We’re all living in uncharted times. Schools teaching classes online, restaurants and businesses closed, and entire offices working from home. But while we’re all trying to adjust to this new reality, parents have the added challenge of trying to maintain a somewhat normal routine for their children, some of whom need more attention and care than others. Here are some helpful tips from the Washington Post for parents struggling to find the right balance.

  1. Make a schedule and stick to it.

    Kids are used to having a routine at school; they will adjust easier if they have one to follow at home as well. The key is to find a balance between inactivity, activity and social interaction. Melanie Auerbach, the director of student support at the Sheridan School in the District suggests having your kids get up at the same time Monday-Friday, setting a schedule for when they will read, do math, have free time, meals and physical activity, and making them go to bed at a reasonable hour. She also recommends building in breaks, because trying to get kids to sit still and work for three hours straight won’t end well for anyone. Here is a list of educational companies offering free services, and Distance Learning Resources from the Smithsonian.

  2.  Avoid indoor playdates and playground equipment

    The key to slowing this pandemic down is to avoid as much interaction as possible and practice social distancing. According to Pediatrician Peter Jung, “as parents, if we don’t take it seriously and curb face-to-face interaction, we defeat the purpose of closing schools and workplaces.” Even though in the case of the coronavirus, kids have mostly been carriers, they can pass the virus on to grown-ups easily. Outside activities like riding bikes should be fine, but avoid playground equipment which has been touched by many children’s hands (and, let’s be honest, probably face too).

  3. Get creative with screen time

    While you don’t want your kids spending all day on a screen, this isn’t the time to ban it altogether, either. Devorah Heitner, the author of “Screenwise,” recommends setting it up in a way so kids won’t get completely sucked in. Learn a new skill together on YouTube, FaceTime, text, or game with friends, or find educational games for your child’s age group. Here are some great online educational resources that you can play with your kids!

  4. Help each other out

    Try to discuss ahead of time with the family what everyone’s scheduling needs are for the day, blocking out times for meetings or other tasks that require your undivided attention. Emily Paisner, a workplace expert for Care.com also points out that many people who are out of work temporarily and college students who are home from school may be looking for a way to earn some extra money. “It may be a good opportunity to match people who are experiencing economic hardship who could help with caregiving while parents are strapped trying to watch kids and work.”

  5. Keep calm, and carry on

    Elizabeth Meade, a Seattle pediatrician, recommends keeping the news and radio off when young kids are around, as they don’t know how to interpret the details. Older children probably know more, she said, and this is a good time to start the conversation with them by asking what they have heard about this, and then go from there. It’s important not to get sucked into the endless loop news channels. Take breaks, get outside, and make sure your children (and you) are eating healthy meals regularly. Read this article from PBS about tips on how to talk to your kids about the Coronavirus.

To read the full Washington Post article, click here.

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