Are you looking for the best practices for parenting during quarantine? You’ve come to the right place. I’ve consolidated all the diverse advice being given to parents and caregivers.
As a mom of 5 who is very interested in doing the best for her children, I’ve conducted extensive research into best practices with kids at home during this difficult time. I’ve consolidated my research here to assist other parents in best practices for parenting during quarantine. These are great parenting tips for toddlers, preschoolers, grade schoolers, and teenagers.
Below, I share the most up-to-date and relevant recommendations on a variety of topics related to parenting during quarantine and social distancing. I provide distance learning tips and working from home tips, as well as tips for managing screen time for kids.
I hope this information is as helpful and clear to you as it has become to me. Godspeed.
This guide to parenting in the time of quarantine contains affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own. That means I earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, but doesn’t change your price.
First and foremost, make sure you keep the kids home at all times. Except for when you need to get them out. Getting them out is good for their mental and physical health, so be sure to get them out each day. Except make sure you stay home, and definitely do not take children with you anywhere you go. But make sure you get them outside for long periods of time each day for their mental and physical health.
Because this is a weird time, it’s okay to rely on a bit more screen time. Just remember that screen time can be difficult on children. Too much screen time can cause behavior issues and drain creativity. But screens can be a lifesaver during this time, so don’t worry about too much screen time. If you’re working, especially, don’t be afraid to use screens – this is just a phase. But make sure you don’t let your kids become dependent on screens, because it will be difficult to wean them off of screens. And you won’t make the most of this time if they just watch screens. So make sure you reduce screen time. Except when they need to watch screens.
It will make your life much easier if each of your children has her or his own screen to do their schoolwork. But young children really should not have their own personal electronic device, so don’t give them their own screens. Except for when they need their own screens for their schoolwork, in which case you should definitely give them their own screens.
Remember that this can be a time of connection and can be really special for family bonding, and screens often take away from that. But screens can also be a really fun resource for family bonding! You can watch drawing tutorials, or watch a science video, or even take a virtual trip. Those can all be wonderful ways to connect with your children. Just make sure that you don’t use screens to do them, even though all of these activities are on screens. Find ways to connect other than screens, but be sure you also use all of the wonderful resources available on screens during this time.
Also, remember that screens will affect your kids’ development for years. So avoid screens, except for all of those million times when you have to use screens. And remember that all screen time isn’t bad, but just make sure you avoid too much screen time, even of the good kind.
Speaking of screens, make sure they have access to screens for their schoolwork. Be sure your children remember to get on any school calls so they can stay connected with their class and assignments. Put them on your calendar so you don’t forget. But don’t worry if you do forget. Kids learn so much outside the classroom and teachers understand that this is a unique time. Except when they really need your child to be on the call to get all the assignments for the day. Remember how they have to complete the assignments for the day? But don’t worry if they can’t complete the assignments for the day. Just make sure that they do complete the assignments for the day.
Foster independence by ensuring your children can log onto their devices on their own whenever they need. Just make sure you don’t leave them unattended with electronics because they can encounter all kinds of inappropriate images and messages online. But make sure they’re taking responsibility for their own schoolwork and completing it independently.
Make sure they’re not just staring at a screen all day for their schoolwork. Homeschooling takes much less time than being in a classroom, so they should really not need to be on a screen for very long. Except for the 15th Zoom call of the day, definitely make sure they get on for each of those. And also for all of their assignments that are on a screen. Just don’t use screens too much.
Oh, and also make sure they complete all of their online learning assignments on time so they don’t fall behind. Screens are such a valuable resource for schoolwork, and isn’t it amazing they can do so much online? Just make sure they’re not online or on their screens too much because again, too much screen time is not good for their brains. But doing the assignments on the screens IS good for their brains, so make sure they get them done.
Remember that you’re the parent and you can decide what parts of e-learning work for your family and which parts to leave behind. Just don’t leave behind any of the things the teacher tells you to do, because they have to complete all the required assignments. But don’t worry about the assignments, just focus on reading to your child. Just make sure that they get all their assignments done first thing before you sit and read to your child. But remember, reading is the most important thing you can do for your child. There are even celebrities reading books to children! Just make sure you don’t spend too much time on screens.
Remember that this time is difficult for your kids, so don’t push them to do too much school work. But make sure they do their schoolwork, otherwise they’ll fall behind. Many students are at risk of falling behind, so make sure to stay on top of their work. But don’t stress about their work, because they won’t fall behind during this short time. So make sure you help them in keeping track of their work.
But let them take responsibility for their own work and let them learn to keep track of it on their own, because otherwise they will become irresponsible. Just be sure they don’t stress out about it. Except for the important assignments, in which case they should put forth their best effort. The important subjects are things like math, science, reading, history, art, music, writing, coloring, engineering, play, PE, and technology. Don’t worry about the rest. Except make sure they’re still getting a well-rounded education that doesn’t just focus on academics. But don’t disregard the academics.
