As a result of the spread of COVID-19 across the US, the day-to-day life of American families has been turned upside down in a way we’ve never seen in our history. The days of dropping kids off at school or daycare and running them to extracurricular activities in the afternoons have changed for the foreseeable future.

Being thrown into this new “normal,” parents are finding themselves working from home while facilitating online learning and nurturing their child’s health by trying to facilitate these new routines. While what these families are far from what we’ve all known as normal, it’s even more important to foster a daily routine, to allow the child to feel some semblance of consistency in this new world they’re living in. In fact, routines can help strengthen a child’s connections in their brain allowing them to experience a sense of independence, comfort, and stability. Repetition and routines are to learning!

Check out these 5 tips for keeping your family in a routine while quarantining at home.

1. Create a daily schedule and post-it! Grab a large whiteboard or chalkboard and write down your family’s schedule from morning wake-ups to bedtime. Place the schedule in an area that has high visibility like the kitchen. Add mealtimes, activities, school work, conference calls, and nap and quiet times to the schedule. Allow the child to have a say in the schedule, specifically for where the fun or get moving activities should be. Creating a daily schedule together will give the children ownership of it and less nagging from the parent.

2. Stay consistent with bedtime and morning routines. The school year may look a little different for now but it’s not summer break. Keeping children on their regular sleep routines will not only help them stay healthy (more zzz’s = better health), having a consistent bedtime and wake-up time allows children to tackle the day positively. This type of structure organically teaches them accountability and allows them to feel personal success throughout the day! Bonus, when school IS back to in-school learning, you won’t have to deal with grumpy gooses to get out of bed, they’ll already be accustomed to it!

3. Keep learning a top priority. While school may not be physically in session, almost every school is now offering virtual learning opportunities for their students. If your school falls into this category, first, ensure your child has a quiet area to do their work. Set them up at the kitchen table or home office, then, make a note to set up your child’s schoolwork the night before (print pages, set up online meetings) to help keep everyone on track! For kids who are accustomed to switching classrooms throughout the day, set-up multiple areas, and have the kids experience a couple of state changes throughout the day. For example, a desk upstairs and then downstairs at the kitchen table. 

Tip: Have them wake up and get dressed as if they are going to school. Especially if they wear a uniform. This allows them to shift their brains to learning and a prepared state for the day.

4. Make time for meal prep. With your whole family at home, and many restaurants only offering take-out opportunities, you’re probably finding yourself cooking a lot. While it’s ok to wing it – save yourself a little bit of time and plan your meals a day or even a few days in advance. This can help you stay on track with eating healthier and even use some of those pantry items that you’ve stocked up on! Don’t forget those snacks! Create snack bins for the day and let them choose those snacks: 1 fruit, 1 veggie, 1 protein, and 1 treat! Let the kids participate in the meal/snack prep process!

5. Remember to make time to move each day. Whether it’s a family walk around the block, a soccer game in the backyard, or an in-gym or virtual The Little Gym class, it’s important to make time to get moving each day to help decrease stress, reset your brain, and remain in a state of healthy and happy.

Implementing and sticking to a routine while stuck at home will help the whole family stay on track both mentally and physically and prep everyone for when life gets back on track again!