My best homeschooling tip? Teach your kids valuable life skills

We can strive to optimize joy, togetherness and potentially an expanded view of what learning and education mean for our families. Here are a few ideas we are experimenting with.

boy playing during homeschool

We are living through hard times right now. Period. My own struggles around juggling work, homeschooling, self-isolation (once I developed a fever) and taking care of the house is hard, but the pain of the world around me is harder in so many ways. I miss my old life and I miss the peace and stability that my fellow humans had. (Or felt like we had.)

With all that's going on, including the newfound pressure of teaching my children at home amid school closures, I've decided to expand my definition of homeschooling in an effort to make it easier, more enjoyable and definitely useful for all. So, our school now includes a life skills course.

Yes, children need to learn and continue to hit their academic milestones—but there is also a lot more room to involve children in the everyday runnings of a household that will lighten the load on ourselves as parents and will also give our children more to learn beyond their worksheets and Zoom calls. Getting a kindergartner and preschooler to chop vegetables isn't the most efficient way to get dinner ready, sure, but many of us are in a collective season of life where efficiency doesn't necessarily need to be our number one priority of every minute right now.

We can strive to optimize joy, togetherness and potentially an expanded view of what learning and education mean for our families.

Here are a few ideas we are experimenting with:

1. Conflict resolution

I'd be lying if I told you things have been exactly the same between my husband and myself since the outbreak. While we are finding our rhythm, there was definitely a period of adjustment where we were arguing more than usual.

At first, I had a bit of shame around what I was modeling for my kids. But the other day, right before I had to jump on a call, I could sense my kids were on the verge of an argument. And instead of giving them their devices, I said, "Kiddos, remember yesterday when Mom and Dad had an argument, what we did? We didn't hit or call each other names but we took a deep breath, we spoke about our feelings and our needs. Can you both try practicing talking through things if there is a problem?"

Now, I can't tell you that everything worked out perfectly, but it was a great teaching moment to model healthy conflict resolution.

2. Cooking

Children can learn to try out new foods, hone their fine motor skills, learn math and patience, understand new cultures and build memories for a lifetime. My kids love olive bread and since we can't get it from our local farmers market right now, we are hoping to bake it next (once I am out of my self-isolation!) where we can discuss all things yeast, including why and how fermentation occurs.

3. Chores

I will be the first to admit that my kids don't like to do chores (and frankly neither do I). But, this season has been a great opportunity to practice "working together" on cleaning up. The other day, they had to do 45 minutes of chores before they could watch their favorite show and voila!—the kids' laundry was all put away.

Give children a chance to pick their chores, freedom in when they get to do it and then try your best to bring humor and fun into the mix hoping that it'll work, and knowing it might not.

4. Car cleaning

I am still fascinated by how much the kids like to clean our cars and the sense of agency and ownership they have over this activity. Maybe your kids would like this one, too! And if not cars, I bet your kids have some other activity that could be a win-win for everyone to practice more of.

5. DIY products

We just ordered bath bomb molds to make bath bombs in our kitchen. In the past, we have made our own body butter and lip balm, too. The kids love the mixing, the pouring and of course—the final products at the end.

6. Giving back

The other day we sat down and made thank you cards and wrote small checks for our cleaning lady and our mother's helper. Next on our list is showing support to our local community by buying gift cards to our favorite local restaurants.

Most importantly, the fact that our kids are around us almost 24/7 right now means that "how" we are living our lives is the most impactful teacher at this time. The way we manage our anxiety and fears will have a bigger impact on what we tell them. Our food and entertainment choices and how we talk about them while we're around them will be teaching our children a lot about living a meaningful life.

I've explained to my kids before that when I take time out of my day to write I often write stories about our lives. Sometimes, I even read my words out loud and explain to them what I have written thus creating a meaningful moment of connection and teaching with them.

So, this weekend, try to sit down for a few minutes and make a list of what truly matters to you as a family. Ask yourself—What are your core values? When your kids are on their first date in college and are talking about their family and childhood, how do you want them to describe it? Then think of actions and activities you can plan that coincide with those values.

We are in a very overwhelming moment in time and most of this likely feels very foreign. We are simply trying to survive. I too, sometimes just want the kids to sleep so I can escape my reality. But then, there are other moments and days, where a little bit of intention and a little bit of planning brings much-needed purpose in an otherwise unpredictable and uncertain world.

Most importantly, remember to model compassion and kindness for yourself. We, and our children, need it more than anything else in the world right now.

In This Article

    These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

    It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

    When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

    But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

    I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

    So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

    It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

    But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

    Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

    Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

    Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

    Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

    Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

    This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    Rae Wellness: Essential daily supplements to help you shine from the inside out

    Rae Wellness is a women-led company with the belief that nurturing your mind and body isn't just essential—it's your power. Their collection of daily supplements leverage vegan, non-gmo, high quality ingredients to help you "shine from the inside out." With formulas to designed to fuel your calm, sleep, energy and more, consider them your daily dose of self care, mama. Even better, 5% of every purchase goes directly to Girls. Inc., the non-profit organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold through direct service and advocacy.

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    As any mama who has wrestled herself into a less than sexy, over-the-top utilitarian nursing bra knows, it can be quite the demoralizing experience. Add to that the annoyance of having to switch out to a completely different contraption in order to pump hands-free, and it's even more of a let down (pun not necessarily intended.) Frustrated by this all-to-universal dance, founder Emily Ironi made it her mission to create an all-in-one bra that not only works for moms, but celebrates them. Her line of pretty, feminine intimates for nursing and pumping combine function with aesthetics to keep you looking and feeling your best as you rock new motherhood.

    Milkful: The Dairy Fairy's size inclusive sister company

    Part of the Dairy Fairy's mission was to create a line of nursing and pumping bras that would make women feel comfortable and confident. Since launching in 2012, Emily heard from many women of different shapes and sizes, asking, "why doesn't this come in my size?" Adding sizes to the line didn't quite feel like enough. Instead, she set out to create an entirely new way to support their specific needs during such an important time in their lives. Thus, Milkful's line of size inclusive nursing and pumping intimates was born.

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    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

    "A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."

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