Our Kid Routine During Social Distancing: A Totally Non-Pinterest-Worthy Schedule


Can we just start with the fact that I bought a ukulele today? Not your average $20 kids’ toy ukulele…this was an over $100 REAL ukulele. I don’t play the ukulele. These are weird times, guys. 

As soon as I heard school was canceled and we were going to be pretty much homebound with the need for social distancing, I immediately started thinking we would all learn a new musical instrument, we would also learn Spanish, we would cook as a family every day, we would all learn how to sew, we’d organize all of our cabinets, we’d get in really good physical shape, and do all sorts of interesting engineering and art and creative writing and science projects from Pinterest that we never have time to do. 

Hmmmm…that sounds awesome and all, but how does one do that and also work from home and keep up with household responsibilities and maintain SOME social contact with other adults (even if it’s over the phone) and complete all the other random things in life that need to be done?  Hmmmm…full-time video gaming for my kids looking like a MUCH better option. Hmmmm…but my kids become horrible terrible monsters after too much screen time. Hmmmm…cooped up with horrible terrible monsters for weeks on end…hmmmm…also not a good option.  

Homebound: Our Kids’ Daily Routine While Social Distancing

My brain is spinning, my purchases have been extremely erratic (note: Ukuleles), my mood and outlook on life even MORE erratic, and my kids and I have realized fairly quickly…what we NEED is structure. My 11-year-old son walked down the stairs clutching a piece of construction paper with lines and boxes and writing in magic marker. “I think we need a schedule, mom.” Yes, Yes, YES! This IS my son! I too LOVE a good schedule. Oooooh! Make it a routine, put little check boxes next to each task that you can move over a little magnet to show when completed…that’s even better. A routine it is.  

We sat at the dining room table and brainstormed all sorts of ideas, then sorted those ideas into categories. Our first routine involved set time periods for art and music and building things and cooking, but then we decided that was a little too specific, too much pressure, and it would work better to have broad categories that give us more flexibility.

I’ll admit, the routine we’re going to try is nothing special. Nothing super-creative. Nothing at ALL Pinterest-worthy. Our routine IS fairly doable, though, which is MUCH more important for our family. AND, it still creates enough structure to keep us all a bit grounded. Flexibility will definitely be key. I’ve already “slipped up” and let my kids sleep until 9:30 on Day 1. During Family Activity Time Day 1, they told me they wanted to continue practicing parkour stunts with just each other (not me). I tried not to take it personally and put away my computer and phone and made myself totally available anyway. We’ll adjust as we go along and even throw the schedule out the window if it ends up not working at all. It’s a start, though. And a start feels good.

**I’m totally laughing b/c our fabulous TME graphic designer, Jeni, took what the kids and I did, and made it actually Pinterest-worthy below. Ha! Scroll down, though, to see my magic marker and construction paper masterpieces…they also work just fine.

UPDATE: Jeni also created a printable version of the chart below if that’s easier! Click here for colorful OR here for black & white. AND she made a generic master schedule in colorful and black and white to print out as well. On the master schedule you can write in your own timing (b/c mine is needing to adjust later and later each day) and even cut out the boxes and rearrange with your trusty glue stick. Ooooh…another project for the kids! Important reminder, though, handwritten works JUST as well.

Desperate times...Homebound, working from home & home schooling...here's our daily kids' scheduled for social distancing, flattening the curve (& staying sane).

Home School Schedule & Staying Sane While Flattening The Curve


The kids and I have been totally geeking out brainstorming ideas for all of these categories. I took down the school calendars and school notes from our clipboard system and replaced them with our brainstorming lists that we can add to daily as we come up with new ideas. If you want to join me…don’t type it out, don’t worry about spelling, don’t worry about handwriting, just get started and encourage the whole family to add ideas as we go along. Here’s what we have so far.

*Important Disclaimer: There is no need to BUY any of this stuff. Just have the kids make lists of all the toys and games and materials you already have in the house. I went ahead and put Amazon links in for the specific things we are personally using to stay sane here (in case you WANT to buy something new and that’s the best option for you), but if you’re shopping for new things, I also encourage you to buy from your local stores when you can during this time. Some will mail items to you or allow for curbside pick-up. Our local favorite toy store has several options of getting amazing toys and games to you here.

