We’ve started home isolation earlier than some and as a result have been given a snapshot into what life is like when you have children at home (unexpectedly).  This feels very different to the school holiday period where you know it is coming as there are holidays booked, play dates planned and lots of school holiday events to get them busy. I thought I would give some tips on creating a family routine while in isolation. 

So what I’ve pulled together is a “What’s In” guide for the coming weeks if schools close based on my experiences from having three children (5, 9 & 11) home and my knowledge as an Occupational therapist.

Set A Schedule While I Isolation 

Have your older kids involved in setting a schedule where possible.  Trust me, they will be far more interested in following it if they are involved in the development of it.  Brainstorm how you would like the day to roll and write it out or type it up and put it on the fridge so everyone can see it and refer to it through the day.

Be flexible though.  It’s okay to change things up if they aren’t working.  Or if you or the kids come up with another idea/plan. You can see an example homeschooling schedule here

Set Yourself Up For Success

I found that by getting everyone involved in a fun family activity first up, really set the day up for success.  Sometimes this was a family walk, a family board game, or just some of our fav tunes got everyone in a positive mood.  Prepping for dinner and lunch gave me a sense of control as well and stopped the constant questions of “what’s for lunch..dinner”.

Be Realistic While In Isolation 

Set expectations on the lower end for the least for your first week of being home. Your kids (and you) need to feel a sense of achievement and if everyone feels like they aren’t achieving the tasks set and you feel like you are constantly nagging it is not going to be fun for anyone.

Remember Learning Isn’t All Books & Pencils

There’s so many learning opportunities that you can tap into around the home. It’s still okay to go and play a game of family tennis, or a bush walk, or go fishing in a creek.  You don’t need to be in complete isolation, just away from groups of people for a while.

Get Creative While In Isolation 

Activities at home can be board games, sensory play, STEM (Science/technology/Engineering/Mathematics) activities, work books with find a words and crosswords, creating a play or music video (imovie on your phone is simple to create movies with).

Let Technology Be Your Friend

There is an incredible amount of resources that you can find online.  It will be a long day, especially if you have early rises so don’t be afraid or feel bad to let the have some tech time.  Some free educational online resources can be found here


Create ‘Sit Beside’ Me Activities

These ideas are perfect for when you are preparing food, need to make a phone call or have work to do from home yourself.

  • Simple puzzles for little ones and more complex for older ones
  • Colouring In
  • Cross-stitch for older kids
  • Read a book
  • Create a dinner ideas list by going through recipes books

Balancing Toddler/Preschoolers & Older Children

The youngest member of the family can quickly undo all the fun and potential good of an activity as developmentally they are just not ready for the attention or skill required.

I’ve found either doing the activity with the older children when the youngest was asleep gave us some dedicated time to play or setting up a modified version for the young child to participate.  Also having them pair up with a grown up helped keep the frustration away.

Have Fun

Try to remember that these are special circumstances in which your children are home. This is a big change for them as much as it is for you. It will not be the end of the world if you do not accomplish everything they would if they had been at school all day. It is not expected, you are not a qualified teacher and I’m sure your also trying to juggle a million other things. Just do your best and try not to allow the siutaion to stress you out. Have your children remember that this was a time you got through together the best you could and not a bad experience. 

If you are looking for ideas on things to do check out our Home Based Activities category on our blog.

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