Be sure to read to your child frequently. Read lots and lots of diverse books, and don’t read them on screens because it’s not the same and remember how screens rot children’s brains? Except for when you have to use screens because all the libraries are closed. Then it’s okay to use screens for books, except be aware that they will still rot your children’s brains.
Make sure you have a wide variety of books because they spark interest and curiosity. But also read the same book over and over because it’s good for brain development. Just don’t read either of them on screens.
There’s no need to be wasteful and buy a bunch of new books; just borrow the books instead. Except don’t borrow books because books have germs if you’re in an outbreak hotspot. Just don’t buy new books because that’s wasteful. You can’t read too many books so just read the entire day long. Except for when you have all the required school assignments and cooking and cleaning and toileting, etc. etc. etc. It’s okay to take a break and do something fun and play outside. Except don’t go outside with children ever. Just stay inside and read books. And make sure to go outside and get fresh air. And do the school assignments.
Take advantage of this time to include some art education. But don’t stress about doing extra education. This is a weird time so you don’t need to do extra teaching. And this is a great opportunity for them to be creative and have lots of free play. This time is a gift so make sure you use it to do some extra teaching. Don’t just waste this time and miss an opportunity to do some creative learning. Just don’t stress about including extra learning because this is a hard time.
There is also an abundance of resources available for read alouds, drawing tutorials, crafts, games, homeschooling ideas, and more. Take advantage of them, because this is likely the only time in your life when your schedule is free enough to do all those fun activities! But remember, this is a unique time and you shouldn’t try to schedule too much or add in new activities during this time.
Be sure to focus on self-care during this time. It’s very important to take care of yourself so you have the reserves to care for your children. So make sure to always put your needs first. Unless you have very small children whose needs must come first.
As part of your self-care, be sure to stay connected with your spouse or significant other. At home date nights are a perfect solution! But don’t neglect yourself. Or your children. But make sure to make time for your partner while you’re also adding in homeschool, work from home, housework, etc.
Be sure to do things to keep yourself sane and happy, like taking a long bath or reading a book in silence or going on a walk. You’re home all day long, so you should have plenty of time for these activities. Your children can be left alone for a while. Just don’t leave them alone or unattended. Make sure you do these things for yourself each and every day, and do them first to make sure they get done. Your children will be happier when you prioritize yourself, and their needs can wait.
So care for yourself first, except for when your kids have very urgent, pressing needs, such as if your child needs to eat, sleep, has injured a sibling, has been injured by a sibling, has colored on walls and/or furniture, has lit something on fire, has eaten a plant, has a question about monsters, wants to answer the question you didn’t have about monsters, must read a book right that second, wants to tell you about Harry Potter for the 17th time, figured out how to stack chairs to reach the knife drawer, is about to run into the street, has dumped out an entire bag of flour, or needs to poop.
But in all other cases, care for yourself first. Unless it’s something else that’s similarly urgent, or maybe something that isn’t urgent but your 2 year old thinks that it is, AKA EVERYTHING.
Your eating habits may be a bit off during this time, and that’s okay. Just make sure you’re still incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables and have family meals. Make sure your kids eat nutritiously, too, or their behavior will suffer. And make sure they’re all really fresh because it’s best to eat things that were just picked 10 seconds ago, but make sure you don’t go to the store to get them. So really just rely on frozen fruits and vegetables during this time because they last longer. Just make sure you’re also eating lots of fresh things, because they are healthiest and we all need to do our best to boost our immune systems right now.
Don’t worry if your child won’t eat certain vegetables. Just keep offering them until they eat them. Unless, of course, they won’t eat them. Just keep purchasing them and preparing them and offering them. Just don’t go to the store to purchase them. Buy everything online so you don’t have to go to the store. Except for when there are zero delivery windows. Then you can go to the store. Just make sure you don’t go to the store. But if you do go to the store, buy frozen foods that will last longer. Just make sure your children are eating fresh foods.
Oh, and when you purchase food, don’t hoard it. But food is being tossed out, so make sure you support farmers by purchasing food. But don’t go to the store to purchase food, and don’t purchase too much. And only buy essential items, ones that will last a long time. But also buy fresh things that won’t last a long time.
Treats & Bribes
It’s okay to give your kids occasional treats, especially during this time. An afternoon treat can be really motivating, too. Just make sure you don’t use treats as bribes, because then your kids will have issues with food for the rest of their lives. But treats can be really motivating for some kids so use them in moderation. Just be sure to not directly connect the food to the behavior because that’s dangerous. And make sure your kids don’t eat much sugar because sugar will make them hyper and they will have difficulty focusing on their schoolwork. But it’s okay to be a little more lax during this time and let them have some more treats. Just not treats.
