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Managing your Time at Home with Kids During COVID

Managing time under regular circumstances is such an important skill, as part of leading a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. With the impending lockdown, and kids at home, managing our time takes on an entirely different meaning. Nevertheless, we all still have the same 24 hours a day, jobs, distance learning and the regular daily maintenance of running a home. It is a lot to handle! Take a deep breath, recognize that this is temporary and try to shift your mindset to a more positive one - focusing on the flexibility of not having anywhere to go and the benefits of more family time.

I’d like to offer some tips for planning your time while your kids are home:

1. Plan your time! Many people think that planning means no flexibility, but taking the time to plan will actually help you create more free time and give you the peace of mind of knowing when you need to do what. Map out a distance learning schedule for each child, and then plan a family schedule for the time aside from distance learning. We enter the zoom links into the kids’ calendars in advance, so they can easily log in on their own. Be sure to include outdoor time so that you can all get some fresh air and incorporate some form of movement every day.

2. List all the things you want to accomplish for the day (work, house-related and personal) and prioritize what is most important. Be realistic! All your kids are home - this is not the time to set lofty goals for yourself. Keep it simple and doable.

3. Have a conversation with your spouse about creating “do not disturb” times for each of you, where the kids know that you are not available and all their needs should be directed towards the other spouse. Put your phone on silent, close your door and get things done!

4. Plan your meals and snacks - when kids are home, they are hungry ALL THE TIME! Plan dinners together with them so that they can be part of the planning process. Stock your fridge with ingredients for easy and simple lunches and be sure to have easily accessible snacks on hand so that kids can grab them - cheese sticks, yogurt drinks, muffins, energy bites, rice cakes, crackers, baby carrots and baby cucumbers, etc. Just think - how can I limit the “I’m hungry” refrain? Set up snacks and water bottles in the morning and direct your kids to help themselves throughout the day.

5. Enlist your kids to help you with house chores. While our kids have their daily chores, we create extra credit chores to give them an opportunity to make some extra cash. The RoosterMoney app allows your kids to set a goal and put aside money for charity and savings. You can easily keep track of their money on the app and it is win-win from our perspective - it teaches them the value of saving, giving charity, encourages them to help out more and you don’t have to deal with cash. We use it for allowance as well - /

6. Set up your kids for distance learning success. Make sure they each have their designated study space with all of their books and equipment (in some cases this might be a number of stations at one table) - including water, some snacks and anything else they need. Be sure to direct them to additional snacks in the fridge and pantry. The idea is for them to be as independent as possible, so that you can be disturbed as little as possible and be able to focus on your own work or other tasks.

7. Set limits on your kids’ devices so that they can independently manage their screen time. On iPhones/iPads, you can do this with the built-in Screen Time feature, and there are similar tools for Android as well.

8. If you find that you need more uninterrupted time, consider asking a grandparent to spend some online time with your child. We schedule daily meetings with grandparents who read books to our kids, play Scrabble, or just talk. We love the Together App that offers a platform where you can upload books to read, or play games - / While this is a solution that occupies only one kid at a time (or in our case, two kids), it is amazing how taking one or two kids out of the equation can make the house so much calmer!

9. Encourage your kids to pursue interests and hobbies after their distance learning. Our two oldest kids are creating a website to entertain kids during COVID. They are also working on a weekly podcast that they send out to our family. It keeps them busy, strengthens the bond between the two of them, and is quite entertaining!

10. No matter how busy and crazy your day is, make time for yourself! It might seem impossible or unrealistic, but it is essential to your wellbeing and should be non-negotiable. It doesn’t have to be long or luxurious, but it must happen - it could be a short walk alone, a longer shower, locking yourself in your room for a bit, or whatever you need to recharge.

Most importantly, be compassionate with yourself! These are not simple times and you are doing the best you can!

Sending you all lots of chizzuk and positive thoughts. You got this!

* I recognize that these tips do not apply to younger kids or infants who need constant supervision. My best tip in that case would be to alternate shifts with a spouse or an older child (after distance learning hours) so that you can get some productive time in. And of course, take advantage of that golden nap-time! Most of all, lower your standards and be realistic about what you can achieve with little ones at home full time!


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