Don’t Give Up Your Day Drinking Job: Scheduling Survival in the Time of Socially Distant Holidays

Now that the kids are home for the holidays under continued social distancing conditions, how do we differentiate one day from the next? How do we stop one activity from sliding into another and it all becoming a giant morass of sameness? And what time is wine o’clock during lockdown anyway when you’re trying to work, entertain children and stay sane?

Firstly, let me just cut to the chase and say: normal rules do not apply right now. Whatever worked for you and your family before, when options to leave the house and interact with others were available, they may not work for you now, especially if you’re living in close quarters. It’s hard to suddenly need your home to function as a school, a corporate office, a playground, a gym, and a place of relaxation and respite. Added to which, it’s challenging for everyone in the home to get their needs met only by the other people you happen to share a house with. So feel free to toss out that schedule and start over.

And I do think this is the key. A schedule. But not the kind that I’ve seen being sent around that gives a blow by blow, hour by hour breakdown of what aspect of your child’s education you should be focusing on at any given time. Even if you’re a full time caregiver and not working, this is a relentless task that just adds more stress to a difficult situation, when the name of the game here is harmony. My recommendation is to come up with plan that suits you with a baseline set at showering and making your bed each day.

That might look like a chess match during breakfast, Minecraft after lunch and a FaceTime playdate before dinner. Or maybe it’s watching the Harry Potter series of movies over a few days culminating in a presentation about the major themes. Perhaps it’s a whiteboard chart that bored minds can refer to for stimulus suggesting things like a game of Scrabble (spelling) in the morning and baking (science) in the afternoon. And let’s not forget about Joe Wicks for PE. Whatever it is, relax a little. Focus on fun instead of the time when your child lost his entire Chinese vocabulary.

There are plenty of things to do and lots of ideas to mine from the internet, but being prescriptive about when to do them might lead to mutiny and constant interruptions. So shape your routine around chunks of time, and then ask the kids to fill in those chunks with a list of suggestions to independently choose from. You could break the ideas up into categories like Electronics, Sport, Individual and Group time. No matter what you do - no glitter! Take it from a teacher, this will only end badly.

And to the query that’s on our minds the most – how early is too early to start drinking? Far be it from me to offer advice on this one. However, a good rule of thumb might be more along the lines of, how much did I get done today? If you’ve managed to cross off more than half your to-do list then you might deserve an early aperitif. But chances are, the intrusions will be frequent enough to prevent you from reaching that goal and you’ll remain in check!


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