5 Effective Tricks to Make the Most of the  COVID-19 Lockdown

When You are Stuck at Home with the Kids

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.

~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities


That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I think we can all agree that the COVID-19 lockdown  has created the strangest times in recent history.

It's easy to panic, and it's perfectly reasonable to feel overwhelmed and incredibly concerned. But did you know you can actually thrive during this time?

You're probably thinking, "Sara, what the heck are you even talking about ?!"

Hang with me here.

To have a kickass life, you have got to figure how to twist your life around so that you get yourself in a position to thrive no matter what is going on. And look at this way, if you can figure out how to thrive while stuck at home with the kids amidst the COVID-19 lockdown…Girlfriend, there isn’t a whole you can’t do!

Ok. So why all the freaking out anyway?

We all struggle when something hits us out of left field. I often say, "You can have the sunniest disposition in the world, but when somebody sucker punches you, you are going to go down."

Miss Corona V (my pet name for the new visitor to our planet) throws a mean sucker punch! And not just one punch, several.

No matter how sunny your disposition is, the truth is that you have been hit squarely, and you have been hit repeatedly, in several places.


You’ve been hit squarely in the routine

Kids are home from school for 3 WEEKS at least. That means a ton more shopping for groceries, stress about having them underfoot and keeping them occupied, and lots of questions.

You may be home from work, or just plain out of work, wondering what the heck you might do with these kidlets for weeks, or more…and how you will survive this entire ordeal.

You’ve been hit in the information

There is coronavirus information everywhere! Who has the virus, who doesn’t. Is this a political hoax? What do the scientists say, and what happens when the scientists don’t agree? Is there testing, how do you stay safe, what is social distancing, do you use soap or sanitizer, and where has all the toilet paper gone???

And there are the constant updates:

“Another person has tested positive.”

“Tests aren’t available.”

“A famous person has the virus.”

“This many people have died.”

The information that is available is constant, conflicting, and updated endlessly. 

You've been hit in the wallet

You may be off work without pay, or upset at the idea that you are using up all your sick or vacation time. You may be worried about paying your bills, covering new expenses, or have some big concerns about what just happened to your 401K. 

You’ve been hit in the uncertainty

As governments work to get out in front of this virus we are seeing unprecedented actions. Schools, restaurants, and public gathering shutdowns. Events are being eliminated or rescheduled.

Rumors about extended shutdowns, supply rationing, and happenings that feel extreme are occurring in communities all over the world.

I am there with you.

I worry about my kids, that their homes are stocked as needed, and that everyone stays healthy. I am writing this from a Hospice room as my father bids adieu to this world, and I am hoping that we can conduct a proper funeral, or at least come close to one.

We have had the great privilege to take most of our life activities for granted, and hopefully we can return to that condition very soon.

Given all this, the idea that you might actually be able to thrive while stuck at home with the kids amidst the COVID-19 lockdown might feel 100% impossible to you. Heck, right now, you may even wonder if you are going to survive all these rapidly evolving changes at all.

But it’s totally true.

You absolutely can thrive while stuck at home with the kids amidst the COVID-19 lockdown, and here are 5 ways to make that happen.

Don’t panic

I know. That may feel a bit easier said than done. Nonetheless, staying calm is important.

What will panicking accomplish?

Nothing. Not one thing. Other than…make you feel even more overwhelmed.

One of my top life rules is: Control what you can control.

You can’t control COVID 19, but you can control your response to the situation at hand.  Let me say that again…

You have complete control over how you respond to this situation.

Your decision will frame your ability to survive, and to thrive. And…you are teaching your children how to manage in times of stress and uncertainty.

Use your newfound time

If you’ve ever said anything along the lines of, “There aren’t enough hours in the day.” Then this is your time!

Busy single moms are…well…busy.

A gift of time is a gift of time, no matter how you slice it.

What are all those things you have been wishing for an opportunity to spend time on?

Giving the house a thorough cleaning?

Reading and playing games with the kids?

Catching up on sleep?

Soaking in the tub?

Now is your time! Pause and give some thought how you can use this time to catch up, and then how you can get ahead. Make it your personal goal to be in the best possible position to lunge forward once this entire experience has been resolved. 

Get outside and move

Fresh air and exercise will help to drain your kids' energy and make it easier for them to relax.

