Quarantine has forced many of us to isolate with our children. For those trying to juggle work, home, and entertaining kids, this is a delicate and stressful situation to navigate. While month four probably feels like year four, trust that someday their schools and daycares will reopen. Also remember that the whole world is in the same situation—your child isn’t falling behind in any way, and all parents are trying to navigate this strange time together. In the meantime, here are some tips for parenting during quarantine.
1. KIDS ENTERTAINMENT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED
Just because parents have more time to spend with their children, it doesn’t mean that you have to fill that time with grand gestures of entertainment. Especially if you have small children, entertaining can be as simple as exploring the backyard for the beginnings of a rock collection. Also, don’t berate yourself if they end up with more screen time than usual. Keep it simple to keep your sanity.
2. KEEP UP A SCHEDULE (BUT DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP IF IT GOES OFF TRACK)
We’ve all probably read a hundred times by now that children thrive on consistency and scheduling, so in a best-case scenario, you maintain as normal of a schedule as possible. As we’ve learned through this pandemic, though, sometimes unexpected events crop up and can derail us from our best intentions. Don’t beat yourself up if screen time goes for longer than it should or you let your kids sleep in for an extra 30 minutes of quiet.
3. READ TO YOUR CHILDREN
A fun, cheap, and educational activity with lasting developmental benefits? Sign us up! Depending on your child’s age, designate time to either read to them or have them read to you. If they’re old enough to hear one of your childhood favorites, now might be a great time to bust through Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia together. Since we’re also living through a Civil Rights movement, now is also a great time to diversify your bookshelves. Even though we’re all living in our very private, insular corners of the world right now, you can still explore the world and meet different types of people through books and stories.
4. ADJUST YOUR SCHEDULE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
For parents who are working and parenting during quarantine, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to work uninterrupted for 8 hours a day until schools and daycares reopen. Remember that your main priority is guiding your family safely through a global pandemic—and your coworkers know this (and may be in the same boat). It’s OK to block time on your calendar for childcare and be upfront with your coworkers about times when you cannot be available for calls.
5. TEACH YOUR KIDS NEW SKILLS
In case you need another reminder: we are living through a global pandemic and you are doing a great job even if that means your kids have food and shelter right now. But if you have the time and energy, this could be a great time to teach kids new skills and help them develop hobbies that will last them through social distancing and beyond. If they’re interested, it’s a great time to show them some of your hobbies that you can do together, like cooking, reading, listening to music, etc. Better yet, learn something new together—if you’ve been thinking about learning to code or knit but commuting and travel has kept you from it, now’s the time, and why not share the experience—and life skill—with your kid(s).
6. GET OUTSIDE
Being in nature has been one of the saving graces of quarantine—even if that’s just taking 30 minutes to sit on a patch of grass in a city park. Whether you’re playing tag, going for a scavenger hunt for things you might find in your neighborhood, or simply plopping your baby on a blanket in the grass, make sure—especially in these summer months—you and your kids are getting some Vitamin D.
7. GET YOUR CHILDREN MOVING
This one is tricky especially if you’re trying to work all day and maintain a somewhat normal schedule for your kids, but if quarantine has made us anything, it’s creative! From a 5-minute family dance party to a multi-hour hike or urban trek, it’s so important we keep moving during this time. Not only to maintain our physical health, but to shake feelings of stagnation that can come from sitting in the same space, day after day. While your kids may be missing the ways they normally get moving, like sports teams and summer camp, now may be the perfect time to introduce them to kid-friendly yoga or organize a family “Olympics” with age-appropriate challenges.
8. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Quarantine parenting is an extremely stressful situation to navigate and that feeling that stress doesn’t make you any less of a loving, wonderful parent. Maintain as much of your own self-care as you can, and try to remind yourself that your goal here is to keep your family safe through a global pandemic—not to have your child skip three grade levels due to your exceptional homeschooling skills. We all know that you can’t pour from an empty cup, so prioritize time—even if it’s 10 minutes a day—for meditation, a hot bath, a quick yoga sequence, a solo walk, or whatever you need to nurture the amazing parent that you are.