How families are coping with this period of isolation

how families are coping

Are you still trying to carve out a routine for your family? (I am.)

Is your town or city in lockdown mode?

How are you managing with kids trying to do schoolwork at the dining room table while you are working from home?

Related: Developing a routine with your tween during the pandemic

Situations are different for every household right now. Life is uncertain, and a trip to the grocery store requires more planning than ever before.

I wanted to know how other families are coping during this pandemic. Reading other people’s stories is therapeutic for me. Understanding that everyone has to make due as best they can helps me realize that whatever we are accomplishing, it can be enough.

Five other moms shared their current scene with me. Each one has a different family situation, and has found ways to muddle through this potentially chaotic time. My ask was very open ended, so their stories are very unique.​​​​​​​

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Elizabeth of Guilty Chocoholic Mama is a stay at home mom of two older daughters.

Her girls are a junior in higschool and a junior in college. Both of them are at home right now, trying to learn-from-home. Elizabeth’s husband has a private law/insurance practice in a small town near them, and, where they are, insurance is considered an essential service.​​​​​​​

“Both my girls have online classes with school: my HS junior is dual-enrolled and has college classes that have moved online; my college junior’s on-campus classes have all moved online. This is tricky because now there are Zoom meetings and other elements that require high speed internet, which we do not have. (We are in a dead zone, and no one will come to us.)”

“My high schooler has been able to manage here at home, but my college student has had to go to both her dad’s office and her grandparents’ house, both of which have good internet. The option of going to my parents (both of whom are in excellent, uncompromised health) ended last week when our governor tightened restrictions. Now, she will have to go to her dad’s office several times a week to “take” her classes online.”

“When she’s at home, she’s almost constantly working on lesson plans (she’s an early childhood/early elementary ed major) and studying for tests. Her university has not eased up on expectations at all. My high schooler’s workload is somewhat less, but she still spends many hours in her room, on her bed, on her laptop, writing speeches for her communication class and creating “book talks” for her English class, etc.”

how families are coping
Photo credit: Elizabeth Spencer aka Guilty Chocoholic Mama

“Added to all this, both my girls teach several dance classes a week (and my high schooler takes many as well), and these are now all done via video. “Teaching” dance classes this way is an enormous amount of work. Both girls can go to their studio to record and upload, but that’s AFTER they have choreographed new material since, at this point, their June recital is still on. Again, this takes many hours each week and is all the more frustrating because they can see which of their students are watching the videos and “attending” class–and it’s almost none. So my girls are doing their jobs to the same level as before, but much more laboriously.”

“My job in all this is to help my people do their jobs. All this is very stressful for them, so anything I can do to help them do the things only they can do is my privilege. Since I’ve always been a stay-at-home mom, this doesn’t feel too much different from how it’s always been, except that my high schooler is home a lot more (which I love…she’s set to go to college 10 hours from home the fall after next).”

“As a homebody introvert, I am enjoying this time and actually dreading when I have to go back so many outside activities. And it is hard to watch my teen and college student struggle to do all their normal schoolwork and dance teaching work in ways that are so much harder now.”

“I am looking at this as a bonus time with them; they are maturing quickly, so I am well aware that I will never have this much time with them at home again. My teen and I in particular have been staying up late every night watching movies I’ve loved for a long time that she is now loving, and it is the best reason for not catching up on my sleep that I can think of.”

Fellow mom Lea has homeschool experience with her older children

“My family probably has one of the most diverse situations possible at the moment, at least where learning is concerned!”

  • My husband is “essential” and is still working outside the home. I’m out of work basically, since I worked p/t at the college.
  • I’m doing my f/t college classes all online from home now. I do a couple hours (or more) of school work every day to try to keep up, and have a LOT of emails to deal with group work. My EA work is via email – or attempting to be, my student is not the most responsive, and obviously no office work.
  • Oldest (17) is doing teacher-led online learning (1 hour per week teacher led, 2 hours individual per course) from his home school now, he is in grade 11(ish) at a local high school in Durham District School Board.
  • Middle (15) is doing teacher-led online learning. Her school was strictly online to begin with, so I feel that they never should have shut down, but they are still publicly funded so are following the public school mandate of 1 hour teacher-led and 2-hours individual learning per course. She is in grade 10 at a publicly funded virtual school out of Trillium Lakelands District School Board.
  • Youngest (13) only had March break week off, since he is doing strictly student-led learning using an online platform that is not teacher-led. It is called Time4Learning, and all my kids have used it in their public school (up to grade 8) years.

