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Homebound: Managing the Monotony and Mayhem

Quick tips to keep sane during quarantine.

Source: fizkes/iStock

The dog is barking, the dishwasher’s leaking, and your home-schooling attempt feels like an epic fail. The novelty of being at home all together wore off about a week ago. It’s time to acknowledge that this situation isn’t going to end as quickly as you had hoped. Temporary circumstances have quickly emerged as the new normal.

The key to keeping it together during these difficult times includes a focus on what you can do, along with a little bit of thinking out of the box.

Why a Little Routine Goes a Long Way

The first step in ensuring some sanity while stuck at home is to create a weekday routine. The flexibility of that routine, however, will be based on your individual family. Some tweens require a minute-by-minute breakdown to keep them on course. Other tweens are best served following a sequential task list with rank-ordered priorities. If you are unsure which approach would work best for your tweens, test out both.

Another important aspect is that weekdays and weekend days look different. This is imperative because it breaks up the monotony that can set in if every day is the same. Regardless of what format you use, all daily routines should include wake-up and bedtime rituals, meals, schooltime, physical activity, and of course, down/playtime.

The Importance of Modeling and Maintaining Self-Care

The urge to sit around in your pajamas may be strong these days. Remember, however, your kids take their cues from you. Toward that end, the importance of managing self-care cannot be emphasized enough. Make sure your tweens are showering regularly and attending to personal hygiene. It’s fine to allow them to trade school uniforms for tees and jeans, or jeans for sweat pants. Clarify that brushing teeth and hair are not optional events.

Physical Activity: Don’t Ask, Tell!

Exercise is an essential avenue to release unwanted stress. When your tweens are sitting around inside all day, the motivation to get up and about can be greatly diminished. Exercise promotes both healthy bodies and minds. Make exercise a requirement, not an option. Even if your tweens give you pushback, once they get moving, they will be glad they did. When/if possible, encourage them to get outside. Fresh air can have a calming effect.

Learn to Let It Go

Close quarters can create much chaos. Bantering between siblings can quickly turn to bickering, which can ultimately lead to full-scale blow-outs. Tensions are high, and skin is thin. In order to keep the calm, you are best served by letting what you can go. This does not mean that you throw out all house rules. Focus on finding ways to reinforce positive behaviors.

One popular concern these days is that tweens may be spending a lot of time in their rooms. Keep in mind that when stuck at home, it maybe be challenging to claim a space. Counteract this by setting rules to draw them out. Insist, for example, that all meals be consumed in the appropriate place, such as the kitchen or dining room. Create daily school check-ins in a common area.

Another widespread concern is the appropriate wake-up time for tweens. One benefit of distance learning is that tweens no longer need to get up so early. Instead, they can roll out of bed, run through their morning routines, and be ready to learn in half the time. Parents are grappling with identifying the ideal wake-up time. Why not let tweens sleep at least a little bit later? This is an upside to being out of school. In an effort to keep connected to friends, technology use is certainly on the rise.

For many tweens, the lack of social interaction with peers is seemingly unbearable. Parents should, of course, continue to monitor their tween’s technology use, but may want to consider easing up on time limits.

Adding Something Extra

While ritual and routine help create calm, the monotony of living life at home can result in feelings of boredom and even hopelessness. Researchers working with astronauts at the Space Station and in isolated research facilities in the Antarctic have noted the importance of staving off boredom.

One way to add excitement in your home is to assign daily themes to certain days of the week. This will keep your kids engaged and give them something to look forward to. For example, program in a block of time one day a week for Community Giveback. Work with your kids to come up with ways they can use their time to volunteer. Whether it’s sewing masks for vulnerable individuals in your community or simply sending emails or doing video calls with isolated, more vulnerable neighbors, there are dozens of ways your kids can help others from the comfort of their own home. You can also assign specific activities to certain days of the week: Clean-Up Monday, Baking Tuesday, Crafting Wednesday, Saturday Family Game Night, the list is endless.

Also, add in occasional themed days, such a Crazy Hat Day or Dress as Your Favorite Celebrity Day. Encourage friends and family to join in the fun via video chat and/or pictures and videos. Research and celebrate holidays. For example, April 22 is Earth Day, April 26 is National Pretzel Day, April 29 is International Dance Day, or create your own.

At a time when so many kids have suffered disappointments due to the COVID-19 crisis cancelations, we all need things to look forward to.

We are all living under unprecedented conditions. The inability to predict how long we will be homebound can be both frustrating and frightening. With a little insight and ingenuity, we can capitalize on creating a calm and caring environment. Focusing on ways to ease the burden is as easy as creating avenues to look forward while steering away from what has been lost.


Koerth-baker, M. (2013, July 16). Danger! This Mission to Mars Could Bore You to Death! Retrieved from…