We are all in this together. Sure we need schedules, food, FaceTime, work at home tricks, etc, but my first and simplest tip is just to keep breathing. Try it right now.
Take a big deep breath, hold it a few seconds then let it go.
Better right? I find myself doing this a few times a day and it really helps. Also, put down your phone.
But you aren’t here for advice on breathing, are you 😏?
I wanted to put together a few things to help keep your time at home simpler. Here’s what I’m sharing today:
- A downloadable schedule with activity ideas to help fill the days
- Some easy recipes you can make with pantry ingredients
- A list of other great resources for filling the time
- A bit of advice for working from home
So let’s jump right in!
“This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.”
A family schedule
When this all started to become our new reality, I tossed my camp director hat on and made us a schedule of activities. This helps us all know what to expect, takes the pressure off of me in the moment to get creative and provides the structure that kids (and adults, too) thrive on.
I’ve created a downloadable pdf for you with a sample schedule for the preschool set (but that could easily be adapted for any age), a one week meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas and activity ideas with supply lists for art, science, cooking with kids and quiet time.
Click here to get it all delivered directly in your inbox. I’m adding more as the weeks go on and by sharing your email address, you’ll never miss a thing!
Some explanation for the weekly activities page (contact me if you want a blank one to customize for your family, I'm happy to share):
- Something Squishy: this is the time to break out the play-doh, the kinetic sand or the slime. Make is something you haven’t played with yet this week.
- Indoor Scavenger Hunt: I’m going to send this out weekly to my email list, but you can also find lots of ideas online. Tailor to your child’s (or partners or parents ages).
- Online Inspiration: Hop onto Pinterest or google and type in something you’ve always wanted to learn about. Spend some time as a family researching it and think about what project you could make to share what you’ve learned. Maybe a short skit that you video and send to family, maybe a diorama (remember those), or a small book that you all contribute to. By the end of this, you’ll have your own research library.
- Chopped competition: Watch an episode of Chopped Junior as a family and then have the kids put together a basket for the adults for the main course and the adults put together a basket for the kids for either the appetizer or dessert. Then have some fun in the kitchen. Set a timer, even have friends or family be virtual judges.
- Book Making: Staple together computer paper with a construction paper cover and let everyone work on their own book. Each week could be a new theme to the stories. Then when they are done, everyone can share their stories with the rest of the family
- Photo Session: Break out your finest clothes, your funniest costumes, your craziest poses...it’s time for a photo session. Pick a different theme each week and have fun. Don’t forget to set up a makeshift tripod so everyone can be in the pics! When this is all over, create an album with all the pictures for a really positive memory to remember this time by
Easy Recipes with Pantry Ingredients
If you are anything like me, you stocked up with a whole bunch of pantry ingredients when you realized that you would be at home for a while. Now that you have all of that food in your pantry are you stumped about what to do with it?
Here are some recipes that I bet you can make with items you purchased:
Have some ingredients you don’t know what to do with? Reach out and I’ll see what I can think of that would be simple to make with what you have on hand.
Also, don't be afraid to keep it really simple:
- make a batch of pancakes or french toast and eat them all week for breakfast
- serve cereal and milk for dinner
- egg and cheese sandwiches can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner
- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch is what we all grew up on....doesn't have to be any fancier
- veggies and dip are great for snack...I made hummus from what I had on hand and it's great!
What should we do to fill all the time together?
As I talked about before, making a schedule will help keep everyone sane. But you need to have some down time too. While I’m keeping the weekdays full of activities and a schedule, the weekends are going to be a lot looser (just like normal).
We are going to watch movies, have family reading time, make forts, go on long walks, etc. The husband and I are also trying to find time to give each other a break when possible. Here are some ideas to accomplish this:
- Switching off lunch duty, so one person can take a break at meal time when kids are busy eating.
- Scheduling FaceTime calls with friends, family, grandparents, etc. Ask them to read your kiddos a book or do an activity together virtually.