They can run around the yard, play with bubbles, do jumping jacks, race each other, play tag, play Hide and Seek, impersonate animals, play Charades, Kick the Can, or anything else you or they can think of, or that you can find on the Internet.

If you can’t get outside, open the windows and do what you can inside the house. The kids will feel better and so will you. Create several breaks throughout the day, every day.  

Turn off the screens

Make at least part of everyday screen free.  The constant barrage of stimulation is not healthy or calming, and the screen emissions are not healthy either.

And no child wants to be in a room with a parent who is glued to their phone. It is distracting, rude, and neglectful. Put the phone in a drawer and only check it at specific times. Your kids need you, and your attention and guidance.

Keep the Coronavirus updates to a minimum. Check in to a reliable news source once or twice a day maximum. There is no need to terrorize yourself by being glued to the continuous news cycle, and it is certainly not healthy for your children.

Create structure

If you’ve been longing to create some structure in your family’s life but haven’t quite gotten around to it, now is your chance!

Putting a routine in place will keep life as chill as possible. The familiarity of a routine helps everybody know and understand what to expect, and creates a daily sense of “normal”.

Here’s what to include in your COVID-19 Lockdown routine:

Wake up time – will the kids sleep in, be allowed out of bed at dawn, have to read or relax until a certain time in the morning before hitting the floor and starting the day? How the day starts has a profound impact on how the day goes. Define what works for your family. 

Eating breakfast and getting dressed – While a PJ day every once in a while is fun, sticking to the structure they are used to will keep the days from dragging along. 

Screen time – When will screens be off and when will they be on? Who will choose what is watched? What screen time will be spent alone, and what screen time will be spent together as a family?

Get Outside/Exercise 

Meal times – Eat as many meals at the table as possible, with the TV off. Breaking the day into clear segments will help the kids (and you) to manage the long days better, and interacting with each other with help with feelings of isolation.

Chores – Responsibilities continue, even during a pandemic. If you’ve wanted to teach the kids some new domestic skills but haven’t had the time…well now's your chance.

If you aren’t sure what expectations are age appropriate, use the chart below as a guide to get started.

Kid Chores by AgeFrom Motherlode.com and the NY Times

Academics – Reading/flashcards/math/etc. It is hard for the kids to have extended breaks under normal circumstances too.

When they go back to school they have to learn to manage a routine again, and have to remember all those academic lessons from before their break. To make life easier for the kids, keep the lessons going through school breaks.

Workbooks are available on Amazon, you can write out addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables, give them dollar amounts and have them draw coins and dollars that equal those amounts or just tell you the coins and bills that would be required, give them words to spell, story ideas to develop, etc.

And grab even more ideas for kids of any age/grade level at Time.com - Coronavirus kids' at-home activities . 

Cooking/baking – Kids can do meal prep, plan menus, clean up the kitchen, search the Internet for recipes, bake cookies, cakes, and bread, learn the food groups, set the table, make grocery lists, etc. Cooking is a life skill, and kids who don’t learn this skill as children, aren’t prepared to properly nourish themselves as adults. Plus...the more they learn to do on their own...the more help you get! SCORE!

Games/Crafts/Activities – Not only are these activities fun, but they are a great source of bonding. The family that plays together stays together. Teaching your children that your family is a team that supports each other is a lesson that will serve you all for decades to come. I firmly believe that my time working with and playing with my siblings is the absolute reason we come together as a team to support each other and our parents when the circumstances of life require such an effort.

Baths/showers – Not only does bath time make it easier to unwind and prepare for sleep, but Miss Corona V thrives in an unclean environment. Keep bodies clean, minds relaxed, and your normal bedtime routines in place.

Bed times – Your kids are going to stay healthier and calmer when they have a sufficient amount of sleep, and research tells us that having a consistent wake and sleep time provides the most benefit. While staying up late to watch a movie or support an extended round of Monopoly is just fine, your kids are better served by routine and predictability.

Don’t worry about the money

I know…easier said than done. Focus first on food, and then do what you can.

Keep creditors informed, and hang tight. Everyone is in this together. Help is coming. Maintain necessities, keep everyone healthy, and trust that all will work out. Remember, control what you can control. Let the rest go.

Worry does not fill the bank account, it only makes life harder than necessary.

Count Your Blessings

The easiest and fastest way to turn your mind from worry to thriving is by counting your blessings.

