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A soldier smiling at his toddler.

Parent Survival Kit

Parent Survival Kit
A mother with her baby and toddler sitting on the couch together. The three of them are looking at an iPad.
(Credit: Unsplash)

Keeping children on a routine can be very helpful in maintaining your sanity while social distancing. We already have part of our schedules in place when waking up to get ready for our day and when we get home from work, school etc. that include homework, playtime, meals, hygiene and bedtime routine. Now is the time to try and extend that schedule to include the middle of the day, which can be frustrating for some parents who depend on school/child care to maintain routine for majority of their child’s day.

Here is a sample schedule that can be adjusted to meet he needs of your family. This is also a great opportunity to strengthen your bond with your children by exploring their interests and having meaningful conversations (age appropriate of course) about important topics.

Image of a Covid-19 Daily Schedule example for children.
                          Before 9:00AM, Wake Up. Eat Breakfast, make your bed, get dress, put PJ's in laundry.
                          9:00AM to 10:00AM, Morning Walk. Family walk with the dog, Yoga if it's raining.
                          10:00AM to 11:00AM, Academic Time. NO ELECTRONICS, Soduku books, flash cards, study guide, Journal.
                          11:00AM to 12:00AM, Creative Time. Legos, magnatiles, drawing, crafting, play music, cook or bake, etc.
                          12:00AM, Lunch.
                          12:30PM, Chore time. A - wipe all kitchen table and chairs. B - wipe all door handles, light switches, and desktops. C - wipe both bathrooms - sinks and toilets.
                          1:00PM to 2:30PM, Quiet time. reading, puzzles, nap.
                          2:30PM to 4:00PM, Academic time. ELECTRONICS OK, Ipad games, Prodigy, Educational show.
                          4:00PM to 5:00PM, Afternoon fresh air. Bikes, Walk the dog, play outside.
                          5:00PM to 6:00PM, Dinner.
                          6:00PM to 8:00PM, Free TV Time. Kid showers times 3.
                          8:00PM, Bedtime. All kids.
                          9:00PM, Bedtime. All kids who follow the daily schedule and don't fight.
An example Daily Schedule. (Credit: Nesca Newton)
Make Learning Fun
Some of the best memories are projects you do with my mom and dad

  • Be Creative
  • Look on Pinterest, Youtube and other social media sites for ideas
  • Build memories and projects that children can take back to school for show and tell
  • Share what they are doing on Social Media

Online Learning Resources

Virtual Libraries and Tours

Use social media apps to communicate

If you start now communicating by the popular apps with your children now...

  • These are habits that will continue when they get older.
  • Will make it easier to communicate when separated or deployed.
  • You probably will not have to yell for them to come to eat...
Get Creative
  • Teach your children how to sew; JOANN is giving away free material to make masks for hospitals.
  • Write letters, cards draw pictures for folks in Nursing Homes.
  • Now is a good time to clean out closets for charity.
  • Have your kids do extra chores to earn money for their favorite charity.
What Spiritual Values do you want your children to know?
  • Importance of Prayer and Meditation
  • Gratitude: Have them write down three things everyday of what they are grateful for...Record them and post on social media, or start a family journal of gratitude.
What do they need to know?
  • Lessons about their ancestors.
  • Stories about you and your spouse.
  • Stories about them:
    Start a journal with them, let them draw out the stories to illustrate and create their own book with they stories they will write.
Make Chores an Adventure
A young child helping in the garden by planting garden plants.
(Credit: Unsplash)
Bonus Points

Make a chart with each chore and the amount of bonus points they get upon completion.

  • Prizes, money, fun stuff they can get for the bonus points.
  • Make it challenging but not too difficult.
Time to plant that garden.
  • Outside chores in the sunshine is great medicine.
  • Make containers from recycled material to plant herbs and smaller vegetables.
  • Grow seedlings in small cups to be transplanted and use recycled containers to catch rainwater for the plants.
Take care of the whole family - Mindfulness Apps
Stop, Breathe & Think

With an emphasis on fun activities and meditations, this app is designed to help kids with focus, quiet, peaceful sleep, and processing emotions. Your little one will learn mindful breathing and the importance of checking in with herself. She'll also win stickers for completing "missions." Ages 5-10; download for free.

Thrive Global

Here’s another skill set from Amazon Echo. If your kid needs help quieting his mind during the day, he can say, "Alexa, open Thrive" and ask for a meditation. On nights when he can’t sleep, a "power down" will do the trick—and keep screens out of the bedroom. Download for free.

Smiling Mind

This app offers mindfulness sessions, developed by a team of psychologists, that start with a quick series of questions to focus the mind followed by simple, easy-to-follow meditation exercises. Download for free.

Super Stretch Yoga

Move, play and breathe as Super Stretch introduces you to his friends and their yoga poses. Super Stretch is your guide who takes you on your journey. Download for free.

Parents...Take care of yourselves.

The true definition of self-care is actually very broad. Self-care is any action that you do to improve your health. According to the National Institute of Mental Illness (NAMI), all self-care habits fall under the following six umbrella categories:

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Social
  • Professional

A few examples of self-care that you might not have considered are brushing your teeth, eating balanced meals, getting regular exercise, or taking medication for a physical or mental illness. All of these practices fall under one of the above categories and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. These and other self-care activities can help you feel your best so you can accomplish everything you need to do.

Parents often focus so much on their children that they have no time for themselves. Sometimes, it might be hard to carve in time for something as simple as getting dressed—let alone anything that improves social or professional health. But when you take time to care for yourself every day, you’re looking out for your loved ones just as much as you are caring for yourself.

Why Self-Care Is Important For Everyone, Including (and Especially) Parents

In many cases, a parent might be neglecting their needs because they worry that doing so is selfish or self-absorbed. Here are a few signs that you are stressed or overwhelmed and in serious need of self-care:

  • Change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Headaches, dizziness, or stomach upset
  • Feeling unsafe, unhappy, guilty, vulnerable, anxious, or lonely
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawn or irritated, crying or anger outbursts
  • Because self-care and mental health are connected, neglecting one can have a negative impact on the other.
  • Sometimes, parental stress or burnout may become severe enough that you can’t overcome it on your own. In this case, one of the best self-care steps you can take is seek counseling or another form of professional help.
  • A professional can help you figure out how to practice self-care in manageable ways.

Self-Care Tips and Ideas for Parents

Try these five self-care tips and activities for adults so you don’t have to sacrifice your health to maintain your busy parenting schedule:

  1. Sleep is a key component of both emotional and physical self-care, yet so many parents neglect it. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep every night, if possible
  2. Use this self-care assessment from NAMI (PDF) to help you discover which elements of self-care you’re lacking and pinpoint how to improve.
  3. Try to do one thing every day that improves your mental or physical health in some way. You could, for example, go on a walk after dinner or call a loved one you haven’t seen in a while.
  4. Check out this list of the best self-care apps that make a few minutes of well-being just a tap away.
  5. Self-reflection is also a crucial part of self-care, so brainstorm what you’re currently missing and how to best take care of yourself. Put together a self-care journal and reflect every day on how you took care of your health.
Additional Mental Health Resources
The mention of any brands, stores, or websites are for example purposes only and does not imply an endorsement from the unit, command, or DoD.