Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced authorities to close public meeting places nationwide, many of our houses are doing triple-duty as homes, offices and schools. Unfortunately, most of us didn’t exactly design our homes with those functions in mind, which has been especially challenging for the parents working from home this month. How are you supposed to work when your kids need attention and you can't call a babysitter to come help? How can your kids keep up with their studies when you’re busy with work? And how can you keep everyone from going stir-crazy from being stuck in the house?

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. To help you manage the chaos (at least a little bit), we’ve put together a list of experts’ advice. Check out their recommendations below.

Give them homework

If your kids are school-age, they may have been given homework to do remotely during the school closure. If not, companies like Khan Academy and Scholastic are offering free online learning courses, CNN reports, which can help fill in the gap. But no matter what kind of homework they’re doing, The Wirecutter recommends sticking to a regular schedule to keep them in “school mode.” Following a routine gives structure to their days and helps keep them on track for when they eventually return to school. You can also keep them busy with housework, just make it fun by trying out some of these cleaning activities!

From to Sesame Street to The KIDZPage and everything in between, Swing Education’s list of 20 Online Learning Resources can help you and your kids get through the Coronavirus.

DIY extracurriculars

With after-school activities also on hiatus, what can you do to keep your kids occupied in the afternoons? However tempting it may be, try not to fill the time with playdates. As NPR points out, the whole point of school closures is to limit social interaction, so suggest the kids play games together online instead. If you generally set screen time limits for your kids, consider loosening them for older kids so they can chat or FaceTime with each other. The social interaction will help them feel less isolated while they’re stuck at home.

For younger kids, YouTube offers lots of age-appropriate tutorials on everything from yoga to face-painting to singing. You can crowdsource art activity ideas with other parents or turn to Pinterest for fresh inspiration. Recess is an important part of the day, too, so try building an obstacle course in the living room (or in the yard, weather permitting) to help them blow off some steam. 

Common Sense Media lists 25 entertaining, informative and kid-friendly podcasts that are great for bedtime, road trips and more (including ones for little kids and others for tweens and teens). Best part? They’re screen free.

Spring break

If your kid’s school has assigned remote homework during the school closure but is observing a work-free period for spring break, you may need to get extra creative. Are there any big chores you’ve been putting off that an older kid could handle? Maybe there’s a shed to be reorganized or a closet to clear out that could keep them occupied. If your older kids were hoping for a week at the beach this year, acknowledge their disappointment and make plans for a rescheduled break when the crisis has passed. The same idea can be used for the holiday season as well, and lucky for you we've created plenty of downloadable activities to keep them entertained all winter long.

Manage boredom

No matter how carefully you plan, eventually, everyone will get bored. Now is the time to pull out all the stops: Invest in some new puzzles and games, order some books online or build a “busy box,” suggests Business Insider. Teach little kids that it’s okay to be bored and let them find things to do on their own. You may be surprised how creative they get.

Build a “busy box” with things like puzzles, MadLibs, coloring books and quiet toys. If kids are restless, have them pick an activity to help them stay engaged.

Get your own work done

So now you’ve got a schedule for the kids, but what about you? With kids in the house, peace and quiet can be hard to come by, so take advantage of whatever opportunities you get. If your kids are little, try getting your most important work done during naptime, The Wirecutter recommends. Otherwise, try shifting some of your workload until after the kids go to bed.

For older kids, establishing clear boundaries and giving them a schedule to follow may be enough to buy you some time to work. If your home workspace has a door, keep it closed when possible or consider hanging a “no interruptions” sign during your most important meetings. 

But even with all these guidelines in place, you still may not be able to accomplish as much as you did in the office—and that’s okay. Just be honest with yourself and your colleagues about what you can and can’t complete under these circumstances, NPR recommends. Instead of trying to burn the candle at both ends, have a candid discussion with your manager about their biggest priorities, and make a plan to tackle the most important ones. 

Ultimately, this time will be a challenge for everyone, so try to set realistic expectations for yourself. If the kids watch a little more TV than usual, they will not be permanently damaged. The important thing is that we all do our best to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

Hippo Insurance Services cares about you and your home. We do not claim to be experts on the Coronavirus but want to provide you with a resource to guide you, your family and your home through this difficult time. If you have questions, please use credible resources such as the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) to find answers. If you think you or a loved one is sick, please quarantine yourselves and call your doctor, or call 911 in an emergency.

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