With schools being closed for an undetermined amount of time, the pressure falls on us as parents to set up a daily plan that will minimize disruptions to our kids as much as possible.
This is easier said than done. Many of us will be trying to work full-time jobs from home, with our kids as our unanticipated co-workers. I love my kids, but they’re unruly as far as co-workers go, and my guess is that if yours are under a certain age, they are too.
I realize that many parents have additional (significant) pressures to contend with, like the threat of lost wages, and very real child care concerns. I obviously can’t tackle all of the gigantic, looming issues we are facing as a country, but in this post I’m going to try to provide some guidance for parents who will be home with their kids, and are trying to come up with a game-plan to provide their kids with some normalcy while also juggling work and family responsiblities.
I created a sample daily schedule to help with this.
Clearly every family will have to tweak their schedule to make it work with your own kids. Older children may need longer time spent on academics, while younger kids might need less instruction and more time mucking around outside.
This post is meant to give you a starting place to work off of.
The important elements to maintain in a schedule, like the example given below, are: learning time, play time, rest time, and exercise. Kids also should, you know, still eat and bathe too. It’s a weird time to be on the planet, but let’s not totally devolve here.
Remember, “outdoor play” can cover exercise and play time, and learning can take many different forms (from building a bridge with Legos to spending an hour reading a fiction book).
Note: there are some excellent kids’ yoga videos on YouTube – we especially love Cosmic Kids. If you can work this into your day, I highly suggest it.
Plan out the schedule with your kids’ input
If your kids are at least elementary school aged, sit down with them and come up with a schedule together.
The more kids can feel a sense of control over their situation, the better. In these early days our kids are probably not feeling much stress about their suddenly changed daily routines. But the stress will set in shortly if there isn’t a good plan in place, and feeling control over one’s situation is just as powerful for kids as it is for adults.
So, let your child help you make the plan.
Draft it up together, and have your child write it out if they’re able. This can become an art project that gets displayed on the fridge, and hopefully your child will feel some ownership over it.
Make your own copy to keep on-hand, or on your phone, as the case may be.
Here is what a daily routine could look like
Daily Routine During School Shut Downs
7:00 - 9:00 AM
Wake up, wash up, breakfast
9:00 - 11:00
11:00 - 12:00
Free play/socialize/outdoor time
12:00 - 12:30
12:30 - 1:30
1:30 - 2:30
2:30 - 3:30
Free play/socialize/outdoor time
3:30 - 4:00
4:00 - 5:00
5:00 - 6:00
6:00 - 7:30
TV or movie
7:30 - 8:30
Baths and bedtime routines
Incorporate familiar routines from the classrooms
Does your child have a “job” at school? Snack helper? Line leader? Calendar helper? If you have a young child, try to give them a choice of jobs, like classroom teachers do.
Maybe your first grader can do the weather report for you every morning. Perhaps your second grader can be in charge of handing out snacks to his siblings, etc. It’s a variation on chores, but reincorporates some familiar routines from the classroom setting that your kids may soon be missing.
Keep the schedule as consistent as you can, but not militaristic
Your kids aren’t cadets at West Point. A little variation to the days is fine, but having a general sense of what elements the day should include, and in what order, will help you and your child maintain a sense of normalcy.
Having a routine in place will also help you plan your day, especially if you’ll be working from home.
If you know your child has “quiet time” for an hour, that’s a good time to schedule your conference call.
If your child is doing their independent reading time, maybe you can use that hour to send off some emails.
No matter what schedule you create, this will not be a perfect system
We are in a highly unusual situation. You can take comfort in the fact that every other family is dealing with complicated logistics and less than ideal work conditions. This should make it easier for everyone to cut each other a little slack here.
Routines that you should not negotiate on
If you have young kids, I would make it a priority to keep bedtimes and meal times as consistent as you possibly can. Keeping a young child up way past bedtime on a regular basis will be nobody’s friend here.
An older child or teenager might have a little leeway to stay up late and watch a movie, since they can sleep in a little later the next day (although I wouldn’t let them sleep too late on a daily basis!). But for young kids, getting the proper amount of sleep is one of the key elements in their ability to self-regulate. This isn’t a good time to short-change in this area.
Remember that this is only for a season
I don’t know how long this is going to last, and neither do you. That makes it hard on everyone. But what we do know is that this isn’t a new permanent way of life – it’s a disruption for a season.
Need more camaraderie in your day? Follow A Mothership Down on Facebook!
Want A Mothership Down delivered to your inbox? SUBSCRIBE HERE.