Morning Work

Big kid will do his assigned school work, little kid will do his assigned schoolwork or something educational (in a boring, typical, let-mom-get-some-other-stuff-done way) including iPad apps, educational computer programs, reading, etc., Many of the sites below were recommended by our school and our kids were given free memberships/access codes. Maybe I’ll get more creative with this at some point, but for now, basic easy stuff it is.

Desperate times...Homebound, working from home & home schooling...here's our daily kids' scheduled for social distancing, flattening the curve (& staying sane).

Independent Play

After Day 1, I immediately switched this category header name to INDEPENDENT Play. Gah! This time in our household is going to be KID-DRIVEN, so mom can finish getting the stuff done she started but then got distracted from after having to help with too many spelling questions during morning work. Favorites in our house already are make stuff from tape and cardboard, play Exploding Kittens (with sibling), build things from the bazillion magnetic block toys we own.

Desperate times...Homebound, working from home & home schooling...here's our daily kids' scheduled for social distancing, flattening the curve (& staying sane).

Play Guitar
Play Piano
Make Up A Song
Play Bey Blades
Make Something With Tape
Make Something With Glue
Make Something With Toothpicks
Make Up A Dance Routine
Dance Like Crazy On The Couch
Create A Recipe
Write A Story
Write A Song
Make An Obstacle Course
Swing In the Hammock
Build A Fort
Design A Board Game
Magnatile Creations

Design A Card Game
Invent Something
Make Stuff With The Recycling
Design With Squigz On Window
Play Drums with Household Stuff
Create A Scavenger Hunt
Create A Treasure Hunt
Create W/ Brainflakes
Remote Control Car Course
Magnetic Poetry
Make Greeting Cards
Write Thank You Notes
Play Games On The Patio
Make Something With Yarn
Water Marble Play
Magic The Gathering
Plus Plus Creations
Quibix Creations


Plan to let kids alternate being in charge of lunch—AND cleaning up. This should be interesting. We have the time though, so let’s teach some life skills here.

Family Activity

This is the time I WILL pay total attention to my kids, turn off my news alerts, put away my laptop, and stop my anxiety-provoked organizing. When the kids complain earlier in the day that I’m not playing with them, I’ll remind them that I’m ALL theirs during our afternoon Family Activity time. Hikes in Fairmount Park, family obstacle courses down our hallways, potion creations in the kitchen, and I’m sure lots and lots and lots of card games. Hopefully, we’ll be motivated to use all those fancy Pinterest kid activities lists for some of this…or more likely, we’ll just hang out together and play with toys.

Desperate times...Homebound, working from home & home schooling...here's our daily kids' scheduled for social distancing, flattening the curve (& staying sane).

Make Cookies
Make A Cake
Fruit Taste Test Ranking
Obstacle Course
Create A New Recipe
Obstacle Course
Dance Party
Family Art Project
Make Music
Maze Racers

Family Castle Making
Plant Something
Aluminum Foil Art Project
Back Alley Frisbee
Decorate Windows For Spring
Family Marble Run
Scooter Outside
Outside Scavenger Hunt
Go For A Walk
Hike In The Woods

Chores & Chill

I am actually really excited about this one. The main reason I don’t make my kids do more chores during regular weekdays is TIME…it’s often faster and easier for me just to finish things up. Not now! Time is something we DO have. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, organizing, dinner prep — we’re doing a chore or two each day. And when we’re done we all get to chill.

Desperate times...Homebound, working from home & home schooling...here's our daily kids' scheduled for social distancing, flattening the curve (& staying sane).

Organize A Cabinets
Organize A Toy Bin
Fix Something
Clean Bathroom
Organize A Drawer
Organize Junk Drawer
Sweet Outside
Water Plants
Organize Laundry Shelf
Match Socks
Organize Books

Pick Up

Read In The Reading Nook
Read Outside
Read In A Fort
Swing in the Hammock
Facetime Someone
E-mail Someone
Google Hangout With Friends


Are we REALLY not supposed to do take out??? I sent my husband to the grocery store in a panic a couple nights ago, and he came home with toilet paper and canned peas. Have we EVER eaten canned peas in this household? Ever?? Come on, Babe. We’re going to have to regroup on this one. Emily, do you have any recipes using canned peas?

