I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

What To Do Now?

Early in our marriage, my husband and I found we either had money or time. If we had time, we didn’t have the money to do anything.
Perhaps these things will help you do something while you wait to return to your jobs.
Or maybe you may find, that your job wasn’t that important as what you find at home.
Anyway, this article should help you do something.

It would be easy to allow your children to watch movies or play video games so that you can do what you want.
It would be easy for you to get absorbed in your own movie or project and miss this opportunity to spend time with your children.
Turn off the tv even for the children.
Don’t watch the news.
What do you and the children do instead?

Maintain some kind of schedule
If you normally get up at 6 AM, then get up at 6 AM.
Studies have shown that working in your pj's are not as productive as getting dressed as a "normal" day. So make an effort to get dressed.
Put the children to bed at their normal time.
A schedule, even if you are not working outside the home, helps maintain a sense of normalcy.
Schedules also help give children structure. If they have school work to do, they will be fresher in the morning to do it, not in the afternoon.
If they require help, you will also be better able to help them before you get tired.
Assign regular chores that should be done at certain times. This helps them know what you expect and helps you not have to repeat so many assignments. (Eliminates fights.)

Resist the temptation to stay up late watching movies. Your body needs rest to help with stress.
These times have added stress. 
Stretching it with little sleep escalates problems. When you are tired, you do not respond well to difficulties.
Act as if your children must go to school the next day. Even if they don't go somewhere to school, give them assignments to stay in the habit of studying, even if it is just reading a book. The practice will help them. 
Find a certain spot where they can study. Some children must sit by themselves at a desk or table so they will not be distracted by what others do.
Others can sit comfortably on a sofa. Know what your child needs.
When they don't get enough sleep, the next day is already hard for everyone.
For more details on why sleep is important see Sleep: It's for Your Brain.

Help your children with their school
Many of you may be surprised what they are teaching your children.
Here are a few examples of common core with math:

Maybe that is why your child can’t “get” math. Nor are you “too dumb” to understand. 
They’ve made it hard to understand.

There are many science experiments that are on-line that help teach basic principles. They require things you already have at home. This helps children be interested in learning.
I personally have left this area for their own development, but other moms thrive with these hands-on experiments for their children. 

Find your child’s interests.
Your children must do something to find their interests. They can’t just watch something.
Pursue them. I’ve written about that in these articles: Finding Your Child's Gifts, and Developing Your Child's Gifts.
Is it gardening but you have no room? Plant some vegetables in containers. The containers don’t have to be fancy. Use an empty bucket. This can be another tool to teach responsibility. Watering requires remembering! There are many helps on-line.

Do they like art? There are many crafts on-line that require little materials; some found at the dollar store.
When my boys were small, I tried over and over again to get some of them to just color. They were not interested.
Any craft project became an exercise in developing patientce in me and frustration in them. I stopped trying.
When our youngest wouldn’t stop coloring, I found he was interested in drawing.
Don’t force it. But encourage those who are frustrated but show interest. (Knowing your child’s limits helps.)

Read to your children. 
Don’t have any books? If you can’t go to the library now, download a book online. Talk about the book. Teach your child in those teachable moments. Don’t know what books? Here’s a list of what we’ve read: Book List: What Every Boy Wants To Read.
The afternoon slump is a good time to read. It offers a natural break to the work of the morning and rests the mind before the chores before dinner.

Teach your child to cook. (And clean up!)
My boys have made their own eggs on weekdays for years. (Now my youngest makes me gourmet eggs for breakfast. I make a big breakfast only on Saturdays.)
If you are not skilled, there are many on-line videos that show you what to do. 
Can’t cook because you don’t have the right ingredients? Experiment with what you have.
I didn’t have flour. I tried using cake mix for waffles—add an extra egg, use butter instead of oil, adjust the liquids. My husband liked them better than from scratch.
I used a cake mix with adjustments with corn meal for cornbread. Turned out fluffy and better.
When I could buy the flour, I bought some more cake mixes also.

Don’t have eggs? Use applesauce, a mashed banana, chia or flax seeds, vinegar and baking soda, or other alternatives. (I have  only personally substituted eggs with soy flour or applesauce.)
Use what you have. 

Or check with family and friends. Maybe they have extra. And you can swap what you have.
All this improves morale, but also helps you do the next thing.
Isolation creates fear and panic. Keep in contact with others. Not to hear the bad news but to see how they are doing. What they are trying.

Give your children chores
If you haven’t already taught them how to clean the bathroom, mop the kitchen floor, sweep the garage, This would be a great time to teach them. They can practice doing the chores every day!  I have written about chores before see: Made To Work

Being home all day helps make the chores more consistent and enforceable. Set a time for morning chores or afternoon chores where a set list must be done. Give everyone, (except your husband) a job. Make sure to inspect their work. (Children do what you inspect not what you expect.)

Go to the park or walk with your children.
Channel their energy constructively or you will have to redirect their undesirable activities.
Take a basketball and play at the park. Or set up a make-shift hoop on your garage door, or use an empty bucket. Play with them.
I was never good about this. I could make them work with me, but my husband helped with this play time.
(Caution: If your child is use to sitting all the time in front of an i-pad and not going outside, this will be hard at first. If you are use to sitting all the time, it will be doubly hard for you. But worth it.)
Rain and cold weather shouldn't stop you. Just dress appropriately. Take a warm shower when you return and don't stay in wet clothes.

