School’s out for many in the country; here’s how to balance online and offline time at home.
As COVID-19 takes its toll, many parents in the U.S. are taking precautions by working from home, homeschooling, or seeking school alternatives. This sudden interruption in our lives has everyone scrambling for how to balance it all without external help. Keeping kids focused on schoolwork at home is hard enough, but a whole day? “During this difficult time when many parents are stressed, it’s important to keep structure to maximize the health of the whole family,” says Dr. Catherine Pearlman, a.k.a. The Family Coach.
Schedules and routines help parents stay organized, keep the house and everyone in it clean and ready for the day, and manage work and some self-care. “Everyone needs to take care of their mental health as well as physical health,” says Dr. Pearlman. “Routines, where all of the necessities are scheduled in, can help greatly.”
Here are ways to keep the day balanced and kids engaged online and off:
- Start your day like any day. Even if you have nowhere to go, act like you do. Have everyone shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and brush their teeth. Keep mealtimes and bedtimes relatively consistent too. “When kids are sleep deprived for more than a day or so, are hungry due to late meals or out of their routine in other ways, their behavior, cognition, and emotional stability is decreased,” says Dr. Pearlman. “Consistency is so, so important,” she adds.
- Find a set time for academic work. For younger kids, it might be helpful to ask their teachers for their daily routine to maintain some normalcy. Academic learning for elementary kids will need to be spread out across the day. For older kids, they can hunker down for 2-3 hour stints, says Dr. Pearlman. “Don’t overdo it. Kids learn faster at home one-on-one,” she says.
- Write it down. Let everyone know the routine and display it somewhere so they get familiar with their new normal. Even set a timer for scheduled events to get everyone into the new daily habit. Remember to pencil in chores, like clean-up time, washing dishes, or taking out the trash after lunch. Here are more tips for creating structure at home from the CDC.
- Get outside. The weather is warming up in most of the country so it’s the perfect time to get outside in some fresh air. That may be just in your yard or a walk in the neighborhood while continuing to keep your social distance. ”Add exercise for at least 30 minutes a day,” adds Dr. Pearlman. “This could be walking the dog, playing Simon says, or jumping on a backyard trampoline,” she adds.
- Schedule a recess for all. Working with kids at home is a breeze, said no one ever. Take intermittent breaks from each other if you can. “Make sure there is rest time during the day when everyone disconnects from each other and plays or naps quietly,” says Dr. Pearlman.
- Set clear boundaries. “Screen time issues are going to be challenging right now,” said Dr. Delaney Ruston, creator of the award-winning film Screenagers, in a recent post. “BUT there are a lot of things we still can do.” Balance their time online and off with Dr. Ruston’s things to do for creative time online and offline or Circle’s 60 Things to Do With Kids, indoors and out.
Need help setting a regular screen time routine? Learn about Circle Home Plus’s new features for setting Filters, Bedtimes and Time Limits for the whole family.