Evening Activity

I will admit, many nights this is going to involve the kids going upstairs to play video games, and the hubs and I enjoying some wine downstairs. I will repeat…MANY nights. Other nights I’m excited to destroy my kids in board games, throw some wild family dance parties, FaceTime hangouts with friends and family, and of course, rock out with my new Ukulele in the family band we’re obviously starting. World Cafe Live if you’re reading, you should probably book us now for fall.

Desperate times...Homebound, working from home & home schooling...here's our daily kids' scheduled for social distancing, flattening the curve (& staying sane).

Family Game Night
Family Dance Party
Family Cooking
Family Art Project
Family Movie Night
Family Video Game (Octodad, Just Dance, Mario Kart)
Family Audible
Paint Together

Facetime Family Friends
Facetime Family
Kids Play The Switch
Family Walk
Family Ice Cream Bar
Play-Doh Party
Magnatile Challenge
Read Outloud Together

We’ll use these brainstorming lists to fill in our schedule. My friends joke that as an introvert, a lover of routine, a purchaser of fabulous toys, and a TOTAL homebody, I’m pretty much built for social distancing. I’m definitely using a lot of the things I’ve already used on long airplane trips and long road trips. We’ll see how this goes.

I would absolutely love to hear how you guys are structuring or not structuring your days at home with your kids, plus any ideas we can add to our brainstorming clipboards. I am especially stuck with how to get these city kids outside. PLEASE help on this one! Feel free to join our Facebook group The Mom Edit Insiders for more chatter about all things “what we’re doing while we’re at home”. And let us know what else you guys want to see from us right now.

Let’s Give Some Home Organization Love To The Etsy Sellers

If you’re looking for some TOTALLY Pinterest-Worthy Schedule Organizing items and downloads, let’s give our Etsy independent sellers some LOVE right now!

I make a point of reminding myself several times a day that I’m SO VERY fortunate to be able to be at home right now spending this time with my children. Thank you to all of you out there who are NOT able to stay home during this time, but are doing the work to help keep us safe both physically and emotionally.

Definitely still working on an appropriate sign off…till then…



  1. I really enjoyed this read. My kids are older than yours and we actually homeschool (7th year here) but we don’t always have the best structure in the later afternoons/evenings if we are home. (Which is all the time now) My middle and my youngest rough-housing quickly turns to too much fighting. I think I am going to do some brain-storming with my kids and get some ideas flowing. Oh and getting kids outside: part of our routine is 20 minutes “recess” every homeschool day. Making it part of the routine means my kids fight it less because it’s what they always do. Of course, it’s still cold here but when it’s warm we often go biking in the evenings as a family.

  2. Thanks for the comment, RS. The brainstorming WITH my kids was definitely the best part…they had so many ideas and they’re much more bought in now. My son actually asked tonight for a copy of the schedule to put in his bedroom…and then promptly taped it up on his wall. I don’t think I realized just how much they are craving routine. I’m really struggling, though, with ways to get the kids outside living in the city and only having a small cement patio out back. The suggestion of recess time outside…even if it’s not a big excursion every single day… is a great idea. I guess even if they just run in the back alley or bounce the basketball out on the front sidewalk for a bit, it’s better than no fresh air at all. So strange all of this.

  3. Great team built schedule! I am wondering what outdoor recess games they like? At our elementary schools popular activities are 4-square (even 2-square in an infinity shape) with a “good” bouncy ball and hula hoops for spinning and constructing “hula huts”. At home my boys (under 5 yrs old) love hop scotch based on the book “Cardboard Kingdom”. Inside at night they love flashlight hide and seek.

    • SUSAN! You are a hero! 2 square in an infinity shape drawn out in chalk on our back patio is brilliant! My boys love flashlights too, but we’ve never done flashlight hide and seek. What a great idea. Thank you so much.

  4. Thanks for your suggestions, Linzi! Some ideas to add to your outside time: visual scavenger hunt (my kids are older and have phones, so they’ll take pictures), stomp rockets are my secret, city-living weapon for lots of fun at a park, Pokémon go, maybe?, spikeball or cornhole, walk your dog or favorite stuffy around the block. We’ve also been playing family basketball – one on one, horse, knock out. It gets all of us some cardio and it is so much fun! Some people in our neighborhood are saying no ball play but for us, it is an acceptable risk to play with family members and to wash hands after. And the mental health benefits are huge. My kids also had a video game date via Xbox live today with some friends and it was super successful. These are weird, weird times!