Chores may fall by the wayside a bit during this time. That’s okay! You do you and don’t worry so much about the housework. But quarantine is a great time to teach your kids about cleaning and housework! Make sure they clean up after themselves at every turn. But just make sure you’re not worrying about it too much, or they’ll feel stressed about it. Just make sure they still do it, so they can become independent during this time. But don’t hound them or watch over them. Just expect them to do it on their own so you don’t stress them out by hovering or nagging. And make sure you’re disinfecting everything so you don’t get sick, but don’t worry about the cleaning.
Make sure that they remember all on their own and do a great job so they can take pride in their work, but definitely don’t do it with them because you shouldn’t worry about all the housework during this time. And most definitely don’t yell at them to do it because that will scar them for life, and also it’s not that important. Just make sure they know it’s important to clean up after themselves and keep a tidy house and remember all on their own because otherwise the house will be in shambles. But don’t worry if the house is in shambles.
Also, make sure you use this time while you’re stuck at home to teach your children some new skills! Cooking, cleaning, and learning a new instrument are some great options. But don’t increase stress by adding in a bunch of new expectations and things to learn during this time. This is a time to not pressure your kids. It’s hard for them, too! So make sure you don’t expect too much of them. But it’s a perfect time for your kids to practice some new skills because you’re stuck at home.
Be sure to create a homeschool schedule for each day because kids thrive on structure. Just be sure your schedule isn’t too strict because you don’t need as much time to accomplish what they would in school. Except it takes much longer to figure out the assignments at home, but they shouldn’t take longer at home. Just make sure you still get all their assignments done. But they can do them whenever they want during the day, as long as they do them at a certain time during the day. And make sure each day is the same, even if you’re unsure what day it actually is.
Make sure they have plenty of time to play and be outside. Just don’t go outside.
Don’t be too rigid with your timeline each day, but make sure you fit in schoolwork, picture book read alouds, chapter book read alouds, music practice, art lessons, drawing tutorials, outside play, inside play, crafts, household chores, learning NEW household chores, taking at least 3 walks, science projects, learning to manage money, service to neighbors, and sibling bonding. Just don’t do it on a schedule because then your kids will feel stressed. But make sure you have enough structure to get it all in, and because kids love schedules because they know what to expect.
Oh, and make sure you definitely schedule plenty of one-on-one time with your kids. You’ll have plenty of opportunities with everyone at home. Just don’t neglect all the other things you have to do while at home, like homeschooling your children so they don’t fall behind.
Working from Home
This is a special time, so everyone you work with should be more understanding. Don’t expect a formal reduction in workload, though – probably just more flexibility. So you can work whenever you want, which includes whenever you are not taking care of children, especially late into the night. The hours when children are sleeping can be the best time to be productive with your work. But don’t stay up late working – you need more physical and emotional stamina now more than ever, so make sure you get a good night’s rest.
One of the best tips for working from home is to set boundaries in your at-home working arrangements, including physical boundaries, like only working in one part of the house. But working from the same place for an entire day can be bad for your creativity and mental health, so get up and work from different places around the house. It’s okay to work from home while you are helping your kids with their schoolwork or chores. Just don’t be distracted or look at screens while with your kids. It’s important to focus on your kids while with them. Just make sure you get your work done. Just not late at night, because you need your rest. And don’t be frazzled, because this should be a joyful time. Just make sure to focus on your kids. And your work. Just not at the same time. And not late at night.
It’s good for your mental health and gives a visual clue to your children for when you are working. But don’t worry too much about how you dress, since this is a special time and your meetings are virtual. But that doesn’t mean that this is some worldwide pajama party; you should continue to show respect for yourself and your teammates by dressing for success.
If you are on a work call, try to keep your children out of the room so you can focus. But don’t insist they stay out of the room as they may already be feeling emotionally sensitive due to school closures. If having children in the room makes your calls take longer, that’s okay and your workmates will understand. But everyone is dealing with new time pressures, so try to keep your calls shorter than normal.
Always mute yourself during your meetings. You may want to keep yourself unmuted, though, so you don’t miss your chance to speak up during these now-shorter meetings. But keep yourself muted unless you are speaking so your home noise doesn’t carry through. Just don’t miss your chance to speak because you were muted.
Just make sure you can’t smell your kid from 10 feet away and that s/he has changed clothes at least once in the last week, except pajamas, since everyone knows they don’t get dirty. Then you’re good. We can all agree on that.
Thanks for reading, and happy quarantine!
Preethi, a corona-schooling, curiosity-inspiring, connection-building, world-loving mom of 5 who has absolutely been guilty of recommending many of these incongruities, and who implores you to not take these comments too seriously
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