It’s 9:20 p.m. I just fired up the computer to get to work. I’m home like hopefully thousands of others during the coronavirus lockdown. The get-to-work-at-9-a.m. schedule has shifted to make way for parents who are now working from home, as their kids are required to stay out of school. It’s going to take some creative project management to get through the next few weeks (hopefully not longer), but it’s doable. It could actually be a turning point for people to take a look at priorities, but only time will tell.
So without further adieu, here’s my plan to survive parenting, working and self-quarantining with sanity in the midst of a global pandemic.
- Stay connected with friends via group chats and have social-isolation competitions like best home-cooked meal or most creative activity with kids. It keeps you connected, and you can share ideas and recipes.
- It’s not just about washing your hands. Don’t forget to wash the rest of your body. Do some home mani-pedis with the kids and at-home spa treatments for yourself. Just think, you can do a facial mask while organizing a spreadsheet. But for God’s sake, by day three, get out of your pajamas and into real clothes.
- Since (when) you are getting dressed for the day, go through your closet. Make a pile of things you never wear but can’t seem to part with. If you are working from home, wear them to your home office. By the end of the day you will either be ready to incorporate them into your regular rotation or finally put them in the consignment/donation pile.
- Plant something. If you’re into planting a garden, now’s the time to get on it. If you’re not a gardener, take this time to learn with the kids and plant some seeds in pots to see what will spring up in a few weeks. It’s their job to be sure to water the seeds and dirt until something springs up (got to fill the time somehow).
- Kids are going to get restless. Line up the scooters and bikes. Head outside for fresh air and exercise. Smile when you see other people out getting fresh air. Without some activity, it’s guaranteed mutiny with a high chance of the kids taking over.
- Create your workspace. Whether it’s a bedroom, bonus room or garage, find some space to dedicate time to work. Give the kids their dedicated space, too.
- Speaking of new routines, make one. We all do better with a little structure in our lives especially when juggling children and copious snack times with online meetings and strategy sessions. Sit the kids down and discuss what the day will look like. We may all sleep in a little later, but once the day gets rolling, schedule some learning time, reading time, art time, lunchtime, recess and then digital time.
- And about the digital time. We’re going to need it. Don’t make this the month that you’re going to set strict boundaries on how much time the big kids get to play video games. Luckily many teens are pros at social distancing thanks to online gaming. But when you think their eyes should be bleeding from playing too much Minecraft or Fortnight, have them research how to make doughnuts or build a skate ramp, and give them a new project.
- Create new playlists. Put your 10-year-old to the task of making the best dance playlist ever, then challenge your 12-year-old to top that playlist. Then have a killer dance party after dinner, or before dinner or whenever you need it because dancing is good for the soul.
When you have a minute of downtime, research and test drive all the new cocktails you’ll share with your friends when all of this passes. Better yet, log back on with your friends via video chat and toast each other for one more day.
Michele Huggins is an editor and content creator who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, two sons and a boy border collie. (She really wants a girl cat.)