Just wanted to say that first.
Before I started Princess Awesome I was a teacher. I taught middle school for two years and 3rd grade for eight years. Since I left the classroom five years ago, I’ve been a work-at-home mom, and we’ve built Princess Awesome around the fact that our kids are part of our lives and often here while we’re working. The first phone interview I did with our VP of Marketing, Kerstin, her then 1-year-old daughter was home half-naked getting over a bad diaper rash. So, you know, we’ve got some experience with all the things.
If you end up in the position of having your kids’ school closed for an extended period of time, coupled with either quarantine and/or social distancing and possibly ALSO being expected to get some actual work done for your job, I have a few ideas on how you might structure your time. I thought I’d share them in case they’re useful for you.*
One of the first things I learned on my journey to becoming a teacher was that kids do better when they know what’s coming, how long they have to do something, and they can see a clock. Grown-ups are the same way; just imagine being in a spin class and having no idea how long you have to stay on that bike or how long you’re already been at it.
Make an agenda for the day. Write it down and hang it up somewhere where the kids can see it. Even if you change it as the day goes, it’ll give the kids structure and keep them from asking you “what are we doing next?/when can i watch tv?/how long do i have to do this?”
I would suggest indicating when a parent will be participating and when kids are expected to occupy themselves.
You can totally use the same agenda for multiple days. In fact, if you can get into a rhythm, that’ll make it easier for the kids to follow the routine each day.
Here’s a sample agenda for the day: (I have three kids - ages 9, 7, and 2.5, just FYI)
8:30am - Wake up, brush teeth, breakfast, get dressed
9:00 - Play in the Playroom with Little Brother [Mommy & Daddy do work]
9:45 - Work time at the table with Mommy
10:30 - Dance party break - whole family
10:45 - Reading [Mommy & Daddy do work]
11:30 - Lunch 12:00 - Screen Time [Little Brother naps] [Mommy & Daddy do work]
1:00 - Quiet independent play time until Little Brother wakes up [Mommy & Daddy do work]
1:30 - Play in Backyard with Little Brother [Mommy & Daddy do work]
2:15 - Snack
2:30 - Work time at the table with Daddy
3:15 - Family Project time
4:15 - Snack
4:30 - Play time with Little Brother
5:30 - Dinner
7:00 - Little Brother bed time, Movie Night
9:00 - Bed time
One of the reasons I want to build screen time into my daily schedule is that one of my kids is particularly eager for screen time and asks about it constantly. He really is fine doing other activities, but if he doesn’t have guidelines around when he will get screen time, it’s very hard for him. If I just had my daughter, I might not need to do that.
What do you know about your kids? Can they sit for a long time? Do they prefer to get totally engrossed in an activity and do it for hours? Keep your expectations for a schedule in line with what you know about your own children.
You can also use this time to focus on particular things that you know your kids need some extra help/support with. My kids’ school doesn’t teach cursive, for example. I bought my daughter a cursive book last summer, but we just don’t have time/bandwidth to work on it normally. If we’re home - she’s going to learn cursive!
No shame. No judgement. If you’ve got to get something done or need a break or a nap or whatever - if you’ve got a screen, use it. We’re living in unprecedented times. I just hope Netflix is building up its server capabilities.
Those are my three main points to get you going on a journey that is unlike anything most of us have really known before. We’ve also compiled an idea of activities, projects, and resources from us and suggested by the Princess Awesome/Boy Wonder community on this Google doc.
Please check it out! Stay safe and healthy, friends. We’re here for you. Now, go wash your hands!
*If they're not useful for you, IGNORE, please! :)
*Also, we fully recognize that all of this assumes you have the luxury to be able to do your work from home and are not scrambling to figure out childcare if/when school is out. For those of you in that situation, we are thinking about you and hoping you're able to figure things out in a way that will work for your family.