Home Motherhood A “Schedule Free” Approach to Social Distancing with Young Kids at Home

A “Schedule Free” Approach to Social Distancing with Young Kids at Home


The Coronavirus is real and it’s scary. But most importantly, it’s here.

And what about “social distancing?” It matters. We’re taking it seriously. I hope you will, too.

Is social distancing & hunkering down at home extreme? Yes. Is cancelling everything extreme? Yes.

Is extreme what it’s going to take to (hopefully) curb Covid-19? Yes.

Is social distancing with kids tough? Yes…and no.

I’ll admit that at first I thought we’d have play dates with friends who are “being careful like us.” I thought wrong. That’s not enough. It won’t work. It won’t inhibit the spread of this beast of a virus.

Then I thought we’d still go to playgrounds. Wrong again. Did you know this virus can survive for days on plastic & stainless surfaces? Aka slides & monkey bars?

So then what?

Where are we during social distancing?

I’ll tell you where.

We are at home.

We are on the porch.

We are riding scooters on our dead end street.

We are in the patch of grass in front of our house because we don’t have a yard.

We are at the empty beach (we feel very blessed to have this option). And if everyone else suddenly has the same idea and it’s not an empty beach, we will go right back home.

We are snuggled up on the couch binging movies.

Or in my big bed.

We are on a bike ride.

We are on a picnic in the middle of the living room.

We are in a couch fort.

Above all, we are together.

And what are we doing during social distancing?

I’m not a homeschooling Mom. And I’m not a teacher. I’m a regular Mom (but I’d like to think I’m a cool Mom). I know sticking to a set daily schedule is a sanity-saver for many of you Mamas. Especially maybe for all of you who have jobs outside of the most demanding job of all—Motherhood.

I am a SAHM. I am thankful for that more than ever in a time like this. I know how lucky I am not to have to worry about another job right now.

And I know I might be in the minority on this, but we’re not having a schedule. I don’t really want a routine that I have to follow. We stick to a schedule(ish) when things are “normal,” but I’m throwing all that out the window right now because things are definitely not normal. Not for my kids and not for me. We are winging it and just taking each day as it comes.

So, what are we doing during this self-quarantine? I’ll tell you what.

We are doing nothing.

We are watching all our favorite shows & movies. Over & over again.

We are slowing down.

We are having pajama days. Probably every day, if I’m being honest.

We are blowing bubbles.

And when we run out of bubbles, we will play with chalk.

And when we run out of chalk, we will trace sticks in the dirt.

We are finger painting. On paper and on our bodies.

social distancing with kids painting bodies with finger paint

Taking body paint to a new level.

We are attempting to do crafts, even if that just means gluing together pieces of paper.

We are having dance parties.

We are turning out all the lights and playing with flashlights.

We are making rock, leaf, and stick collections.

We are having tickle fights.

We are playing in the water, whether in a kiddie pool or with our hose (that’s broken, by the way, but the kids don’t seem to care).

We are taking long baths during the middle of the day.

We are reading books together.

We are making our own books.

We are coloring.

We are cooking easy things together.

We are talking to each other. And not just “how was your day” talk. We are talking about our favorite things. Funniest memories. I’m finding out if their favorite color or best friend has changed. Or about where they think the sun is on foggy days. We are talking about the things that are important in their lives, hearts and minds. Even if it’s why their Curious George stuffed animal doesn’t have the 3 sprigs of hair he has on every show and book illustration (this was a very real & very serious conversation in our house recently).

We are eating all the fresh stuff until it runs out and then we will eat all the processed food imaginable.

We are playing.

social distancing play with your kids

So often as Mothers we beg for more time. “If only there were more hours in a day.” “If I could just get this done then I could sit down and play with them.” “If I can knock out these errands then we can hang out together later.”

Time is the one thing we never have enough of. And, self-quarantining and social distancing aren’t necessarily giving us more time. On the one hand, we have much less time to do all the things we need and want to do because we have zero breaks. Our kids are with us 24/7. And that’s super stressful. And hard. But on the other hand, we have more time to do all the things we always wish we could do with our kids. Things like playing.

School is cancelled. Activities are cancelled. We aren’t going out to eat or to the store. No more Target runs. The daily distractions have been temporarily removed from our lives. So in this sense, we do have more time.

So during this social distancing, stay home.

Stay separate from the rest of the world right now. We often want to do that anyways, and then when we get the chance we scoff at the idea.

I’m not scoffing. And I’m not sure I’d say I’m embracing it, either. Because all of this social distancing and self-quarantining comes from a scary place. But I am abiding by it. Because it’s the right thing to do. So I’m making the best of it.

Okay, so maybe that is embracing it now that I think about it.

We are doing everything I listed above. On our own time. Whenever we feel like it. Well, really whenever I feel like it. One day we might watch 6 movies in a row. The next we might be The Crafty McCraftersons.

Mamas, there is no right way to handle social distancing and self-quarantining during this Covid-19 outbreak.

Well, actually there is one right way: STAY HOME.

But other than that, do it however you want. Adhere to a daily schedule to save your sanity. Or throw out the schedule to save your sanity.

In addition to everything above, here are some super simple, do-able things for you to do with your young children (mine are 5 & 3 for reference) while yall are holed up at home for the foreseeable future. We will rinse & repeat these as often as we can. And want.

