In a time when everyone is feeling drained from the weeks or months of quarantine—especially considering many of us still have no idea how much longer we’ll have to manage all of this—it may be time to try some new strategies to make things easier on yourself.
Some parents in the Coronavirus Parents Facebook group have shared brilliant suggestions that really help them pull through each week while they’re managing a household, school, daycare, and career all at once with no breaks. Sometimes the simplest things can go a long way to making a day feel more manageable.
Activities, chores, and breaks for all
The following ideas can help establish a routine and fill the hours with wholesome content, while boosting everyone’s mental health and sense of responsibility.
- Have a close relative Zoom or FaceTime the kids to read stories or to lead another virtual activity every day or on a certain day of the week at a set time. It lets kids bond with a loved one, counts as a literacy lesson, and gives you a mental break.
- Have designated quiet hours where kids can choose to read or play quietly, but without screens. It gives everyone some time to recharge, and can provide adults space to get something done. (If getting “quiet hours” feels next to impossible at your house, check out our helpful tips for getting alone time while everyone’s quarantined at home.)
- Run the dishwasher every night and expect the kids to be responsible for unloading it each morning. You can do the same with laundry and have kids fold and put away their own clothes.
- Figure out some other chores that your kids actually like to do and are able to do mostly by themselves—whether it’s vacuuming, shaking out door mats, watering the plants, restocking toilet paper, putting out the recycling, or washing the car—and turn it into a weekly routine. You can try one of our pain-free ways to help make it happen!
Managing every meal for the whole family
These hacks can help control the food consumption and waste in the household so you don’t have to go to the grocery store as frequently. They also prevent kids (or spouses) from constantly asking about food.
- Fill a designated water bottle for each family member every morning to cut down on washing and refilling cups during the day, while keeping everyone hydrated.
- Put out a healthy snack bowl that doles out a reasonable amount for each family member so they don’t consume too much, or come to you constantly asking for snacks during the day.
- Make extra big meals on the weekends, or whenever you have the capacity, so you can have leftovers on hand in the freezer or fridge to pull out whenever you need them. This can work for breakfast (pancakes, crepes, waffles, etc.) as well as lunch and dinner.
- Do meal prep work during random times of the day, cutting a vegetable or measuring dry ingredients here and there when you have 10 minutes. You can even count it as a kids’ activity, where each member of the family is responsible for prepping one ingredient or element of the meal, for instance. That way you’re not scrambling as much when it’s almost dinner time.
- Write out a menu for the following day (or even the whole week) so that you have a plan to use up all the food in the fridge before it spoils, and so that kids aren’t constantly asking what’s for dinner or snack.
- Focus on cheap and easy recipes that focus on using staple, shelf-stable items you probably have on hand, and/or that include easy clean-up (single pan dishes are great for that).
No one expects you to run a perfect household while parenting during a pandemic, but there are ways to make your own life more manageable. Even if you only have the mental energy to try one of these strategies now, it could end up saving you some time or headaches down the line—and may even be something you decide to keep on doing post-pandemic.