Her family’s routine now runs like this:

Everyone up by 9 (her daughter would sleep all day!), breakfast and first chores before school work begins.

“My 13 year old goes on the kids PC in the living room, the 17 year old is on his laptop in his room, and my daughter (15) and I are often in the basement to do ours. Sometimes I’ll sit on the couch with my laptop, or my daughter will go to her room if she has anything with sound.”

“The kids are mostly done by lunch – sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not, and we can spend the afternoon doing chores and just playing around now. The kids spend their time video chatting friends, reading, and video games. My youngest practices his hockey skills, and my daughter and I are also sewing.”

“My husband gets home around 3pm, and uses our daughter’s laptop to do some work he has for a course for work for a couple of hours.”

“The evenings are oddly quiet now – instead of rushing kids to activities all over the city, we are all home together. It’s kind of nice, honestly. We watch TV, or play cards together. Before all this, we were on the go Monday to Friday evenings, often not home until 9pm or later.”

Jill, a friend a fellow dance mom, who regularly runs a business from home, was also happy to share her current situation with me.

Find Jill at where she helps women & children eat healthfully without any anxiety, confusion, restriction or food preoccupation.

Jill’s daughters are the same age as mine (grade 3 and grade 6) and they all dance together – when we’re doing that sort of thing.

How is life rolling:

“We’re making the best of things. We have two kids who are feeling this situation in two very different ways and it’s a challenge to meet both of their needs but for the most part we’ve found a manageable flow to the day – some academic time, creative time, outdoor time, screen time, etc.”

how families are coping

“I love when I have slower days – when I’m able to actually focus my attention on the kids and help the day flow smoothly but the reality is that my husband and I are juggling work and trying to keep a business alive. Like many families, we’re torn between 3 full-time jobs (our jobs + kids) and so we’re just giving ourselves lots of space to make each day work as well as we can. It’s not always pretty but we’re getting to the end of the day in one piece so that’s something!”

Schooling the girls:

“We had a really fab little schedule for the first two weeks – each day the girls did a one page report (that covered science, art, and english) and then twice a week we worked with them on math for an hour. They loved it and we felt like we were covering a lot. It worked with our schedules.”

“Then their teachers started messaging with links to 10 different sites and Google Classrooms and it felt very overwhelming. I get it. They want to provide support and there are parents concerned about curriculum…they were also clear that we didn’t need to feel any pressure to do any of it, they were just offering up ideas – but it still felt like pressure. Self imposed? Sure. But an extra pressure, nonetheless.”

“Since then, we’ve found a new flow where the kids check in on official school work for an hour each, 3 times a week. We can make it work with the devices that we have and the time we have and everyone feels pretty good about it.”

“Overall, I think we really are enjoying the time at home together.”

“(I hate to say that because I know so many people are struggling…) It makes me want to reconsider the amount of time we spend running around from thing to thing during our regular weeks. We miss going out to restaurants, travelling to see friends and family, the energy of people in the downtown core – but we’re relishing family dinners together every night and slow weekends.”

“I worry about my business. I worry about returning to “regular” life. I worry about families who are struggling to make ends meet or to handle the stress. I worry about kids and adults who don’t have a safe place to land. I worry about not getting to see my parents or siblings this summer. I cry at weird times over nothing.”

“If I’m honest, our feelings about the situation seem to change hourly. If you were to ask me tomorrow, my answers would likely be completely different. It’s a mixed bag. But for now…we’re okay.”