-Let them take long baths during the day

Seriously, let the kids take a bath when they wake up. Or mid-morning. Or in the afternoon. Don’t save it for bedtime like you usually do. And let them take a long one. Like reallyyy long. It doesn’t even matter if you bathe them. They may not need a bath. That’s not even really what it’s about. Long baths are one of my favorite mom hacks because it keeps them confined and happy and safe (obviously do not take your eyes off them). My kids love not being rushed in the bath and I love being able to sit down for over an hour and not do anything.

*Another of my favorite mom hacks is to give them a popsicle in the bath because they think it is the coolest thing ever and there is ZERO mess.

social distancing popsicle in bath

-Say “Yes” to things you normally wouldn’t

Better yet, suggest things you’re normally not down with. If you’ve ever wished you were more of a “fun mom” here’s your chance. Let them paint their bodies (with these) and then throw them in the shower. Dessert for breakfast? Sure. Making decorations for the house & taping them up everywhere? Watch them beam with pride. Going outside to play in pajamas? Yep. And stay in yours, too. Playing in the rain? Definitely, and teach them how to catch rain drops in their mouth.

-Play ice cream shop

The kids love it when I invite them to the “ice cream shop.” I put all the toppings in little bowls and let them build their own ice cream sundae.

-Play restaurant

This is something my husband did with our kids one night when I was out, and I never heard the end of it. They LOVED it. He pretended to be the waiter and took their orders (“Tonight we’re serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or chicken and tater tots. What would you like?”) and served them. They do it all the time now. He writes their order on a little notepad and they think it’s the greatest.

-Paint rainbow bread

This is something I only discovered recently and now it’s our new favorite thing. Get this natural food coloring delivered from Amazon (or use what you have on hand). Put the food coloring in little bowls of milk. Let them paint the bread. Either put butter & sugar on it (sugar toast, anyone?) and put it in the oven or toast it first and then spread honey on top. This is such a fun activity and doesn’t waste any of your necessary food stash (you eat the bread, and you can even let them drink the milk or make oatmeal or add it to mac & cheese, etc.)

-Gather collections

Anything can become a collection. Seriously. Anything. Pinecones, rocks, sticks, leaves, flowers. Put out some large bowls for their collections and continue to add to them during the social distancing duration. You’ll be surprised how proud they are of their collections.

-Paint rocks

And on the same token, painting rocks is one of our favorite things to do ever. I have a beautiful wooden bowl filled with their painted rocks. It’s on display at all times and I love that. Our favorite way to paint rocks is with these tempera paint crayons. They are so easy to use and so washable. They can paint the same rocks over and over again.

-Let them cook with you

If I was a Chef, I’d be something along the lines of Chef Boyardee. So let’s be real—I’m talking about doing simple things together. Like baking cookies (I use the break apart ones—that’s how simple I’m talking). One of our very favorite things to do together is make pizza biscuits. I used to do it with my grandmom and they are the most delicious things ever.  And they’re so easy & exactly what they sound like: take a can of biscuits, split them in half, add sauce + cheese + toppings (we just do black olives), cook them and then eat every last one.

social distancing making pizza biscuits

-Let them watch TV

And don’t feel guilty about it. Honestly, I think TV is exactly what kids need sometimes. You like to binge watch TV. So why shouldn’t they like it, too?

-Let them work out with you

If you exercise, carve out the time to do it. Go on a bike ride, walk, run and take the kids. No, it won’t be like normal. Nothing about any of this is normal. I do yoga, and though it is definitely not relaxing or meditative to do it at home with kids climbing all over me, I can get it done-ish.

social distancing with kids yoga at home with mom

-Have a long daily quiet time

As long as possible. If your kid naps, great. If your kid doesn’t nap anymore, enforce quiet time. YOU NEED THIS TIME. Sure they do, too. But not as much as you.

My son “is trained” (but for real tho) to stay in his room for quiet time while his sister naps. That time to me is a life saver. I can rest or I can scroll the internet or I can do all the laundry. Whatever I want to do. It’s MY time. You need to make a section of the day be YOUR time, Mama. Otherwise, you will be burnt out in about oh, I don’t know, a day. (In general, this is my Mom burnout cure.)

If your kids won’t stay in their room then don’t feel guilty about putting on a movie or the 90 minute “5 Little Monkeys” compilation and telling them they get their “own time.” I have more success when I do it that way & make it fun for them versus when I say “I have to work, I need you to give me some time to myself.”

But usually I end up saying both because #momlife.

Mamas, hang in there. Social distancing with kids is hard, no matter how you cut it.

As with most things in life, a lot of making it through this with your sanity intact boils down to perspective. Sometimes we have to force a perspective shift.

And just for the record, making it through this with your health intact boils down to respecting social distancing and the seriousness of Covid-19.

We need do the best we can, not just for ourselves. But for the sake of everyone else, too.

If there is ever a time when what you do matters, it’s now.

People might say it’s an overreaction. But let me say this. We might not know if we overreact, but we will certainly know if we underreact.

Stay safe and sane, Mamas. And smart. ♥️

Check on the Moms with Young Kids (their quarantine life is hard, too)

Others have worn masks daily for years. Now it’s our turn.

Want more on Motherhood? —> Are you a SAHM? Are you Scared to Fly since Becoming a Mom? Or worried about your child choking? (my child choked)

Like this post? Join MAMA’s email list to get more like this. All things MOMishthe MOMents + MOMfessions, & all the Mama Must-Haves!

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Sabrina, your comment means so much to me. I’m so glad you read this & so glad it helped give you that perspective shift we all need right now. And thank YOU for the validation that it’s okay to just “be” during these crazy, scary times. All this is so hard as it is, I think we’ve got to go easy on ourselves right now. Hang in there, Mama. โค๏ธ

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