staying sane when locked in the house with your kids

By: Eric Rosenberg

School Closed? Here's What to Do With Your Kids.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is here, and it's having a huge impact on people around the world. If you're a parent in the United States, you're probably preparing for—or already in the midst of—a school closure slated for weeks or longer.

Though some of your children, depending on their age, may be busy with remote learning during weekdays, you'll still be seeing a whole lot more of them on a daily basis. Follow these tips to stay sane with your kids at home for an extended, unplanned break.

Keep Younger Kids Busy With Fun Games and Activities

If you have younger kids at home, get ready for a lot of playtime. This is a great opportunity for art projects, science projects and creative games. Let their imaginations run wild! Think tissue-box monsters, baking-soda volcanos, an indoor scavenger hunt, paper-plane distance competitions and much more. Of course, don't forget the classics like hide and seek and tag. And if cabin fever is making them crazy, remember it's less than 16 hours until bedtime.

For more ideas, check out parenting blogs, Pinterest boards, free online homeschool curriculums, activity books, YouTube videos and other digital resources for inspiration. Don't be afraid to get messy, act silly and turn every day into a new adventure for you and your kids.

Screen Time Is Okay—With Limitations

Older kids will probably ask to take a smartphone, tablet or laptop and self-quarantine in their bedrooms with their best friend: the internet. That might sound easy for you, but it's not necessarily healthy for your child.

Instead of unmonitored internet time, set boundaries. There are great smartphone apps available that can help you enforce limits: for example, look into setting a number of hours per day for specific devices or block unsavory websites and apps. Consider giving your kids fun tasks, like choosing and cooking a family dinner from a recipe they find online.

Social media time is probably a good idea for many people, including older kids wanting to stay in touch with friends and extended relatives. But when they're too consumed with pixels, consider taking the phone away and giving them a physical book to read; encourage them to join in on family movie nights and socialize with you, even if you're “the worst parent in the world" for making them do it.

Set Your Own Boundaries

Millions of workers are headed home with their laptops for the first time. If you're planning to work at home with kids, it's a good idea to set boundaries and rules around your workspace and work schedule.

Kids need to know when you are “at work" and when you're not. Try to keep work to a home office or other designated area of your home. If you don't have enough rooms to stay away from the kids, noise-canceling headphones and a favorite playlist may prove essential.

Teach your kids that work-time interruptions should only be for emergencies. Try to set your kids up with activities or shows during work hours, so you can completely unplug once you're done for the day.

It's Still Okay to Get Some Fresh Air

We may all be avoiding airplanes, concerts and restaurants, but that doesn't mean you're locked inside your home. Even without sporting events and other gatherings, there are a few ways to still get out and enjoy yourself during the coronavirus lockdown.

  • Go on a walk: Walk around the neighborhood or to a local park. Just avoid the playgrounds that could be covered in germs and keep six feet of distance between you and others.
  • Go on a bike ride: Get a little farther from home and exercise at the same time with a family bike ride.

Enjoy Enforced Family Time

Countries around Europe and Latin America often have generous vacation and holiday policies that are enough to make Americans jealous. While we are not on a month-long paid vacation, it's a great time to enjoy your kids and family in a way we don't normally get.

Before you know it, those kids will be back in school and you'll be back at work. Then they will go off to college or other life adventures. No matter how long you have before you're an empty nester, enjoy this time together with your family. We may never see anything like it again.

Eric Rosenberg is a freelance writer specializing in finance and investing. His writing work has appeared in Business Insider, Investopedia, Huffington Post, and many other outlets. Rosenberg also consults about financial management and small business solutions.