“But Sara, I am scared, worried, overwhelmed, and stuck in this house with these kids on a COVID-19 Lockdown. Blessings? What the heck are you talking about?”

Blessings abound. Let me help you get the count started…

  • You have internet and electricity.
  • Your family is healthy.
  • Food is available one way or another.
  • There are helpers everywhere.
  • You are not alone. We are all in this together.
  • You have the gift of time with your children, and there is simply no greater gift.

Get the facts

A 24-hour news cycle demands that time be filled. There are only so many facts or updates in a given space of time. Because news channels have to fill up their air time, they fill it up with speculation, opinions, and repeating the same information over, and over, and over.

The end result is that you are hit with tons and tons of information, leaving you to feel like the sky is falling, and that you aren’t sure what to believe and where to go to get the actual facts.

InformationIsBeautiful.net has compiled data from the World Health Organization (WHO) to make it easier to understand the actual facts about the coronavirus, and to provide some perspective on this illness in comparison to other diseases that impact our fellow world citizens.

The infographics below are current as of March 16, 2020. Future updates can be found  here

WHO CoronavirusDataPack March 16, 2020. Stuck at home with the kids.InformationIsBeautiful.net Coronavirus Datapack

Special support for those moms who are working and home schooling at the same time!

First, know that working and teaching at the same time is no easy task.

Single moms are all over social media expressing their frustration, and serious feelings of overwhelm. If you are having the same response, understand that this response is a perfectly acceptable response given the situation.

Take a deep, long breath.

You can get through this. Here’s how…

We are going to look at one week at a time – Monday through Sunday.

Start with your work and…

Outline exactly what your job expectations are during this time.

List the exact hours you are expected to work.

What deadlines do you have?

When do you have to be present for meetings?

Look at your kids’ assignments and…

List all the work your kids have to do for each child.

List all deadlines and due dates.

List all the schoolwork tasks you have to do with each child. (For example: Do you need to explain concepts, help them read, practice with them, proof papers, etc.)

List all the schoolwork task your kids can complete on their own. (For example: Flashcards, reading, assignments, paper writing, etc.)

Single Mom Master Calendar

Calendar it

Transfer all your work and the kids’ schoolwork to a calendar, complete with times.

How does it look? Where is the overlap? Can you fit in all the requirements?

If so, GREAT!

You are good to go for this week. Repeat the process above each week you are working at home and home schooling at the same time.

If you can’t fit everything in, don’t panic! We just need to make a few adjustments.

Take a good look at your spots of overlap. What needs to give? You have only 2 options...either work, or schoolwork. 

What can you adjust? Here are some suggestions if you are feeling stuck. 

Speak to your boss and request:

Some flexibility in your hours. Can you work in the morning before the kids get up, or after the kids go to bed? This would give you some free time during the day.

Can you have a longer work day, with more breaks in the day?

Can you take an extended lunch break?

Can you decrease your hours during this time?

Can you shift some of your work to the weekends?

Speak to your kids’ teacher and request:

Modified timelines. Can deadlines be pushed back? Can assignments come in on the weekends?

Extra help. Can the teacher give your child a bit of 1:1 time via FaceTime or other electronic tool? Can the teacher provide you with any tools and resources so you can make the most of your time with your child?

Based on these answers, modify your calendar again, and see how everything fits now. We are all in this together and everyone is doing their best. You aren’t going to be left high and dry either through work or when it comes to the kids’ schoolwork.

You need to understand your requirements, where you have gaps, and what exactly you need to fill those gaps each week. Once you are able to create a doable schedule, you must have the focus and discipline to stick to the schedule once it is in place, and if any surprises come up, you have the responsibility to communicate the problem and your new needs.

Do everything you can to adhere to agreed upon plans because you will only get so many last-minute adjustments before you lose your credibility.

And DO NOT short change your older children’s education by requiring they watch younger children instead of doing their own homework. (I was recently horrified to see a single mom plead with the high school teachers to not give her kids assignments because they had to babysit the younger kids.)

It’s fine to have the older kids help the younger ones. Just lay out the assignments as noted above, and make sure everyone can get their needs met.

With a little planning and structure you can't just keep everyone  (including you)  happy, busy, and sane during this crazy time of COVID-19 lockdown, you can thrive! 

Make meal planning a little easier! 

Single Moms Ask Sara Free Grocery List and Menu Maker