It seems like the entire world is coming to a grinding halt. Social distancing is becoming the norm. Many of us are quarantined with our teenagers and wondering how we will mentally survive.
Don’t get me wrong, I know you love your teenagers, but they are a special breed. And spending weeks at a time in a small area with them presents a unique set of challenges.
Full disclosure; you won’t find any color-coded schedules in this article. It’s more like a list of do’s and don’ts to help you lessen the stress, be somewhat productive and come out the other side of this quarantine with your sanity intact.
The downside of being quarantined with teenagers
Ok, let’s lay it all out and get the downside out of the way first. School is canceled so they have nothing to focus on and no real reason to get up at a decent time each day.
Sports are canceled, which means that teens who normally run off their energy are jittery and upset about missing games and practices. School plays, musicals, and concerts are canceled and your teen is probably devastated that they won’t be able to showcase their talent after working hard on it all year.
All of the junk food in the house will be wiped out in a matter of days. You will be forced to listen to whiny cries of “I’m bored!” over and over. Your teens can’t hang out with their friends, which could lead to feelings of isolation and sadness.
For parents who are working from home, it’s like Take Your Child To Work Day every day, which makes it difficult for you to focus and be productive. For parents who still have to go into work, you are worried about the kids being home alone all day and getting into trouble.
Feeling scared yet? Let’s move on to the positive because I assure you that there is a bright side to this.
The upside to being quarantined with teenagers
Snarky humor aside, obviously the biggest upside is that we can help contain the Coronavirus. Social distancing works if everyone follows it.
Here are some other positive aspects of this situation. Most importantly, the wifi still works. As long as we have wifi, we have hope.
Now, let’s switch our thinking from “This is horrible” to “This is a gift of precious time.” Our teenagers are only at home with us for a few more years and we are being given a golden opportunity to savor the time we have left with them.
This is your chance to really get to know your teen and make solid connections with them. On a normal day, most of us just want them to come out of their rooms and talk to us once in a while. So when we are quarantined with our teenagers, we need to capitalize on it.
What you should do when quarantined with teenagers
I know you are probably wondering, “How am I going to entertain my teen for the next few weeks?” First of all, it’s not your job to entertain them. Your job is to keep them safe.
I promise, if left to their own devices, they will find things to do. But if you are looking for ways to connect with them, here are some things you can enjoy doing together.
Play a game or do a puzzle
If you have a classic board game at home, dust it off and introduce it to your teen. Or you could spend a little time after lunch or dinner each day to work on a puzzle.
My family has a rule that we only play Monopoly during hurricanes and blizzards, mainly because it takes so long to finish a game. Yes, lucky me lives in an area that gets both hurricanes and blizzards. We even had an earthquake once, but I digress.
When my kids found out that we were going to stay at home for a couple of weeks, one of the first questions they asked was, “Does this mean we can play Monopoly?” So it looks like I will be breaking it out to keep us busy for a few hours.
Get a streaming service when you are quarantined with teenagers
If you don’t already have a streaming service and you can afford it, I highly suggest you consider investing in one for the next month or two. Check out Netflix, Hulu or Disney+, which all have very reasonable monthly rates.
Then, find a series and binge watch it with your teen. Disney+ has all the Marvel movies and the Mandalorian, which was a big hit with my oldest. On Netflix, check out The Umbrella Academy or Locke and Key.
You could also watch a comedy or two. Laughter has been proven to forge connections and boost your immune system.
Since you won’t be going out to restaurants, now is the perfect time to teach your teen to cook. They need to know the basics before they move out anyway so take advantage of the situation and use it as a learning experience.
Invite your teenager to help you make dinner each night and remember, they probably don’t know the first thing about cooking. You may have to literally show them how to boil water, but this is really a win-win situation. You get a kitchen helper and company while you cook and they gain useful skills.
Keep a journal while you are quarantined with teenagers
This is going to be a historic event and years from now it will be interesting to look back at it. You should consider keeping a personal journal and encourage your teenager to do the same.
You could record what you do each day, how you are feeling about the situation and what is happening in your town. Plus, if your teen is feeling blue about being stuck in the house, this will give them an outlet to express their feelings.
Exercise will help alleviate stress and keep you healthy while you are quarantined with your teenagers. Yes, you will have to avoid the gym for a little while, but you can still move your body every day.
Can you and your teen safely walk or run around the neighborhood? Is your backyard big enough to throw a football or kick a soccer ball around? If so, do it because the fresh air will be good for both of you.
If you are completely unable to venture outside, look up exercise videos on Youtube. You and your teen can find a form of exercise that you both enjoy and do it together. This might be the perfect opportunity to explore yoga, which will keep you relaxed and centered.
Talk to them about it
Every night at dinner, we talk about the latest news regarding the Coronavirus. We ask the kids how they are feeling and what their friends are saying.
Our family believes in open communication and while I don’t want to scare them, I think they need to know what is happening. Most teenagers are mature enough to handle the truth and have a discussion about it.
This also helps you know what is going on in your teen’s head. My youngest expressed that his friends are saying this is the apocalypse and it gave us a chance to assure him. If we had not asked, he would not have volunteered that information.
When quarantined with teenagers, step into their world
Is your teen crazy about TikTok? If so, check it out with them. Learn a TikTok dance and record a video together. It might not be something you would normally do, but these are not normal times.
Got a gamer in the house? Find out what they are playing and ask if you can join in. Your teens will be pleasantly surprised when you show interest in their hobbies and want to learn more about them.
If all else fails, start spring cleaning
Being quarantined with your teenagers is the perfect setting for spring cleaning. They can’t escape, there is nothing else to do and you need to clean anyway to keep the germs away.
If you want to be a super evil mommy, you could make them deep clean for one hour a day. Or tackle one room of the house each day and clean it from top to bottom.
This is your opportunity to clean out closets, wash windows and get your house in tip-top shape.
What you should NOT do when you are quarantined with teenagers
Don’t feel like you need to be together all the time. Spend a few hours together and then give them some space. They will find something to occupy themselves. Plus it will make them appreciate the time spent with you instead of looking at it as a chore.
Don’t forget, you need a break too. This is a stressful situation so find ways to be alone for a little bit each day. A long bath or fifteen minutes of meditating will do wonders for your mental clarity.
Don’t stress so much about school and keeping up with the work. Many schools are moving spring break to cover some of the time off so the kids are not missing that much.
If you really want to keep their minds sharp, make them read or watch science or history shows on television. One of my favorite tricks is to make my kids read a book that is also a movie. Once they have finished the book, we will watch the movie together. Then, we can talk about the differences and which one they liked better.
Just remember, being quarantined with teenagers doesn’t have to be a burden and you don’t have to drive each other insane. Focus on finding the bright side of a stressful situation, keeping your family safe and building bonds that will last well beyond the pandemic.
If you have other ideas, please share them with us by commenting below!
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