Corona-Momming Tip #2: Create schedules with screen time and “specials” built in

Many of us with elementary-aged kids are fretting about the amount of work school is sending home. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to take more than an hour or two. So what will we do with our kids for the rest of the day? How will we get any of our own work done?

My kids love their “specials” at school, so my husband and I decided to set the kids daily schedules which, in addition to academic time for schoolwork, include our own version of “specials.” I like to sing and read, so I’m the music teacher and librarian. My husband likes sports and science and is a halfway decent artist, so he’s the gym, STEM, and art teacher.

I should note that we are not planning elaborate lessons. My first music lesson on Monday will involve me and the kids singing into their karaoke microphones (probably mostly Imagine Dragons songs, to my dismay). Gym will be my husband and the kids throwing a football around in the backyard or something else designed to get the kids outside for a little while. I’m sure STEM will include some sort of baking powder-fueled explosion. Each of us plans to carry out our “lessons” while the other one is working. We also hope that it will free up some time for each of us to engage in self-care (exercising, etc.)

And of course, there will be screens. Many screens. But we are letting the kids know exactly when to expect the screen time…which means that hopefully they won’t fight us for screens at other times (and we can count on their scheduled screen time as free time to get some work done).

A schedule with “specials” and screen time built in serves lots of purposes:

  • Gives everyone in your family a sense of predictability and control, which is so important for anxiety reduction
  • Lets you know when you’ll have time to work and attend to self-care. And if you’re married or cohabitating, allows you and your partner to protect your own time to work/attend to self-care
  • Ensures that your kids have a variety of different activities planned, which optimally will reduce boredom and bickering

Make sure you review the next day’s schedule with your kids at bedtime. That way they’ll know exactly what their responsibilities will be, and when they’ll be able to watch many hours of Patrick Mahomes clips on YouTube.

We start implementing our schedule on Monday, so I don’t know exactly how it will pan out for us. Needless to say, I’ll be posting about it. And I’d love to hear about your schedules for your kids!

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I’m Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco, Ph.D., aka DrCBTMom. combines the expert advice of a self-help book with the warmth and readability of a mommy blog.
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