Schools around the globe are shutting their doors. Parents are scrambling, trying to figure out what to do.

Full disclosure, I am a homebody so although this might be challenging even for me, at first glance, it doesn’t sound so bad. More like a little holiday: staying a little bit longer in my pajamas, time with my family, and hopefully more time to write.

That being said, I know everyone can use a little bit of encouragement at this time. Here are 8 things that can help:

1. Pick Your Mantra:

Last year we had some challenging issues in our family. My friend wisely told me to set a mantra for myself, a goal. “Make a decision to be cheerful, or strong or calm, just one, not all three and then be that. Hold onto that.”

I picked strong. “I am strong; I can handle this” was my mantra. It worked. Not 100% of the time, but most of the time. I refused to say, “I can’t cope with this,” which up until then was my default thought process.

So make a decision and a mantra, like: “I am going to make the most of this time.” Whatever works and make sense for you and hold onto it.

It might not keep you focused all the time – thinks will definitely get stressful – but having a clear focus can certainly help keep you centered.

2. Be Positive:

We want to transmit a positive vibe to our family. As the parent, you are the captain of your ship. If you are going to be all negative about this, it will definitely trickle down to your family.

So instead of saying: “I can’t believe this! This is horrible, everyone home for so many days! What are we going to do?”

Say, “Wow! This is great! A mini-vacation! We are home for lots of days. It can also be a challenge. I know this family can figure this out. Our family knows how to make fun wherever we are!”

One more thing, don’t let your kids overhear you talking to your friends about how difficult it is to have everyone home. If you need to vent, and you will, try to do it privately.

3. Sibling Rivalry:

Lots of family time means there will definitely be squabbling. That’s just the reality of the situation.

Instead of saying: “There better not be fighting!” try being matter of fact about it: “There might be some fighting, that’s what happens when people spend a lot of time together.”

“Six people in the house, there’s bound to be disagreements…”

You can then follow it up with a more positive statement:

“It’s a good thing we are a family that focuses on solutions…”

“We will figure out a way to get along…”

4. Have a Family Meeting:

Dinner time is when we usually have our important discussions.

Try to brainstorm the following:

  • Ways to minimize the fighting
  • Fun activities to do
  • Screen time rules
  • Some sort of schedule (see #5)

It’s important to get a lot of input from your children. Kids can come up with some great ideas that really work for them. Then when you put your plan into place, they will be more invested in it.

5. About that Schedule:

Everyone does better when they have a schedule. We do want to have fun and enjoy, (see 7) but as parents we still need impose some sort of structure. It’s best if mealtime, screen time, learning time, bath time, outdoor/indoor activities are built into a set schedule. There is still plenty of room for flexibility, for instance, you can make bedtime later, but still have a bedtime.

Remember, everyone can benefit from a bit of alone time, especially parents. It is beneficial for everyone to retire to their rooms with a book or a quiet toy for a half hour or hour every day. Teens will do this naturally. However, little kids will need an incentive. One mom put together a special box with toys for her kids that they were only allowed to use during quiet time. It is a great way for everyone to recharge.

6. Get outside:

Dr. Senders, a pediatrician in our area, says that fresh air is one of the best ways to keep the virus at bay. Get outside. At this point, if you are in quarantine you can’t go further than your porch or backyard, but that can work.

7. Enjoy:

I know I sound like my grandmother, but I don’t care. Enjoy your time with your kids. They grow up so fast. This special opportunity will not come again (hopefully) any time soon.

Make sure to have some old-fashioned fun. Read, bake, plant some flowers, mix up some slime, build couch forts, make tents out of blankets and go outside and watch the clouds.

8. Acts of Lovingkindness:

It is helpful to set some time aside for your family to think of others. We can’t visit, or host and the Bikur Cholim in our area is not taking home cooked foods like they usually do. We need to get creative. Perhaps, phone calls to shut ins or Face-timing quarantined grandparents. We can also pray for our health and the health of everyone worldwide.