Welcome to Finding Peace in Pandemic Parenting. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist reflecting on a week of overwhelm, quarantine, transitioning to virtual psychiatry, college students returning home, kids without school, elderly parents and high risk connections, the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 and much more, this idea came to be. It is in collaboration with folks from around the world who share expertise in psychology, parenting, education… maintaining peace in the face of challenge. With this current crisis I wondered about who are my connections and how can they help. A long-term friend, Roxy, came to mind from my childhood. Recently furloughed from a retail job with time on her hands, I realized our collaboration could draw on her training as an electrical engineer and her many years of experience homeschooling her own children as well as serving on her state’s homeschooling association board of directors. We plan to post regularly in a free and accessible format to as many as we can reach. Each of you is an expert in your own unique ways and we welcome your sharing.
Maria, Roxy and……… you
Structure and routine are important to everyone’s life and even more so when things feel uncertain in the world. Sit down with those you are living with and ask how each person thinks it would be best to structure the day. This could be done daily at breakfast or weekly with a calendar like the one Roxy created below. The schedule should include the same wake up and bedtime daily (9 hours for school aged kids), regular meals, work/learning time, time for exercise, household chore time, breaks from screens (we suggest the 20-20-20 rule: 20 seconds looking 20’ away every 20 minutes), social time with others living outside the home (phone or video), social time with those you are living with, time alone, and time for creativity (ex: play/ art/ music/ hobbies, etc). Try to stick with the schedule you have planned together and reevaluate how well it is going as needed. For children and teens as well as many adults, posting a printed calendar in a central location can be quite helpful.
Here’s a sample schedule with a middle school student focus. Each family customizes their schedule based on their children’s needs and the needs of the family as a whole. When the student is doing schoolwork at home, the time guidelines can have flexibility to them, allowing the student to come to natural break points before changing to the next school subject. The clock is a good general guideline, but the student can have the luxury of finishing a line of thought instead of having to drop everything when the bell rings on the hour. The family could have a discussion about the structure of the free time periods. Some suggestions for free time are play, social time, exercise, family fun time, reading, music, art, chores, alone time and hobbies.
7:00 Wake up
8:00 Breakfast, make bed, review lesson plans
9:00 Writing, Grammar, Spelling
2:30 Free time
7:00 Free time
9:00 Stop using blue light electronic devices
During this time of teaching your children at home, we’d like to encourage you with this: no one loves your children as much as you do. Love them, listen to them, and work together in finding what schedule and what material is best for each child. Some trial and error at the beginning is normal. Practice patience with each other as you adjust to schooling at home. Let love and patience help your relationship with your child grow in new ways as you explore schooling at home together.