Clean and Declutter!
Now you have time to do what you can’t on a regular basis. Go through the kids’ rooms with them. Get rid of toys they’ve outgrown. Find a family with smaller children who might like some of those stuffed animals or little clothes. Wash and share them. It will bless that family and your own child.

Organize the garage. 
Not to overstep your husband’s projects, but just to find where to park the car. Use your children’s help. 

Teach your children a new skill.  
Make a project together. Would a shelf help behind the washer and dryer. Have them help. Sometimes these are the WORST patient building projects I have done. (WORST—meaning, I learn a lot of patience.)  But the payment comes later, when their skills outdo yours.

Don’t have supplies? Would cardboard work for now? Ask for a box at a store. 
This is where the boys found that I could use lattice and duct tape for EVERYTHING.
Trust me, it can fix a lot.
With this extra time, maybe that project you’ve always wanted can be planned, but you must wait for the money.
Planning encourages hope. It redirects your thoughts from dwelling on problems. 

Use what you have to do what you need.
This isn’t something you do, it is a mindset that you develop when you have no money, but must fix something.

Does your yard need some work? 
Haven’t raked the leaves from fall? Or maybe it’s covered in snow. This time is normally a planning/wishing time that I must curb, because then I must water my wishes in the summer. But you now have extra time and so do your children. 
Plan. Prepare. That brings hope.

Doing something is better than doing nothing, even if it is something little.
You will be surprised how quickly your time passes. And you haven’t even worried. 
You’ve redirected your thoughts, and energy to something that you can do, instead of something you can’t do.
Like the story: The Little Engine That Could. He thought he could, so he did.

Write a letter, include a note from the kids to their grandparents or other family members.
This will encourage the kids. And the recipient. 
We have lost the art of writing on paper. It’s so much easier and quicker to text, but that writing on the paper makes you think differently. 
Help your children and yourself reach out to others.
It doesn’t have to be long. My granddaughter sends art from the girls with a little message that interprets what the drawing is. 
We are blessed. 
Are you meeting at your church? Send message to the pastor, the elderly, someone who lives alone.
Isolation encourages depression.

I can’t sing. I was once asked by a very musical teenager, "What are you singing?" (We were all singing together.) I answered, "Any note I can." Embarrassed by his question, I sang quieter. God doesn't tell us to sing well; He tells us to make a joyful noise. I can do that.
Listening to music is different than singing. Singing makes you think about the words more. This refreshes your soul. Because you are reminded God is still good. 
Sing with your children. Maybe they play an instrument. Can they learn some hymns to accompany your family singing?
Some of my most cherished memories of our growing family is when we sang together as a family. 
Now it’s not just I who play an instrument. Some of my boys have learned guitar. A man from church has been instrumental (pun intended) in not only helping them but developing their interest.
Singing and playing remind me to worship and praise God for what He has done. Keeps my thoughts from straying to problems.

Read the Bible together as a family. And by yourself.
Now that you have more time, schedule in Bible reading. Maybe this time you can make family devotions more consistent or start them.
Start somewhere in the Bible that has stories if you have younger children, like the Gospels. The Bible provides so many teachable moments, because your children ask and if you don’t know, you find out— “That’s a good question, let’s see if we can find the answer together.” If you don’t know where to begin, ask a member of your church. Research it on your own.

Reading a chapter of Proverbs a day will get you through the book in one month. What wisdom!
Reading the Psalms will show you how David coped when things were tough.
The Old Testament is filled with stories of Israel: their obedience and blessing, their disobedience and chastisement. Wonderful teachable moments!
Don’t just read to get it done—Read to understand. 
Think about the people whom it's talking about. They were real people. What would they think about God’s instructions? How hard would it be to obey? How did God deal with them? You will get a better appreciation for their obedience. You will learn to know God better.
Ask God what He wants you to know.

Memorize the Bible
I struggle with this one. I am great at telling, but when I try to quote the verses that I work on, they are lost in some jumbled mess. It requires great concentration. 
Memorize the verses as a family. When the boys were small, we would do chapters at a time. Say a phrase, have them repeat it five times, then do another phrase, five times. Then add the two together. Have individual children say it. Move on to another phrase. Explain any words or concepts that might be difficult. By using this method, we quoted entire chapters as a family. 
Now the boys work on their memorizing by themselves. They have memorized the book of Philippians and some chapters of Proverbs.
Those words I have learned as a child still come back to me when I need it or to convict me of what I should do. 
God’s Word does not return void.

People are genuinely afraid. Show them the peace that only God can give. If I fill my mind with what's going on, I, too, get afraid.
When I meditate on God and Who He is, I have peace.
Pray for our country. for her people. for your church. for your family. for your husband. for you.
Use this “extra time” to find what God wants you to do.
Maybe it’s something different.
Maybe it’s just to do the next thing.
Maybe it’s something that will make you uncomfortable—let God direct your steps, your thoughts, your habits.
So you will be ready for whatever He wants next.

Use this time God has given you at home to know and help your children for the days ahead. 
The time will be well spent and bring God glory and praise.

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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