    • Ooooh. Of course! Stomp rockets! Thanks, Ellie. We have those in the bottom of some bin for sure! And I agree….we are good with playing basketball as a family…just finding a time that other people aren’t using the hoops is tricky. We may have to search for some secret courts!

  5. Great article Linzi! I too made a hand written, not Pinterest worthy schedule. My boys 7 and 3 are totally into it. Especially our morning meeting time when we talk about the weather, the date, how we are feeling , and my big guy sings us the months of the year, then we read a daily devotional. Hang in there!

  6. I’ve been laughing for a solid minute about your husband coming home with toilet paper and canned peas!! I came home Monday with the following items: lunch meat, string cheese, 4 cans of random veggies, toilet paper, Kleenex, apple chips and some vegan Brussels sprout puffs (which, btw, were Delish!!) Hang in there! I’m on day one of my corona-hiatus and I’m counting on this blog to keep me sane!

  7. Mine are 5 and 9 and our new routine is:
    Walk (outside at least 1 hr)
    Art or Cooking Project
    Tidy Up
    Quiet Time
    Educational Project (screen time allowed)
    Garden play (outside 1.5 hrs)
    Tidy Up
    Snack and Movies

    We love Go Find It from the Sensory Trust in the UK for a nature based scavenger hunt which makes walks more fun for small people used to having a destination.

  8. Thanks for this…we haven’t been as structured as this, but basically wake up, get dressed, breakfast brush teeth, while I’m making breakfast son reads for Language Arts something easy he can do on his own then he gets a walk or some down time while my husband and I start our morning routines. Then my husband and I between meeting split homework into time blocks and then walk outside with dog, lunch time block for school work…dinner/ family time 6 on then maybe finish something up that quick to do for homework.

    Usually we have our son check his school emails then write everything that needs to be done I. Agenda…we sound organized but again this is a work in progress as the whole country navigates this new normal for the near future

    • You sound TOTALLY organized! Work in progress for sure. I realized this morning that brush teeth probably should be part of our schedule too…for ALL of us! Whoops!

  9. Homeschooling mom to 6. If you find yourself with kids at home and their school hasn’t yet figured out a school from home schedule, I’d suggest just reading. Kids pick up so much from that alone. And definitely, definitely send them outside for some time! It benefits everyone. A short break from schooling is not going to mess them up or make them less smart in the long run. It’s a great time to teach them why we’re social distancing and that yes, they maybe don’t fit the profile of people getting sick, but it’s us helping others to prevent those at risk from getting sick. Good character lesson opportunities. I’d rather have a more character, less book smart kid any day.

  10. Lol, Linz – are they bright green canned peas (canned food has actually come a long way) or mushy brown canned peas? If they’re the former, I would actually toss them in a food processor with a can of white beans, a few glugs of olive oil, some salt and, if you have them, lemon juice and as many leafy herbs as you can round up. Bean dip! If they’re the mushy brown variety, I’d hide them in a kitchen sink soup situation. Obviously they’ll require no cooking, so just toss them in right at the end. OR scrap eating them all together and use them for some low weight/high rep curls. Seriously. My goal during all this is Michelle Obama arms. If not now, when…

    • I knew you would save me, Emily! They are generic brand “sweet peas”. They look disgusting. I’m thinking perfect for low weight/high rep curls for sure. But of course…you somehow made them sound delicious with the bean dip idea. Thanks, Em.

  11. Great article! I have 3 kids ages 6-11, and we set up a schedule together. Their school provided materials for 2 weeks and we will probably move to online learning after that, but this gets us started. We do 90 min of schoolwork in the morning, and 90 min in the afternoon. Outside time before lunch, art class after lunch. Outside/free time once afternoon schoolwork is done. One of the things saving us is online art classes (Mo Willems lunch doodles on YouTube and a daily “class” by McHarper Manor on facebook). Our zoo and our local nature center are making videos available, plus art museums around the world are sharing video tours.

    The hardest part is playing “homeschool cruise director” while trying to work my own job. Really hard. But I think we’ll get into the routine and my husband and I will figure out how to balance that soon enough.

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