What to do when your family is stuck at home (for a really freakin’ long time)

TL; DR ~ Scroll down (below the graphic) to grab your free activities cheat sheet and follow the 5 steps to plan (or triage) your current schedule. Then, go to this post to grab your free guide and worksheets to build your own custom family quarantine schedule. xo

It’s March, so why aren’t we out of our winter hibernation yet?

Oh, right, the global virus issue that has so many of us retreating.

I didn’t plan to talk about this specifically, but I’m doing it anyway …

I tend to get a little bit worried about these things, but I’m not one to panic.

Fun Fact: I was one of the earliest patients in 2006 when the E.coli spinach outbreak hit.

Remember that? I tried to make ONE salad.

Healthy eating, my a$$.

They didn’t even know I had E.coli when I got admitted to the hospital Labor Day weekend of my senior year in college.

Thankfully, I was OK (took 10 days), but I know that others didn’t fare so well.

Which is exactly why we’re doing our part to “social distance” without any complaints these days.

It’s not about me … it’s about everyone else who isn’t going to fare so well if they catch this awful virus.

So we’re taking precautions to isolate as much as possible.

Which means we’re all gonna be cooped up for a little longer after an already looooong winter.

As of the time of this post, our kid’s daycare/preschool remains open.

But we’re in Seattle and school districts everywhere have shut down until April freaking 24th (probably until the end of the school year).

I know we’re all so ready for spring and summer. Ready to get out and enjoy the world.

But for now, we’re keeping our radius small and our Lysol wipes close.

Given everything that’s been happening, I’ve been building a strategy for what might happen should my kids be sent home for an “extended stay” at La Casa de Work-From-Home (UPDATE: Everyone is home as of 3/18/2020 … here we go).

Normally, I’d just use these ideas on a small scale to guide a rainy weekend.

But surviving 2 rainy days without doubling up on a full-time job isn’t really that hard.

This situation is unique and desperate times call for proactive (and insanely creative) measures.

So here’s my process for keeping everyone happy and productive amidst a winter hibernation, viral pandemic quarantine, or just an unexpectedly long traditional kiddo sickness.

STEP 1: Time blocking never looked so good.

This is not an exaggeration. If you’re trying to work a full-time job from home AND care for kids, you will lose your ever-loving mind without a rock solid time block plan.

Just last week, I wrote a getting started with time blocking post, so go check it out when you’re ready. More recently, I created a free guide to build your own custom time block schedule.

When you’re building the time block plan to include kids, think in terms of their standard school schedule. Keep meals and outdoor activities aligned. Depending on age, create blocks that coincide with different subjects. Weekly & daily themes are always a good idea.

A fun trick I’ll be using to keep us on pace throughout the day is setting colored light programs to coincide with each time block using one of our Hatch Rest devices (we have 3, one in each bedroom, ’cause they’re that good). The visual cue will definitely keep us on pace and the kids will request less deviation when they know pink = music time.

NOTE – Some schools are offering e-learning, which will inform a portion of your schedule. Refer to local school district announcements for information. A local home school group is also offering tons of advice and helpful lessons online. The community WILL come out in big ways to support everyone – look out for these opportunities and offer them if you’re able!

STEP 2: Set clear & realistic expectations with your employer.

As soon as our Governor in the State of Washington announced restrictions and our school district announced a potential 4-6 week closure, I contacted my manager in my day job.

It’s important to remember that this is a global issue and your employer will be understanding. In fact, they might already be setting the expectations for you.

BONUS – Don’t already work from home or have flexibility?? This is literally the best opportunity you’ll ever have to prove you’re capable of working from home without actually having to make a big effort to convince your employer.

No, you likely won’t be able to work at peak productivity with your kids at home. But treat this as an opportunity to “interview” for more work flexibility by being super transparent, in regular communication with your team members, and setting clear and realistic deadlines to whatever you’re working on (and meet them). Get creative and own it!

NOTE – If you’re unable to work from home due to the nature of your position, don’t wait any longer to research what happens if your kids get sent home for an extended period. Whether your options are a leave of absence, or finding backup care, you should begin planning now. Your community and circle of neighbors and friends will stand up to help (in small groups). Lean on them with social distancing rules in mind (what a world we live in …)!

STEP 3: Get your home in order.

Do a quick swirl of toys and shove half of them in the garage or closets. YOU WILL NEED VARIETY each week.

Get the laundry done & put it all away.

Double check diapers, food, water, paper products, soap and cleaning supplies. Acquire what you don’t already have on hand or what you might be running low on today. Limit exposure (and save time) by using curbside grocery pickup or Amazon Prime.

Clean water bottles and ensure everyone has a steady stream of water. Add lemon for additional detox support (#notadoctor). This is always a great habit to adopt, regardless of health status.

Take an extra pass around the house for any preventative measures. The kids might get extra curious with all the extra time at home, so you don’t want them digging into the china cabinet that they’ve never noticed before (noting for a friend).

STEP 4: Keep a list of activities so you’re never at a loss for ideas.

Maybe you already have a list of rainy day ideas, but this is where I’m sure I can swing in to help.

I’ve made an epic list of at-home activity ideas that you can grab right now.

Just below the graphic above, enter your info, then go check your inbox and download from the link in the e-mail.

You’ll find the “Ultimate List of At-Home Activity Ideas” and a 2nd page for you to list your own ideas.

Fill this out NOW before the going gets tough and boredom reigns!

Some ideas on the list require supplies, so if certain items appeal to you, make sure to hit the store (if you’re able).

While I highly doubt they’ll be running out of kid’s watercolor painting supplies soon, you never know how many parents have the same idea?!

STEP 5: Have fun.

I know, I know. Global pandemics are not particularly “fun.”

I have fond memories of extended snow day closures, but that’s not exactly what we’re dealing with here right this moment, is it?

If you’re already, or about to be, forced into isolation, make the best of it. Plain & simple.

This Enneagram 1 only gets to this point when she knows she is completely out of the realm of control.

This is your friendly reminder that the only thing we can control today is our choice to either make the best of it or to be miserable.

I know you can find a way to make the best of this.

It feels like my 4-year old daughter could remember this forever if we make it memorable, so that’s my motivation. We might even join TikTok or something crazy like that ;)

What’s your motivation for making this unique and trying global pandemic memorable (in a good way)?


This post is third in a 4-Week Series on Intentional Time Management.

Visit the other helpful posts by clicking below.

If this post resonated with you, keep in touch by subscribing to the newsletter.

Helpful Hint! | If you loved this post, would you please save to a board on Pinterest? Not only is Pinterest a great place to keep your favorite articles in one spot (hello productivity!) but it helps place these tips & tricks in front of other mamas just like you who desperately need some support. Thanks, friend!