Of Course Planner Queen Erin Condren Has Incredible Advice for Scheduling Kids

As a businesswoman and mother of four high school seniors, I’m familiar with the juggle of balancing career with time spent with family. That precarious balance was completely upended with the global events related to the coronavirus.

As I navigate my new normal, checking in with my (mostly remote) team, making daily to-do lists to stay sane, and overseeing the schoolwork of four severely disappointed teens who likely won’t get to walk in their graduation ceremony, I’m reminded of the power of positivity and productivity.

My routine looks a lot different than it did only a week ago. My children are old enough to be responsible for staying on top of their assignments and online learning, but we come together for breakfast to align our goals and encourage one another. I know many parents with younger kids need more tools, and I’m so grateful to have a platform and an incredible community to come together to share tips and resources for coming out of this on the other side.

Below are just a couple of my top recommendations for adjusting to having your kids learning from home. I hope they help provide just a bit of additional structure in an incredibly uncertain time. We’ll get through this together.

Tips for Scheduling

Check out how your team is setting meetings and schedules. That’ll help you determine when you’ll be able to get the most work done. I have so much admiration for parents, especially moms everywhere right now. (And I think we all are in awe of teachers even more now!) Based on how my team is working, the mornings tend to be the most productive.

Make sure your children know what their duties are. Explain that they’re “working” just like you are. It instills a sense of responsibility.

Strategically schedule your kid’s schoolwork that requires assistance when you’re not in meetings or doing anything time-sensitive. My team (many of whom are incredible working mothers with youngsters) are creating daily schedules for their children, broken down into half-hour and hour-long blocks of time. We’re trying to keep our meetings to 20-minute and 45-minute increments so parents have time to instruct and set their kid up for the next activity.

Maintain a routine. This is key if you have younger kids. Ensure that even if the subjects they’re learning change, they are accustomed to waking up at the same time, eating breakfast at the same time, getting dressed, and getting some form of exercise and air (even if it’s just a lap around the backyard or front lawn).

Don’t let kids fall into a pattern of staying in pajamas or not making their bed. Keep them behaving as if they’re still waking up and going to school. This will also help you differentiate weekends from weekdays, when they can sleep later and have more free time.

If you have multiple kids, enlist the help of an older sibling. Ask them to serve as your “teacher’s assistant.” It might give them a sense of responsibility and encourage them to lend a hand.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. This is the biggest mistake moms make in general! If some concept wasn’t fully explained or learned on Monday, don’t beat yourself up; add it back into Tuesday’s schedule. Accept that this is not ideal and lean into your community.

How to Create a Homeschool Routine*

Add academic due dates to a monthly calendar. If you don’t have access to a paper or digital one, you can use a notebook or piece of paper to draw your own. Referencing your child’s learning instructions, begin to add due dates for school assignments, projects, quizzes and tests.

Jot down other important dates on the calendar. These should be your personal deadlines (e.g., reschedule dentist appointment, work conference call, clean house, etc.). By doing this, you’ll get a big-picture view of everything you have on your plate so you can make a realistic plan to stay productive without being overwhelmed.

Break down your monthly calendar into a weekly schedule. You can use a weekly planner, weekly schedule pad, notebook or piece of paper to map out the tasks for each day of the week. For example, if on your calendar you have “online quiz” each Friday of the month, you can add that to your weekly schedule and include study sessions and quiz prep on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Divide your weekly schedule into daily tasks and to-dos. Don’t try to include granular details in the weekly schedule. Keep it simple and save the extra info for daily to-do lists and lesson plans. Once you’ve established a strong foundation of monthly and weekly planning, your daily planning can be as simple as a checklist of things to accomplish. That way, you’re able to adjust any activities for the day to keep up with rapidly evolving current events.

These tips originally appeared on erincondren.com.