Children at home

When Everyone’s Home, Make the Most of Quarantine & Snow

Whether home during a snow day or quarantined during the Coronavirus pandemic, figuring out how to work from home while entertaining children is difficult. In this guide, we’ll help you get through these difficult times with smiles, order, and great memories.

Kids are used to routines. Every morning they wake up, get dressed, brush their teeth, and get ready for school. Even infants have a sense of the rhythm of the day. While the occasional snow day is fun, calling for sledding parties and extra TV time, 2-3 days of school closings are not. If we are discussing the Coronavirus, it may be months of homeschooling.

Routine & Schedule

Here is a sample schedule to help you enjoy the day, not just get through it:

  1. Morning Yoga – Youtube has great child yoga lessons.
  2. Snack – Prepare a good-sized snack the night before that can be pulled out quickly during the workday. Bonus points if it is something that involves some time and effort on the kids’ part (i.e. a cookie will only take a moment but having them peel their own orange or hard boiled egg will be an activity in itself -just remember to start it with them.
  3. Story Time – ABC Mouse or other services have great educational programming that can be viewed or interacted with by young children.
  4. Building Time – Blocks, Legos, Magnatiles, and sticks.
  5. Lunch – This can be a joint effort. As you take a break, make some lunch together. Pancakes are a great option – most kids love them, and making them together is a fun activity for all and a good use of time. 
    Tip: For more energetic children, make a game of how slowly they can bring over the flour, sugar, or milk. Sometimes that time holding a heavy object is just what they need. 
    1. Place all ingredients on the counter and have them bring over each item one at a time. 
    2. Have the kids measure out the ingredients.
    3. Count down together with the microwave while melting butter.
    4. Take turns whisking the batter.
    5. Have them stand on a chair safely around the stove. Everyone gets a job – directing when to pour the batter, counting out chocolate chips to add on top of each pancake (you thought we weren’t going to add chocolate chips?), and deciding when to flip the pancakes (a great job for the oldest child).
    6. Finally, make a joint decision on when to remove them from the pan.
  6. Individual time – Each child has to pick something to do and verbalize their activity before leaving the lunch table. This helps ensure that they stick to their quiet time.
  7. Movie Time! – It may be easiest to decide on which movie to watch at the beginning of the day.
  8. Evening routine – Continue the evening as usual. As hard as the day has been for you, the change isn’t easy for the kids either. Keeping to your normal evening schedule will help everyone wrap up the day in a positive way. 
    1. Dinner
    2. Bath/shower
    3. Story
    4. Bedtime
  9. A well-deserved glass of wine or hot cocoa is in order! 

It is important to let children know about the plan for the day early on. If they will also be home the following day, let them know how great they were (even if sibling fights occurred) and that the next day will follow a similar schedule.

Parent Taking The Day Off

Taking the day off from work comes with its own challenges. Giving your little ones the attention they need requires plenty of extra love and patience. 

We recommend having a bit more of a go-with-the-flow mentality. Try not to put specific times to activities. For those who are not used to controlling their own schedule, following a clock may feel overwhelming. Instead, create an order for the day, then add 3-4 optional items. This will help if one activity does not go long enough or if your schedule takes less time than planned. 

Be aware of school snack times and try to keep to them as much as possible. Sometimes dropping a plate of apples and grapes on the table can save the day.

Work From Home Parent

In today’s modern workspaces, office closures do not necessarily come with time off. You are expected to somehow perform your duties from a makeshift workspace with very curious and energetic children surrounding you.

For this reason, we would like to suggest the “all hands on deck” model. This means that all decisions are family decisions. Take a piece of paper or whiteboard and think out very clearly about how the day will go. Ensure that your kids can read at least the hour of a digital clock.  If there are strict do-not-disturb times, then it is important to make that clear in advance. Place some kind of marker on the door that signals for them not to come in. At the same time, announce that there will be a reward of some kind for good, quiet behavior. 

Meeting tip: Try to schedule a movie for the children during your meeting times. Do not start your meeting with “Sorry if my kids barge in.” If they do come in during the meeting, place yourself on mute and remind the kids of the reward they will get if they walk out immediately.

Pre-Schooler Parents

You are in for some extra fun today. Try to take a vacation day or ask if you can follow up on emails during nap time. Think of all the activities you enjoyed as a child (and honestly, would still enjoy!), like finger painting, playdough, building blocks, etc. Play right alongside them, and don’t forget the snacks!

All Parents

Whether you are a parent of infants or teenagers, these unexpected days off can be challenging. Fights will happen, people will get annoyed, and your patience will be tried. 

Relax. It’s hard to be in close quarters. Make sure to take some time for yourself for meditation, yoga, or an extra cup of coffee (and maybe a cookie for dunking). Whatever happens, remember that this is a temporary change – you will get through it. In the meantime, do your best to enjoy the fun family moments and memories that can come from this extra time together.