There's no one-size-fits-all schedule for families—or even a chance of keeping a schedule at all some days. But these tips and daily activities for different ages may just help bring a little order into your home during the chaotic time that is COVID-19 quarantine.

By Rebecca Hastings
March 27, 2020
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With so much uncertainty right now, there are bound to be hard days when nothing is going according to plan. Knowing how to handle those days (and still get things done) makes a big difference. Enter the top two things your daily schedule at home needs: alone time for everyone (including yourself) and time to be together. If you can be sure to work those two things into your day, you will give yourself a leg up.

Some days all you may manage to plan out is answering emails before the kids are up and what movie you'll watch together after dinner. And. That. Is. OK. Other days, you may have more time to plan some time outside, in the kitchen, or crafts to do. But the point is having a few easy ways to spend an hour in your back pocket, whatever they may be, that can help you get things done while still balancing child care and work.

Wondering where to start? We put together a few daily schedules for a variety of situations and ages to give you some ideas for breaking up a day at home. Take ideas that work for you, leave ones that don't, and create a schedule that works for your family with these tips in mind:

  1. Be realistic about what you MUST get done. Skip what you don't.
  2. Pair things up that work together.
  3. Try to include family time, time outside, and rest time every day for everyone every day if you can manage it.

Working from Home with a Baby

When I had my oldest, I remember thinking I had two goals to accomplish each day (besides keep the baby alive.) First, I needed a shower. Second, we needed to get out of the house. While the social distancing guidelines for coronavirus do make getting out a bit more challenging, we can still make it happen. To give you some ideas for how to make your day work, try this sample schedule:

7:00 a.m. Get Ready. Everyone up, fed, dressed and showered

8:00 a.m. Be Active. Start with a walk outside. If the weather doesn't cooperate try a parent/baby yoga workout on YouTube.

9:00 a.m. Baby/toddler Helpers. Try babywearing or asking your toddler to help with work. Give him/her a stack of papers, an old phone or a computer that is off and let them work next to you as you do simple computer tasks like emails and make a plan for what you need to do.

10:00 a.m. Snack and nap for baby. Toddlers play with independent toys nearby (puzzles, blocks, stuffed animals, books). Parent(s) work.

12:00 p.m. Lunch and outside time. Eat lunch together and then head outside. Even having the baby sit in the stroller with a change of scenery and fresh air can make a world of difference. Toddlers will love sandbox time, sidewalk chalk or free play. You can bring some work outside with you.

1:00 p.m. Books and video. Some designated reading time and a favorite video is a great way to wind down. This gives you a chance to work.

2:00 p.m. Afternoon nap for baby or toddler. Quiet work time.

4:00 p.m. Be engaged. We all know how crazy these predinner hours can be. If you can play with your littles now, it will help keep things calm.

5:00 p.m. Dinner

6:00 p.m. Bath time. If two parents are home, this is a great time to give one parent some quiet time for work or rest.

7:00 p.m. Family time & bedtime. This is a great time to put little ones in the stroller for a short, relaxed walk.

8:00 p.m. Finish any work you can and plan for the next day.

9:00 p.m. Take a break. Give yourself time to relax.

10:00 p.m. Bed! Your rest is just as important as the kids!

Working from Home with a Toddler or Preschooler

Kids this age have two speeds: go and stop. Your goal is clearly to keep them engaged and active (while still getting work done) while you're home together. A day loaded with activities and no schedule at all is absolutely fine. But if you want to give one a try, consider something like this:

7:00 a.m. Get Ready / Everyone up, fed, dressed and showered

8:00 a.m. Be Active / Start with a walk outside. If the weather doesn't cooperate try a family workout like this one on YouTube.

9:00 a.m. Little Helpers / Ask your toddler or preschooler to do work with you. Give him or her some paper and pens and an old phone or a computer with a word processor open to type their "work." You can right next to him or her and explain some of what you do for simple tasks like email or a Zoom call with a colleague who also has their child home.

