The quarantine schedule that has FINALLY worked for us!
I have a confession to make. I was one of those people at the beginning of this pandemic that thought there was no way a microscopic parasite was going to be able to compete with 21 centuries of scientific data and technological advancement. Obviously, I was wrong. Still, for me, this meant that I didn’t put too much effort into creating a schedule for my family the first week we chose to self-isolate, because the data can’t be ignored the last time my daughter and I left our home was Thursday, March 12th. I soon realized, about 5 days into isolation, that we needed a schedule to guide our day. With no set rhythm, we were eating breakfast too early, snacking too much, watching more tv than I normally allow and going to sleep too late. So, naturally, I woke up early one morning and created the most efficient, sensical and well thought out schedule I have ever come up with. By 10 am I had already made 3 adjustments and was setting myself up to “run late” for the remainder of the day. Feeling defeated, I got frustrated and basically started crying and gave up.
Then, I had a conversation with my husband. Since this is a post full of confessions, I’ll be honest, he came to me asking how he can help after I basically shut down for a few hours. A little background on my husband, this man has been thrust into leadership roles since he was a very young man. From varsity sports his freshman year of high school to opening and running a successful business he had very little prior experience in, this man knows a thing or two about making last-minute adjustments under pressure. We talked for a long time, and my biggest take away was, the leader’s job is to make a game plan, knowing it’s going to fail in several aspects, but being observant of the team so that the adjustments make sense for your unique dynamic. This might sound basic to some, but my mind was blown! I don’t have to get it right the first time? It’s ok to be a hot mess at the beginning? I’m allowed to say I failed and just make changes? My main job is to just watch? Now after 2 weeks of watching, adjusting and tweaking, I have found the beat that fits my specific team of drummers best.
Below is the schedule that we have finally settled on with some short explanations. This is a suggestion that a family with a preschooler can follow, tweak, use as their jumping-off point or simply glance at:
I have been starting my mornings with a walk. That is not for my daughter, this is for me. I noticed that staying in pajamas during
the day and skipping the portion of my morning that made me “get ready” was having a negative effect on my overall mental health. So, I decided, we start the day by taking a walk. It forces me to change, pick up my hair and brush my teeth. I usually take a thermos of coffee and my daughter will bring some dry cereal or a muffin, then we finish our breakfast when we get home. I feel much more energized to take cooking orders after I have had some quiet exercise time.
This section of our day has a lot of flexibility. My daughter’s school has morning Zoom classes; however, they are not every day and not always at the same time. Still, for the purpose of consistency, I have designated this hour and a half to “learning time”. However, since I have a 4-year-old, I need to make sure it’s dynamic and fun, otherwise it just becomes a fight. When we do exercises I either use “Go Noodle” or “Cosmic Kids” yoga or we dance around to kids’ songs. All of these are free subscriptions through YouTube. When we do a morning lesson I either log onto Scholastic and use their free “school closure” resources or I use the activities her teacher suggested or some of the workbooks we have purchased or some good old fashion Pinterest ideas.
“Free Play” pops up a lot throughout the schedule mostly after I feel we have spent a good amount of time interacting and hanging out. I did this as spread out as possible to create balance. The longer we spent together, the longer the period of “Free Play” after. I know she needs me, so I make sure she doesn’t go too long without me, but I also need me, so there are definitely times I expect her to entertain herself. Understanding that there are developmentally appropriate guidelines for the time a preschooler can be expected to play alone, I do pop in and sit with her for 10-15 minutes after about a 30-minute window. This is not an exact science and I definitely play it by ear and mood. I also added a specific time to play puzzles, blocks, boards games and art because after observing my daughter for a couple of weeks I realized she really only plays dolls or house. Wanting to keep her mind active in other ways I created a time where we take a break from her favorite games to change the pace and play something else. This may not work for everyone; some kids are pretty set in their ways and I strongly believe you need to pick and choose your battles.
My four-year-old does not nap. So, we have some extra time to do an afternoon lesson, which is usually a follow up from the morning’s lesson. During this “Free Play” time I do dedicate more minutes to playing with her. We’ll jump in the pool, take a bike ride, have a tea party or play babies together since that’s her favorite game. Sometimes, she says she wants to play alone and that’s fine with me.
I do my best to save technology time and television time for the end of the day. This is when I need it the most because it’s when I’m the most tired. I also try not to make Tech. and T.V time consecutive to each other because it’s easier to lose track of how much time she’s been on devices. With a break in between, I can control the environment a little better. Does this always work out? Of course not! We just make an effort to do what is best every day and roll with the punches on the days it doesn’t.
Let me end by saying that these are “target times” in our schedule. We are not a well-oiled machine! I can count on one hand the times my daughter has actually gone to bed on time since this period of self-isolation started. However, I start every morning with the best possible intentions, feel out my “ensemble’s” mood and let us dance to the beat of our own drum on that particular day.
These times are different, difficult and draining; but you can decide what soundtrack you play in the background of this chaos. For us, I choose an upbeat, fun and loud song! Beastie Boys? AC/DC? Start changing your rhythm to fit you best.