Kristen from This Routine Life – mom of two

“I have two boys at home, age 5 (preschool) and 7 (first grader) and we live in central New York. It has been a huge challenge figuring out a schedule that works for all of us. “

“When this all started a month ago, I was eager to create a different schedule that would give us all what we needed – work time, school time, family time, down time, chore time, me time (for me, the mom), and I put together a few different block schedules to try to accommodate everything.”

Image credit: This Routine Life

“But ultimately, what I realized, is that right now we need easy peasy with a lot of flexibility and time for rest and play. Being such a structured person, it really pains me to have to change up a schedule, or veer away from what I had planned, but it was the only way I was going to be able to keep my sanity right now.”

“One thing that has worked really well for me is keeping the same morning and night routine that I had before our lives went on pause. I have a morning routine that I love and look forward to and my night time routine ensures I get enough restful sleep to conquer the next day. Sticking to these two routines really sets the foundation for some sort of normalcy in my day.”

Here is our current schedule, using time blocking:

4 am – 8 am – Morning Routine (wake up, work on blog, exercise, breakfast for the family, unload dishwasher and prep for dinner, daily chore, shower, and get ready for the day)

8:30 am – Fresh Air (kids go for a bike ride while I walk with them)

9 am – 10 am – Work Time (do some work for my part time job)

10 am – 12 pm  – School (help my first grader with his school work while also giving my preschooler little activities to do)

12 pm – 12:30 pm – Lunch

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm – School (finish up school work for the day with the boys)

1:30 pm – 3 pm – Work Time/ Kids Play Time (work some more for my job or my blog while kids play outside or inside depending on the weather)

3 pm – 5 pm – Down Time/Work Time (kids get screen time, usually Disney+ or they play on their tablets. More than not, I use this time to watch a show and relax for a bit. Then I do some more work)

5 pm – 7 pm – Dinner/Kids Quiet Play (I get dinner going while the kids play outside or independently in their rooms – usually with Lego’s. We eat dinner as a family, then clean up the kitchen while the kids clean up their assigned zones.)

7 pm – 9 pm – Bedtime Routine (My husband and I alternate putting the boys to bed. When it’s his night to put the kids to bed, I will spend an hour or so working on my blog, or just scrolling my phone. I start getting ready for bed around 8 pm. I do a little reading and then lights out at 9 pm). 

Kristen created a Ultimate Sanity Saving Guide for Covid-19, which I was fortunate to be a part of.

Ann Marie from

“I am probably in the minority here, but I am mostly enjoying the sudden departure from normal life.”

“I am an extroverted-introvert, so this is not crushing my spirit to be home with my people (who, in all fairness, I really like to be around).  We are a family of 6.  My husband works from home or travels, and I have been a stay-at-home mom since my 16-year-old was born.  Three more kids (ages 12, 11, and 7) later, I am still at home, but now blogging and making art again!”

“We have left behind a busy schedule of school activities, ice hockey, lacrosse, horseback riding, weekend travel, and general life.  What would have been a totally full calendar is now white space, and we are making the best of it.  We do not live close to family, so that absence has not been noticeable.  We are faceTiming them and chatting on the phone as normal.”

“Our school district already used a lot of technology like Chrome Books for high school, and iPads for the middle school, so the shift to online learning and being fully at home has not been as painful for me as it has been for other families.  And I have had so many homeschooling mom friends over the years, that it did not feel quite as intimidating.”

“While I think the novelty of being stuck at home is wearing off, everyone here has dealt with this situation really well, with the notable exception being my husband who is the extrovert’s extrovert and is going absolutely crazy being stuck home. The walls are starting to close in on him, I know.”

“The kids are doing pretty well.  They face time their friends, and play video games online with friends.  The girls play dolls and horses and run in the yard and sometimes yell at each other for breathing wrong, and the boys are able to play lacrosse and throw the ball and help one another and argue over nothing a fair amount.  But I have to say that they mostly love each other a whole lot and get along pretty well.”

“We have been taking lots of walks, watching movies, showing each other ridiculous memes and playing board games.  As for me, I love to read and paint and write. Since these are solo activities, I am in my glory right now.”

