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Working From Home with Kids During Coronavirus Quarantine? Do This First.

A mom working at the dining room table to create a schedule with her young son.
Fabio Principe/Shutterstock

The world is struggling to cope with the chaos of COVID-19 as schools are closing left and right. If you’re suddenly stuck working from home with the kids running amok, here’s what you need to do first.

Sit down and plan a concrete schedule! Trust us, adding structure to your kids’ day will be a total game changer. Why? Because kids are used to structure every day at school. Enforcing structure at home will make all these changes less, well, overwhelming and disruptive.

We suggest calling a family meeting, letting everyone share their ideas about what a productive routine should look like. How much time should be allotted for academics? Outside play? Creative exploration? What about screen time? Kids are way more compliant with a new plan if they’ve been given a chance to contribute towards it.

For instance, maybe in your child’s school math time is right after lunch or they have read-aloud storytime before lunch. They may want to continue doing that at home because it feels like the normal rhythm of the day. So, definitely let them voice their opinions (but don’t feel like you need to incorporate every idea they suggest).

If your kids are resistant to structure, remind them that they’d normally be in school right now. This isn’t a vacation. Just because school’s closed doesn’t mean they get to be lazy. It’s time to think like a homeschooler!

The Schedule

We’ve gone ahead and come up with a basic timeline for your day. But, of course, you know your kids better than we do! So, use this template as a starting point, tweaking it as you see fit.

  • 7:00 a.m. Morning Routine: Wake up, get dressed, and have breakfast.
  • 8:00 a.m. Circle Time: Talk about the day’s agenda, goals, and hand out printed copies of the schedule.
  • 8:30 a.m. Exercise: Rotate each morning’s activity, such as dance, yoga, taking a walk, or playing tag. Keep it interesting and fun!
  • 9:00 a.m. Math: They can use their school book or play free online math games.
  • 9:30 a.m. Writing: Assign them different writing prompts every day. (This is a great project to continue, even when school’s in session!)
  • 10:00 a.m. Other subjects: Such as science, social studies, history, or geography. Explore a different topic each day to prevent boredom from setting in.
  • 10:30 a.m. Morning snack: Have something easy and simple that the kids can prepare by themselves.
  • 11:00 a.m. Chores: Here are some tips on how to get your kids to clean their room.
  • 11:30 a.m. Outdoor time: Run outside, build a fort, jump in puddles, make a snowman—the ideas for outdoor fun are endless! If the weather prevents you from playing outside, then change this to free time, family board games, or reading.
  • 12:00 p.m. Lunch prep: Make sure everyone pitches in, including cleaning up afterwards.
  • 12:30 p.m. Lunch: Eat outside if you can to get some extra fresh air.
  • 1:15 p.m. Quiet time: Your kids can do anything during this time, as long as they’re quiet. (Try to save screen time for later, though.)
  • 2:00 p.m. New skills: Arts and crafts, learning a new language, pottery, baking, the list goes on and on!
  • 3:00 p.m. Electronics: Try to keep it educationally focused, if possible. Include a healthy afternoon snack if needed.
  • 4:00 p.m. Outdoor time: Let them run free!
  • 5:00 p.m. Dinner prep: Make it a group effort.
  • 5:30 p.m. Dinner: Yay, you’ve survived another day!

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed or struggling with this new and unexpected situation, read more tips on how to work from home when you have kids. Also, check out how to deal with unexpected school closures.

Above all else, stay calm and in control. If your kids can behave and follow a regular routine at school, they can do it at home, too!

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »

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