phone, or finishes up work from the week. The key is that he is off duty as husband and dad for those few hours, and it fills him up so well! He comes back refreshed and revived.

Self Care for Everyone

Self care for our kids has been interesting. They are young (7, 5, and 2). Basically, my entire life is caring for them, ha. But, I have bought them more of their favorite snacks since quarantine started. Who doesn’t love comfort food? I also check in with my older 2 kids and really ask them how they are feeling about having to stay home and not see their friends. We have been able to have some really good talks about our feelings, and they feel supported and heard when I tell them that sometimes I am sad too. Additionally, we make sure they spend time outside at every opportunity when the weather allows it.

For me, self care looks different depending on how I am feeling. because I am still healing from covid19. When I was spending a lot of time in bed, I shopped online for a few spring wardrobe additions. It helped me remember that brighter days will indeed come. Now that I am up and about more, I like to go for a quick 20 minute drives a few times a week and really blast the music (…in my minivan, haha!).

Whatever self care looks like for you, do it. Because you know what self care really is? It’s a way for us to take care of our mental health, and that is valid and important. You have permission to do what you need to do to recharge and take care of your mental health, mama. Commit to climbing out of survival mode. It’s true that you might have to get creative with self care, especially if you’re more extroverted. Maybe it’s a zoom coffee date or cocktail hour with your friends. Or, maybe it’s going on a walk or trying out a new exercise video. Maybe it’s crafting or reading or painting. Whatever it is, you do you mama, because you are worth it!

Homeschooling During Quarantine: It’s a New World

Homeschooling During Quarantine: It’s a New World

Can you believe we are homeschooling during quarantine? WOW! My intention was to write more often than I have, but it seems like the entire world has changed in just the last 10 days. Everything is canceled. All the things. We are having to adjust being at home at.all.times. This has been hard, even for me, a self identified introvert! Our best laid plans have been thrown out the window.

How are you handling homeschooling during quarantine? If you’re like me, you’re having good moments and hard moments. Good days and bad days. Days where you think, “I’ve got this!”. And other days where the enormity of the uncertainty feels so overwhelming. So, what are we to do?

Start with Small Routines

There is no shortage of advice on how to fill your time at home. Countless companies are offering free resources. You can easily pull up hundreds of options on Google. To me, it’s too much. I do not have the mental capacity to sort through everything. My advice is to start small. Start with implementing and STICKING WITH an attainable daily routine. Have different routines for your weekdays and weekends.

Furthermore, get dressed. I read a quote that said, “Flannel starts to feel like depression after about 3 days.” It’s so true. I am used to wearing make up every day. When I don’t, I feel lazy and unmotivated. So, I’ve been wearing my typical make up almost every day. It has really helped my mentality in approaching the day. Below is the weekday we are using in our family (2 parents at home barely working with 3 kids):

*8:30-9:15 (this is the only time we go by the clock): Every one gets dressed

*Homeschool my two older girls, while hubby take the toddler upstairs for some gross motor play

*Morning snack/break from school

*Finish school while toddler does a puzzle (or some other simple activity)

*Lunch

*Nap/Quiet time

*Afternoon snack while watching TV

*Get out of the house in some way (play outside, go for a walk, take a drive)

*Follow typical night time routine of dinner, baths, after dinner snack, and bed

I hope this helps bring a little intentionality to your day. We’ve been following this routine for about 4 days now, and every day it feels a little more normal. We can do this. We ARE doing it! If you’re needing encouragement for how to manage self care during quarantine, check out this post.