“I have to recommend taking advantage of the online art courses available, too! I have signed up for a few and I am loving them!  But, I got a wild idea to start hosting a Zoom Bible study, so that is my latest project to keep me focused on positive things during this time.  People need the message that God loves us and is in control.”

“When things get too noisy, I might try to hide in the bathroom with a book and ignore the chaos. And scroll Instagram.  It’s a humble life, but it’s ours.”

And finally, my story – working mom of two tween daughters

I asked to be laid off from my workplace so I could be at home with the girls. We knew my husband, who works in IT, would be working through most of this uncertain time, and we were right. He is able to stay home sporadically, but he’s not readily available – and there have been a LOT of “emergencies” while his clients figure out how to move their office workers to work-from-home employees. (He’s also not great at playing “teacher”, so I was the natural choice to support the girls’ learning efforts.)

Like Jill, in the beginning we were doing what interested us, and some math. Now the schools are expecting 5-ish hours of school work a week, as assigned. That’s about the amount of work we were doing before, so it’s working so far.

By 9am my expectation is that the girls have eaten and gotten dressed (this doesn’t happen every day – some days we do schoolwork in pjs) and are ready to learn.

At the beginning of the week we check in and find out what our educators are expecting for the week, and I print out all of Rose’s work. She usually has an english story, a french story, and a few pages of math. The stories have questions to complete, and she is to draw a picture to go along with it. This is grade 3 level work. Emma’s work is more virtual, so she is responsible for getting it done online with minimal interference from me. (Though I have to remind her to do it/go over what the ask is from the teacher.) Her classroom – grade 6 – has been using a Virtual Commons throughout the year, so the teacher uploads of video of work required for the week, where to find the work, and how to “hand it in.”

how families are coping

The expectation is that I can share pictures or videos of Rose’s work on an online platform so the teacher can see she is doing the work. I do that, but I think about others who may not have that ability. Emma’s work is done inside her school profile and shared with the teacher at all times so I don’t have to do as much there (besides nag her to get it done.)

If I had to be working, there is no way we could do as much at-home learning as we are doing now. We spend at least an hour every morning working, and we also do the fun things like baking and cooking, gardening, and watching some educational videos or shows.

We were going to dance classes four nights a week before this period of isolation. Now we are staying active by getting outside, learning to ride bikes, and doing some dance work through YouTube videos. At this point they are still expecting to do a June performance, but I’m doubtful. Regardless, we spend at least an hour every afternoon being active, and doing barre work a few times a week.

How families are coping with this period of isolation

Cooking dinner every night is an experience for me. We are spending more money on groceries, but we haven’t had take out in weeks! (We normally get delivery or take out 3 times a week.) And somehow the kids are eating what we put in front of them. Wonders never cease.

I am loving this time. Obviously the virus and associated quarantine is not at all good, but being able to be at home feels good for me. (There are definitely days when I crave quiet/alone time, but I can usually carve something out to keep me sane.)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

How are your days working out? Do you have a great routine that’s working for you? I’d love to read about it. Drop a comment below and inspire other parents struggling to make some sort of routine work for them.


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  1. These are great stories! I feel so grateful that my husband and I are able to work from home during this time. I know many have lost jobs or had hours cut dramatically. My freshman in college is doing all online classes now and continues to work at Target some. My 5th grader is doing online learning and multiple conferences with his teachers every week. I feel like we have adjusted well. I have transitioned to only doing Sam’s pick up orders and having groceries delivered from Hyvee through Shipt. I don’t have time to stand in line to get into the store to do my grocery shopping.

  2. Thanks so much for including me in this post! I agree with a lot of the mom’s that I’m actually enjoying this forced time at home with the family. I, too, already dread the thought of having to get back to commitments outside the house – though I do miss getting together with family and friends. I enjoyed seeing the routines of other families, and how they are making this time work for them.

    1. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your home life with me. The more we can share that “normal” isn’t a thing during this time, the more we can perhaps empower others to do just what they need to to get through it.
      Thanks again!

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