I remember those days when I had two little ones at home, and one was an extrovert. I guess all kids are pretty active much of the time and our mom-radar is tuned in to them, and so as introverts we soon feel exhausted.
Right now, during this COVID-19 pandemic, with schools closed, you and other parents might be feeling like “victims” of whatever the day consists of, so you feel powerless. The antidote, then, would be to vigorously take charge of the day and make it what YOU need it to be.
What might work in dealing with children at home is taking charge of the day by instituting “systems”: Break up the day into distinct active/passive (noisy/quiet) segments and physical zones for each – and follow up with a simple, ongoing reward system for the quiet times.
This will work even better if you get buy-in from your children by creating the new schedule together with them and describe the reward system (after you’ve pre-created the general idea so you have something to present.)
The reward system can be as simple as quietly placing a token (a button or anything like that) in front of them (without saying a word) about every 10 minutes you catch them doing the right thing, i.e., being quiet, staying on task, etc. The tokens can be cashed in for some rewards you set up ahead of time.
I saw the power of this when I briefly worked at a tutoring company. While the children were working, we’d set a token in front of them at variable intervals while they were working quietly. We’d see them briefly shine with pleasure, then get right back to concentrating because they knew that more tokens were possible. At the end of the learning time, they’d go over to the “store” and shop for the various toys and books they could buy with the tokens.
The reward could also be one token = 10 minutes of backyard time, or something like that. Of course it has to be something they value, and that info can come out of the “meeting” you have with them. Each segment of the day could have its own reward afterwards.
If one of your goals is to create large blocks of alone time, where you don’t have to be in the room with your children, you could ring a bell every 10 minutes they’re not bugging you (from whatever room you’re in) to signal that they’ve earned another token. You just have to keep track of how many times you’ve rung it!
Making sure it’s a system where your children can succeed in doing it is key. If, say a quiet reading time was two hours, and your children can only do it for a half hour, it’s not going to work. So knowing the limitations of the children is necessary to keep it realistic.
Basically, the idea is to radically take charge of the day and make sure everyone’s needs are met – not the least of which are YOUR needs!