A couple months ago, I reached out to one my inspirations, Chavie Bruk of Montana to do a feature for us.
G-d definitely had some interesting plans in place, because right after I interviewed, a few unexpected things came up, and the interview got pushed to the side. However, I couldn't think of a better time for publishing this feature than now, as the feature was all about something that she has been doing way before it suddenly became so common around the world; entertaining her kids at home.
Chavie and her husband live in Boseman, Montana, where they run Chabad of Montana. While Montana is a picturesque town to live in, it can be very isolated (hot word now-a-days) and makes it very challenging to keep her kids entertained. Another factor that makes it even more challenging is that it snows for 7-8 months a year there, so sending them outdoors to run around isn't that easy either, so while weekday's tend to be fine since they are in school, weekends were something that had to be tackled smartly in order to be something to look forward to, not dreaded.
Here are some tips and tricks that she shared way before this virus broke out, that are probably more helpful now that ever. DISCLAIMER: These are tips that were shared in context of preparing for weekends only, however the principles can definitely help even with having to create your own schedule day in and day out.
Her and her husband make an active effort to create a plan for each weekend. While many of us feel that it's hard to plan anything in this day and age, there is something to having a plan to guide you when you wake up in the morning, more for structure than for security.
Empower Your Kids
She often works on making a schedule together with her kids. This helps ensure that the schedule is one that they agreed to and that you are okay with so that both sides are happy to follow it. It makes them feel more empowered and more likely to keep it.
Teach Them Accountability
Her kids happen to not do well with screentime, however like all kids they still want it. She will often allow them to have screentime if they can show her a plan for how it will lead to positive behaviors afterwards. The same applies to activities that can end up leading to stressful aftermaths (baking, art, etc…) Instead of just giving it to them, she teaches them that they can only have it if it will serve a positive purpose.
Utilize What You Have as An Asset.
While snow is her biggest challenge as it keeps the kids from going outside easily, she's learnt to use it to her advantage. She signs her kids up to ski camp during the winter. This keeps them busy for the full Sunday while it's in session and also gives them a great way to spend time outdoors doing exercise. Her sister in the Cayman Islands has learnt to use the beach as a great tool to keep her kids entertained. Especially now, when we find that we are stuck in place, it's important to find those things around us that can be helpful and use them to our advantage (whether it’s a porch that borders with a neighbor and we can talk to them from, a big backyard, or even a home improvement project that we've been pushing off and can now turn into a family project).
Be Ready to Fail and Try Again
She shared with me how very often, the best planned Sunday's yield mediocre results and some Sunday's when there was very minimum planning things went fine. It's trial and error and it's important to be ready to things not to go perfect. I think what's most important for us to realize now is more than ever our kids will notice not how perfect we our plans worked out but what our attitude was during this time. In a time of letting go, showing our kids that it's okay to make mistakes and learn from them will probably be the biggest gift we can give them of all.
I touched base with Chavie once she was safely quarantined in her home in Montana, they had had to cut short a family vacation in order to just get home and be safe. She said that now that it was full weeks to be planned rather than just Sundays, it's definitely way harder, and she finds herself struggling, like most of us. However, she is still trying to use these principals to create some form of structure and balance in her house.
With love from Quarantine in CH