Parenting Tips: Structuring Time at Home While Learning Remotely
First, be kind to yourself. Your own self-care should be part of every day. Following are some strategies for navigating the next weeks at home together. Trying to model a calm and reassuring attitude is the goal, not perfection. The strategies below offer ways to support that process.
Routines, exercise, sleep and screen time. Research indicates that children do best with structure and predictable routines. Developing family routines can support emotional well being and minimize the pleading and arguing children are more likely to do when they are overtired or bored.
Have a regular sleep schedule. Sleep is essential for your child’s health. The American American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) age-based guidelines can be found here. Waking and going to bed at different times can disrupt sleep. Avoid screen time 1-2 hours before bed.
Create a designated area where your child will do school work. Organize it with the supplies they will need. This can help children achieve the right mindset for studying.
Eat meals together at regular intervals. Maintaining this simple family activity can be reassuring for children, and provides a time for everyone to unwind and laugh together while talking about the day.
Create “jobs to be done” each day according to age. This builds independence, a sense of purpose, and helps the whole family function better together. Meal time is a great way to engage all the children and have fun, whether it means cracking eggs, or setting the table.
Dedicate time for daily exercise. Outside is best (for everyone in the family!), but inside can work too. The AAP recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day for children 6 and older, and it doesn’t need to be done all at one time. Consider jumping rope, playing in the backyard, a game of duck-duck-goose, or a family hike. Find more ideas here.
Schedule daily quiet time in separate rooms: You need it, and so do your children. Being together all day will have its own unique challenges, and scheduling a short “breather” without interruption, will help you be a better parent. For children, quiet time alone can help them develop the ability to engage in independent activities and relax. In the beginning, you may need to suggest activities, such as draw, build a fort, or read.
Technology: Develop a family media plan. Find an interactive resource for building a personalized plan that works within your family’s values and lifestyle here.
Find a sample schedule here. Remember to be flexible and adaptable. Be reassured that finding the rhythm that works best for your own family will be an ongoing process with lots of twists and turns, and something all families will share.
If you have any questions or would like more ideas for unique situations, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Boller's approach is solution focused, and research based. Compassion and informed hope are the values that serve as her guide. She has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and is a licensed psychologist. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Utah, Dept. of Psychiatry, providing training seminars to psychiatry residents. Dr. Boller volunteers for the Utah Psychological Association, as well as the Utah Critical Incident Stress Management Team, a multidisciplinary team that provides support to first responders.