#1 Establish a Routine That Works for Your Family
Life is disruptive enough right now. To avoid further disruption in your family’s life, create a routine that aligns with your family’s schedule, needs, and goals. Find small things that work for your family at any given time of the day.
#2 Adopt a Specific Schedule (If You Need To)
Some families may be able to thrive with a loose routine, while others might require a more iron-clad schedule to keep their household running smoothly.
If your kids are younger and unaccustomed to managing their own schedules, they may benefit from a more structured schedule that keeps them on task like this one created by this Massachusetts’s mom, Jessica McHale.
From wake up times and meal times to homework and break time, a detailed schedule can help kids stay mentally engaged and happy for however many weeks they’re home.
#3 Set Goals
Have you and your daughter been putting off a craft project because you couldn’t find the time to get started? Has your son been dying to take an online coding class? Now is the perfect time to get into gear and make those goals happen.
Setting definitive goals will help you and your family trigger new behavior, help you stay focused, and give you something to look forward to and strive for. Plus, when this is all over, you’ll have the benefit of knowing you focused your energy in a positive direction and did something good with your life.
#4 Divvy Up the Chores
With everyone being home far more than usual, it’s going to put a lot more pressure and stress on your family to keep up with the chores. Make life less stressful while instilling a few important lessons in your kids by divvying up the chores. Whether your kids take on the daily pet duty, take the dishes out of the dishwasher or fold laundry, they can and should help with chores. This is a trying time for everyone, which means everyone in the family needs to come together, pitch in and keep the house running smoothly as a team.
#5 Get Outdoors Every Day
Your family may not be able to hit the movie theater or spend the afternoon at the shopping mall, but you can still get outdoors and get some fresh air.
Grab the bikes and find a few new trails, go on a hike, pitch a tent in the backyard and have family camping night (if it’s warm enough) or build a bonfire in the backyard and make s’mores. Even if you do something simple like take a walk about the block, walk the dog, sit on the porch or take a run, get outdoors.
Not only will the fresh air and exercise boost your immune system, the mere smell of nature – flowers, fresh-cut grass, rain – has a way of lowering stress and anxiety, making us feel more relaxed and upping our mood.
#6 Don’t Put Your Health on the Back Burner
With the refrigerator now in easy reach of our kids (and us) and extracurricular activities and sports canceled in most areas indefinitely, it’s going to be all too easy for our kids to graze all day and potentially pack on a few pounds. To avoid it, say no to junk food, ditch the soda and pack the fridge with plenty of healthy food and drinks. Also, be sure to keep your family moving. You may not be able to hit the gym, but there are plenty of outdoor activities you can do to stay healthy and fit until you resume normal activities.
#7 Toss in Some Fun
For a lot of parents, the upside to the lockdown is the ability to enjoy more quality time with their kids – something that’s not always easy to do with teenagers.
Whether you bake an epic chocolate cake, break out the board games or 1000-piece puzzles, listen to music together, enjoy an outdoor adventure, learn something new together or make a plan to help others in need, make it a point to connect with your kids, do something you both enjoy and have a little fun.
#8 Flexibility is Key
New information is coming in daily from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and state government agencies who are all adopting new policies, announcing additional closures and offering suggestions faster than we can keep pace. Schools are also pounding us with new information as they, too, learn to adapt to online instruction.
Now is not the time to be steadfast in your ways. Stay fluid and flexible knowing that, on any given day, as new information is revealed, your family may have to shift gears and further adapt your routine and mindset.
#9 Cut Your Kids Some Slack
Chances are your kids are excited about not having to get up for school, catch the bus at 7:00 am, and deal with the rigor of their daily schedule. This time offers an opportunity for our kids to slow their pace a bit and catch their breath. Rather than striving to fill every gap in their day between online class instruction and homework with productive tasks to keep them busy, cut them a little slack.
If their online class instruction is flexible, let them sleep in. Even if you put screen time guidelines in place (which isn’t a bad idea for teens who are moderately addicted to their screens), be sure to give them a little latitude to play online games occasionally, watch Netflix, listen to music, hang out with their friends (virtually) or any other activity that helps them decompress and relax. This is a trying time for everyone, including our kids, and they need to have outlets to relieve stress and anxiety.
#10 Keep Expectations in Check
Sometimes too much of a good thing simply isn’t good. Face it; most of us aren’t accustomed to spending this much one-on-one time with our families. Sure, the first few days might be sheer heaven, but by week two or three we’re bound to feel the stress of living in such tight quarters with our family – especially having little to no major outlets to offer breathing room.
Don’t expect life to be smooth sailing. (If it is you’ll be pleasantly surprised.) Instead, lower your expectations and just go with the flow. There may be days your family gets on each other’s nerves, days the house will be a mess, days when your kids’ bedrooms (which are already a disaster), take on a whole new level of disarray and days your kids fight over the remote and who made the mess in the living room. Remember, this is all temporary. Take it all in stride, stay cool, keep your wits about yourself and forget the rest. You’ve got this!