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    16 Self-Isolating Tips For Parents That've Worked For My Kids So Far

    Self-isolating + parenting = a lot!

    Hi, I'm Mike and this is me with my wife, Heather. and our children, Annie, 10, and James, 6. My family has been self-isolating since March 13 because of the coronavirus, which means that we've spent almost two weeks together 24/7 in our home.


    All of this has been a big change for adults, but it's been especially hard on kids, who suddenly aren't going to school, playing with their sports teams, seeing their friends, or even hugging their grandparents.

    So far — all things considered — our kids have gotten through the time indoors pretty well, so I thought I’d share some things we've done with them that have worked for us.

    (Note: We're just regular parents, not parent experts/child psychologists or anything, so take it all with a grain of salt!)

    1. We've let them play on electronics a little more than usual.


    I know, I know. We’re all always trying to limit screentime, right? But right now is stressful for kids, and letting them play a bit more than usual is keeping them occupied and happy. This won't go on forever, but stripping the kids of everything they know and love in life, and then immediately trying to LAY. DOWN. THE. LAW. didn't seem like a successful recipe.

    2. We've kept it casual.

    Have we gone entire days in our pajamas? Yes. Is that ok? YES! Look, if there's ever going to be a time when you can indulge in all-day pajama wearing, it's now, amirite?

    3. We've had family movie night...every night.

    Universal, Warner Bros.

    My wife and I are ‘80s kids, so we've used self-isolating as an opportunity to show Annie and James some of the classics from childhood. So far we’ve watched the Back to the Future trilogy, The Goonies, Groundhog Day, and Ghostbusters. Seeing the kids enjoy these movies as much as we did as kids has been a blast.

    The best part of these movie nights, though — from a self-isolating perspective — is that it A) gives the kids something to look forward to all day, B) creates a bit of scheduled normalcy, and C) is family time when we can cuddle and focus on each other.

    4. We've asked them how they’re doing and if they have questions in a calm way during meals.

    Keeping it relaxed is good, because if you ask — all wild-eyed — “DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS?! ARE YOU SCARED?! OMG, LAWD HELP US!!!” — you will probably alarm the kids. Our kids have asked questions and understand what is happening, but they don’t seem too alarmed or worried, and I think that’s good. No need to worry them more than they need to be.

    5. We had a social distance-safe visit with the grandparents.

    Linda Buchanan

    My wife's parents drove over and parked in front of our house, then we brought the kids out onto the lawn to chat from a distance of 20 feet or so. It was great for the kids — and great for their grandparents too!

    6. We've also had the kids FaceTime with their cousins and friends.

    My kids really appreciated seeing their pals' faces, and it was actually funny watching how they FaceTimed. Often, they just leaned the phone up against something and started practicing dances together or showing off action figures.

    7. We've done our best to eat healthier dinners every night.


    We're not making as many trips to the supermarket as we regularly do, so we have been eating more processed foods than normal. To try and combat this, we make healthier dinners each night. In the days after we've gone to the store, we've eaten things like salmon and fresh veggies. And on days when we haven't been to the store in a while, we've had things like spaghetti and eaten frozen vegetables. And, for a fun treat, we even brought out an old popcorn machine we have. It's hard right now (I've personally had way too many Pop-Tarts), but we're doing what we can.

    8. We've only watched the news on the TV in our bedroom.

    My wife and I want to stay on top of what's happening, so we have the news on in our room. But when the TV is on in the main room, it is tuned to fun shows, like cartoons or movies.

    9. We've taken them outside to ride their bikes every day.

    Heather Spohr

    This has been a great to get the kids exercise and fresh air, and it has helped me too, as I run/walk alongside them.

 (I realize we’re lucky that we live on a quiet residential street where it’s easy to go out and ride bikes without encountering anyone. I sympathize with city-living kids who can’t do this so easily.)

    10. We've let the kids make a blanket and couch pillow fort.

    The kids have always wanted to do this, but we’ve always said “no.” But now we thought, Why not? Building and playing in the fort entertained them for two days, and honestly took less clean up (and did less damage) than I imagined.

    11. We've played a lot of board games.


    My kids got a few board games for Christmas, but hadn't cracked them open yet. Now, though, we were really glad to have them! Playing these games was terrific family bonding time, and mixed up the monotony a bit.

    One tip: If you have more than one kid, teach them how to play the games together without you. While I've worked, they've entertained themselves by playing Trouble together.

    12. We've worked with the kids on their homeschooling packets.

    My kids' school is going to start distance learning over the computer next week, so we will see how THAT goes! But so far they have been assigned a packet each week to complete. After the first day, we discovered it's important to sit with them when they do this (otherwise they won't do all of it correctly), but it has been good for them. We generally do an hour of the packet per day.

    13. We've also let them do kids yoga on YouTube.

    View this video on YouTube

    There are lots of "yoga for kids" YouTube videos (like the Frozen-themed one above), and just about every day we put one on the TV in our main room for our kids to follow. I don't know how zen this makes them (as there is a lot of giggling), but it definitely relaxes them and limbers them up! And hey — it's another way to keep them occupied.

    14. We've maintained regular bedtimes.

    With so much different right now, it's good for kids to have some things remain the same.

    15. We've encouraged reading before sleep.

    Heather Spohr / Via

    Luckily for us, the kids had both gotten hooked on Harry Potter before all of this, so they are happy to read when we tell them to. Generally, they do this before bed, and it has helped them settle down.

    16. And we've let our youngest sleep with us when he's needed to.

    Our son has been really good at sleeping in his own bed for a while now, but a few times during self-isolating he has come into our room and asked to sleep with us. I'm not sure why exactly — I imagine he's experiencing perhaps more stress than he's letting on — but instead of shooing him back to his room we're letting him climb in and feel secure. Right now especially, that feels right.

    So that's what we've been doing! What have you been doing with your kids? Share your tips in the comments below, and it could be featured in a future BuzzFeed post!