10:00 a.m. Snack and independent play in their room. Help your child identify three things he or she can do while playing in their room. / Parent(s) work

11:00 a.m. Electronics time / Parent(s) work nearby

12:00 p.m. Lunch and outside time. Eat lunch together and then head outside. Sandbox time, sidewalk chalk, bubbles or free play / You can bring some work outside with you.

1:00 p.m. Books and Quiet time. Gather some pillows and blankets and a stack of books to make a reading nook / Parent(s) work

2:00 p.m. Nap time if possible, otherwise start playtime / Parent(s) work

3:00 p.m. Playtime. Crafts, coloring, legos, dolls, make believe / Parent(s) work

4:00 p.m. Be engaged. We all know how crazy these predinner hours can be. If you can play with your littles now, it will help keep things calm.

5:00 p.m. Dinner

6:00 p.m. Bath time. If two parents are home, this is a great time to give one parent some quiet time for work or rest.

7:00 p.m. Family time & bedtime. A leisurely walk and some family reading or games is a great way to be present together.

8:00 p.m. Finish any work you can and plan for the next day

9: 00 p.m. Take a break. Give yourself time to relax.

10:00 p.m. Bed! Your rest is just as important as the kids!

Working from Home with Kids Ages 5-10

Striking a balance between meaningful learning opportunities, physical activity, and rest is key for elementary age kids. Consider these ideas for setting a schedule:

8:00 a.m. Family breakfast

8:30 a.m. Clean up rooms / Email, work time

9:00 a.m. Academic 1. This Scholastic program has daily activities completely organized for you / Work nearby to help as needed

9:45 a.m. Break and snack

10:00 a.m. Academic 2. Finish activities from earlier or try new things like Khan Academy or Mystery Science. / Work time

11:00 a.m. TV time / Work in next room

12:00 p.m. Lunch and outside play / Work nearby

1:00 p.m. DEAR (Drop Everything And Read independently) / Quiet work time

1:30 p.m. Craft or coloring / Work nearby

2:30 p.m. Online activity / Work nearby

3:15 p.m. Family activity (game, cooking, project)

4:00 p.m. Kids free time / Work as needed until dinner

6:00 p.m. Family dinner & walk or play outside

7:00 p.m. Family TV time

7:30 p.m. Baths & PJs

8:00 p.m. Kids Bedtime / Finish work, prepare for the next day

9:00 p.m. Relax

Working from Home with Kids Ages 10-13

With increased ability to work independently, tweens will appreciate having down time as well as check-ins from you to stay on track. A few things to try:

8:00 a.m. Family breakfast

8:30 a.m. Clean up rooms / Email, work time

9:00 a.m. Academic 1. Utilize any resources from school to keep up with learning / Work nearby to help as needed

10:00 a.m. Snack & Break

10:30 a.m. Helpful Job – With everyone at home things may need extra cleaning. Assign a job like vacuuming a room or wiping down the bathroom / Work as needed

11:00 a.m. Academic 2. Finish activities from earlier or try new things like Khan Academy or Mystery Science. / Work, checking in once or twice to make sure kids are on task

12:00 p.m. Lunch and outside play / Work time

1:00 p.m. DEAR (Drop Everything And Read independently) / Quiet work time

1:30 p.m. Creative time such as crafts, legos. coloring or baking / Work time

2:30 p.m. Free time / Work time

5:00 p.m. Dinner & Walk

7:00 p.m. Electronics time / Finish up work

8:30 p.m. Kids get ready for bed

9:00 p.m. Bedtime for kids / Parents relax

Working from Home with Teens

While they may seem completely independent, teens are likely to need a framework for how to best spend their time. Here are a few ways to do it:

7:00 a.m. Work time

8:30 a.m. Wake up, dressed & breakfast

9:30 a.m. Learning Time for any school assigned learning. If there is nothing assigned try reading, Khan Academy or have them research something they're interested in and prepare a presentation by the end of the week / Work Time

11:30 a.m. Electronics time / Work time

12:00 p.m. Lunch & outside time

1:00 p.m. Reading time / Work time

2:00 p.m. Finish learning activities / Work time

3:00 p.m. Free time / Work time

5:30 p.m. Dinner & Family time

7:00 p.m. Free time

10:00 p.m. Bed

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