With many families quarantined at home because of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, parents are now struggling with the daunting task of juggling full-time jobs and full-time parenting – quite literally – all under one roof.
One of the most proactive things you can do for your family right now is to create a routine that everyone in your household can follow.
In general, routines help people maintain a sense of calm and order. Under these extremely stressful circumstances, they also help provide a sense of normalcy in the face of so much uncertainty. Your children are used to a having a predictable schedule set for them in school, and they will likely adapt to an at-home schedule easier than you might think.
You can work together with your children to create a daily routine for your family. Once agreed upon, it’s important that this schedule be visible to everyone in your family. Write it down on paper and pin it to the fridge, or on a chalk board in your house where everyone can see it.
Your family’s schedule might look something like this:
8:30am – Start
Wake up. Eat breakfast together as a family. Shower and get dressed in normal clothes (it’s important for everyone to not stay in pajamas all day).
9:15am – Exercise
Encourage some exercise in the morning. If you can, go outside for a walk, play a sport, or ride a bike. If it’s raining, do yoga in the living room.
10:00am – Chores
Ask everyone to help with chores around the house. Having a clean house will make everyone more productive throughout the day, and it’s an opportunity to teach your kids some “adult skills” like making a grocery list or folding the laundry.
10:30am – Learning/Working Block
Your first of three 2-hour learning/working blocks. Your kids can use this time to work on assigned school assignments or homework. You can use this as a concentrated work block to start your workday.
12:30pm – Lunch
Break for a 30 minute lunch as a family.
1pm – Learning/Working Block
Your second 2-hour work block of the day. Encourage your kids to play online educational games (like Legends of Learning) that are already teacher approved and curriculum aligned.
3pm – Exercise
If you can, go for another walk outside. If you’re stuck indoors, try yoga, dance parties, or indoor challenges like how many times everyone and climb up and down the stairs.
4pm – Learning/Working Block
Your last 2-hour work block of the day. Make this one “quiet time” for your kids. They can use the time to read, make art, or take photos. As a parent, use this quiet time to wrap up your workday and plan out your to do list for tomorrow.
6pm – Dinner
Have dinner together as a family.
7pm – Free Time
Save 2 hours after dinner for “free time”. You can watch a movie as a family, FaceTime with family or friends, or play a board game.
9pm – Bedtime
Encourage your children to try journaling or meditating as a way to relieve some of the anxiety they may be feeling due to so much uncertainty.
The best way to keep your kids on track? Develop a rewards system that celebrates your kids when they stick to the above schedule. An example: perhaps they earn 5 minutes of screen-time for each learning block they complete without interrupting your work schedule.