The coronavirus outbreak is a stressful time for everyone, and working parents are adapting to a new dynamic of family life as they face new challenges. As they try to balance work with homeschooling for the kids and implement new daily schedules and early morning routines, many find themselves wondering how to do it all. It’s challenging enough to find a work-life balance when you’re at the office. But what about when you’re at home?
There is a new “normal” affecting everyone, with many working from home unsure of when they will return to the office. With many schools turning to virtual learning until summer arrives, moms and dads are finding ways to keep kids busy, engaged, and active while still meeting professional obligations.
If you’re in this boat, you know that it’s no easy task. While you’re home with your kids, whether they’re younger children or teens, it’s essential to develop a plan for your current situation. If you are not currently working, you may find yourself wondering what to do with your kids at home. Here are our best tips.
Set a Routine
While you’re home with the kids, set a routine for both you and them. Sit down and go over the schedule with them, explaining the timeframe, what the expectations are, and why the schedule needs to be put in place. Older children will have an easier time grasping this, but it’s a good idea to do this with the little ones too.
Invite your children to ask questions, raise concerns, and be open to suggestions. Hang the schedule somewhere everyone can see it. For small children, color coding things often works well.
How to Create a Schedule
You may set wakeup for 7:30 am, breakfast at 8 am, and school/work hours from 9 am-11 am. Designate a color for wakeup and hygiene time, a color for meals, and another color for work hours. You can also plan breaks throughout the day, quiet time, and anything else your family needs to accommodate.
For older children, set the expectation that they are to be working on their designated tasks. Take this as an opportunity to be hands-on in teaching teens time management skills. Younger children may need re-direction from time to time, which is why a colorful and highly visible chart helps.
Whether you are working from home or otherwise, sticking to a schedule gives children a sense of security and can help parents from feeling overwhelmed or unsure of what to do. Your schedule may need to change weekly based on priority tasks.
Create Your Own Space
While you’re at home with the kids, it may seem like your house is a bit of a free-for-all. Toys and video game controllers sprawled across the living room, the remnants from lunch left in the kitchen. You may feel as if your house is unrecognizable.
To maintain a sense of serenity and calm when things are getting hectic, set up a “you-only” space. This could be your master bedroom or your home office. Let the kids know that this is mom’s and dad’s space only. It’s important to remember that parents need self care, too, especially in challenging times.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to retreat to the parents-only space for a few minutes. Take a moment to clear your head and regroup. Mini meditation sessions are an excellent way to do this.
Activities to Try with Children at Home
You may be struggling to keep the kids occupied. They likely aren’t used to staying home all day and have a bit of pent-up energy. It’s time to get creative with activities that keep them busy while still stimulating their brains.
- Consider limiting screen-time and finding interactive ways to keep them busy.
- You can find age-appropriate chores so they can help around the house.
- Engage them with brain training activities for kids to stimulate their minds.
- Plan a spa-day and use this time to introduce them to makeup.
Remember that even though most communities are under stay-at-home orders, it’s still important to get outside for sun and fresh air. If you have a backyard or a big driveway, designate outdoor playtime each day. Or, set aside time every evening for a family walk around the neighborhood. In a time when many feel trapped and start to go stir-crazy, stepping outside can provide a sense of relief.
Recipes for Family Fun
As much as you may want to avoid that mess in the kitchen, there’s no denying that making recipes with your kids can be a lot of fun. If you’re looking for ideas that kids will love, try these.
- Low-calorie ice cream recipes you can make at home
- Ways to recreate your fast-food cravings at home
- Donut recipes you can make in your kitchen
- No-bake dessert recipes
- Healthy versions of kids favorites
- Microwaveable meals you can create in 5 minutes or less
And because we know sometimes you’re exhausted, try these six dinner recipes to make when you don’t feel like cooking. If you’re crunched on time while working from home but still want to ensure the kids get a balanced lunch, learn how to master the art of meal prepping so they’re set for the week.
Keeping Kids Calm
As parents, it can be challenging to know if your children feel stressed, try this quiz to see if they are. Helping your kids remain calm and control their anxiety can be a challenge when most parents are under a lot of stress themselves. Consider incorporating these calming techniques to help both of you stay calm, even when facing adversity and uncertainty.
- Affirmations to share with children
- Soothing children to sleep
- Teach them about active meditation
- Try some breathing exercises together
- Listen to a meditation playlist
- Show them how to start a self-care journal
Set Aside Family Time
While the urge to keep kids busy during the day is understandable, and you feel as if you’re in close quarters all the time, it’s still important to focus on family time. Set aside time for family dinners, pick a night to play your family’s favorite board game, or do arts and crafts with the kids.
Maintaining a bond right now can help ease children’s anxiety, and there are excellent memories to be made even during these uncertain times.
When you suddenly find yourself in the house, practicing safe social distancing from the outside community, find another family member that you can lean on for support. Remember that while you are facing uncertainty and anxiety, your children likely are as well.
Remind them that no matter what, you are there for them. Your children may see alarming news on television or the internet. Encourage them to come to you with questions and to share their fears. It’s okay to let them know that you are scared too. Children often sense the anxiety and fear of parents, and honesty is the best policy during this trying time.
GR8NESS is Here for You
At GR8NESS, we are facing the same challenges as all of those in our community. It is our goal to provide you with information, helpful tips, advice, and new ideas to help your family navigate this new and challenging time. We wish all of our readers well.
If there is a parenting topic you would like to see us cover, let us know.