- Taking the kids out in the backyard while the other one cleans up the tornado in the house.
- Allowing time for a hot shower, a workout, etc. while the other entertains the kids
- Switching off doing bedtime so that it's not always the same person stuck in the room getting the 30th cup of water or band-aid...not that this really happens 🙄.
The kids need a break from us too, especially if they are normally in school. Find a corner in the house if you can that’s all theirs. Make sure they know they can retreat to their “cozy corner” on their own if they want.
Keep things as light and as simple as you can. Puzzles take a ton of time if your kiddos are old enough. Podcasts are great, as are books on tape. Everyone puts on a set of headphones and listens to something for an hour, in the same room, but doing what interests them...then talk about it after and see what good conversation gets sparked.
One of the pieces of the weekend schedule I’m most looking forward to is “quiet reading time”. We did it today and it was awesome. Everyone in their own space, for 30 minutes of reading or looking at books or writing quietly.
And, if it starts getting too much put away your phone, take a deep breath, then crack a joke, turn up the dance music, and get silly!
On working from home
This ones tricky. The simplest answer is find a dedicated working space, keep consistent hours, and try to limit distractions...but that’s not reality when 4 people are living in 4 rooms 24 hours a day until who knows when.
Some things I can tell you to make it simple (and this is advice I give any time). Prepare for the day ahead of time.
- Decide on your meals and get them prepped before you start your workday
- Decide on the breaks you are going to take, what will you do and when will you do them
- Figure out where you can go if you need it quiet for a meeting, can your partner keep the kids (or themselves) totally occupied during that time
- Keep a schedule, like you would a work. Do you normally work out mid-day? Get out and go for a walk and catch up with others in your house.
- Limit your work hours the best you can to 9-5 (or your normal shift)
Have other great ideas for working at home with kids at home also? Send them my way and I'll share them as I can.
Simple Resource List
Art Activities/Supplies we love:
- Anything from Alex Brands, but especially this big kit (if it's out of stock with Prime, just search Alex Brands in Amazon for the other kits...we haven't had a bad one yet.
- Contact Paper and Cellophane
- Beads and elastic
- Construction Paper
- Spin Art
- Gems, stickers, etc
- Pom-poms, feathers, etc.
- Cotton balls and toilet paper tubes
Toys we are into (this is for the 2 and 4 ½ year old set)....full disclosure, we live in a small space and don't have a ton of toys, my kids are much more into creative messes with cardboard boxes, blankets, dining room chairs, etc. These are the ones they play with consistently:
- Picasso Tiles (like Magnatiles but cheaper)
- Legos (both Duplo and regular)
- This riding toy is great for obstacle courses
- Bristle Blocks
- Yoga Mats
- Farm Animal Set
Podcasts for everyone, you can find them on any podcast app and most on Spotify:
- Reading Bug - Play both parts together for over an hour of good storytelling, we all like listening to these...my 4 year old will listen to the entire thing and she's a wiggleworm
- Story Spectacular - short kids stories
- Little stories for tiny people - good stories, mid length, with a lesson attached typically
- Stories Podcast - many based on older myths and stories, hold their attention, but some with themes more appropriate for older kids
- Wow in the World - science based from NPR
- Armchair Expert - great interviews on a range of topics, not to listen to with the kids
- Bon Appetit Foodcast - if you are looking to get inspired in the kitchen while stuck at home or are just into food
- The Sourdough Podcast - if you are looking to start a new project since you are already home, this is a totally relaxing one. Also, if you are local to Chicago, I can share my starter through porch pick-up, just reach out!
- How I Built This - since we might all need to be creative entreprenuers, this is a great podcast to inspire you to think outside the box from NPR.
- Boss Maidel - Talks to Jewish woman entrepreneurs about all the things
- RISE Podcast - Pick and choose your episodes, but there are some inspiring conversations to listen to here.
As always, please reach out with any questions or suggestions that you think I should add to this list. Happy to keep sharing my simple tips and tricks in this crazy time!