Parenting with a Plan: Homebound Edition

On Thursday, March 26th, Dr. Ann-Louise Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP, of A New Day Pediatric Psychology discussed parenting under the new shelter-in-place order.

With the current global health crisis, your work may have been suspended or switched to flexible work arrangements. Local stores are closed to avoid crowds. Your favorite restaurant is only allowing for carryout orders. The most common is that school is out, temporarily (for some) or the rest of the semester (for others).

Let me guess. Your house is now full of restless and easily bored children and a parent or maybe a set of parents who are struggling to juggle a full work schedule and full mom/dad schedule.

So, the question is, how are you REALLY doing as a parent these days? Don’t worry, you are not alone. We’re all on the same boat, worldwide. This is tough. There’s no denying that.

Here are a few tips and strategies to help ease the load in the next few weeks or months:

    1. Take a breath. Give yourself grace and patience. You don’t need to be a teacher substitute for your child if you are not typically a homeschooling parent. It is unrealistic to expect to spend 6-8 hours a day of school instruction. Don’t stress yourself doing so. Don’t worry about your child falling behind in school. Loosen the need to have things exactly the way you want. It’s okay to let some of it go. Give yourself a break and take a breath. It will all eventually get done. 
  • Expect to spend less time during the day on school instruction.
    1. Expect to spend 2-3 hours per day of school instruction and learning. 
    2. Pay attention to the peak times of learning for your children. For most kids, it is the morning. For teenagers, it tends to be a little later. Regarding peak performance and motivation, mid-morning is best overall. The more challenging, difficult and hard-to-start tasks should be in the morning hours and the easier tasks should be in the afternoon.
    3. Create a schedule. Having a schedule is very important. You need it to function in your day. Kids need structure and boundaries. If your kids do better with a more structured schedule, then create one. If they do better with more unstructured time, then do that instead. Whatever works for you and your child, do that. Do this schedule collaboratively with your child.
  1. Schedule must-haves:
    1. Wake-up time. It’s okay if this is up to one hour later than typical.
    2. Breakfast time. Start the day off right with a nutritional breakfast. Create a menu with your child so they know what to expect.
    3. Instruction: 1 hour (about 9 am) of academic/school instruction in the morning is a great way to start up the learning engine. At this time, focus on no more than two subject areas. 
    4. Instruction: 1.5 hours (mid-afternoon, before 3:00 pm). You can integrate online educational games, instructions, or videos during this time. Our energy and motivation tend to dip around 3:00 pm, so engage your child before this time. 
    5. Other Important Considerations: Lunch, Snacks, Quiet Time, Creative Time, Outside Time, Rest/Nap, Virtual Social Time, TV/Screen Time, Family Time (game nights, movie nights) should all be included and considered in your structured or unstructured schedule.
    6. Bedtime. It’s okay to delay bedtime up until one hour later than normal.

I hope these tips help you. This is a challenging time. You will get through this and so will your kids.

Hear more from me and the team in the coming weeks for more parenting tips.

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My Team and I wish you the very best!