Family Scheduling During Remote Learning

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Now that we are a couple weeks into remote learning here in Montgomery County, do you still struggle with trying to manage your family’s schedule? Balancing obligations of parents who are working (some from home, some back at worksites) with class requirements can be tricky and overwhelming to say the least.

Family meetings are a great way to help improve your family flow. Consider starting the conversation by evaluating what has worked since school started and what hasn’t. Make sure everybody gets a chance to share, and listen with an open mind. Consider using a large weekly calendar that you can post in a central location.

Together, decide on what things are priorities in your family, and start building your weekly schedule with those things. For example, are there mandatory live sessions your children must attend? Do the parents have set times they must be at work, or required meetings and other obligations? Write all of those mandatory commitments in one color ink, like red.

Then decide what other activities are important and necessary for your family, although they might not be mandatory or time-bound. For example, laundry still has to be done if you want to wear clean clothes! Other important activities may include things like household chores, sports or music practice, church activities. Identify these activities as a family, and consider using another color (like blue) to write them on your family calendar.

Although every family will have different scheduling priorities, there are some things ALL families should consider adding into their schedules:

  • Brain Breaks. Kids and adults of all ages should NOT be expected to be online in front of a computer for hours on end or even engaged in reading activities away from the screen. Take time during your family meeting to discuss some fun ways you can take quick breaks. Think of things people can do with their hands- arts and crafts, Lego’s or even playing with the dog!
  • Physical Activity. Make sure you plan times for your family to be active. Taking a walk, or going for a bike ride helps everyone’s moods and provides huge benefits to our bodies. Physical activity also helps our brains engage better and makes learning a more positive experience!
  • Meal Times. If your family struggles with choosing what to make for dinner every night, eliminate that daily frustration by planning the week’s meals at the beginning of the week. Depending on your kids’ ages and abilities, you can assign each of them a day, and make them responsible for that day’s menu (within budgetary and nutritional guidelines of course!)
  • Family Time. Although sometimes it feels like our families are together all the time, when was the last time you were together on purpose? Make sure you plan fun family bonding activities and include those on a schedule you’re willing to commit to. Prioritizing family relationships throughout the pandemic will help each member thrive.
  • Schedule Adult Time. We would never let our phone batteries drain down to three percent, right? So why do we let ourselves get so worn out and run on empty? Make sure you include time on your family calendar to recharge each person’s battery – and stick to that commitment.

Most importantly, give yourself, your children, and even their teachers a whole lot of extra grace. Things aren’t always going to go perfectly, but every single day we can strive to do things a little better than the day before.

For more information about building family connections, or balancing life during COVID-19, please contact Rhonda Peters, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Montgomery County Center at rtpeters@ncat.edu. Check out the Balancing Life series offered in collaboration between North Carolina and Virginia Extension programs.