With COVID-19 now spreading throughout our communities, federal leaders are instructing people to stay home to “flatten the curve” of the virus. This is an unprecedented time and one that has been particularly difficult on parents. To date, 39 states have closed schools statewide to slow the spread of COVID-19. With 41.7 million public school students home from school across the nation, parents are now tasked with entertaining and educating their children while still managing their work lives remotely. This is an incredible burden with no definitive end in sight. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Even for students who were already taking all virtual classes, social distancing can be a challenge. The sudden shift to eliminate all social interactions and stay home as much as possible is not an easy transition for teenagers. Personally, I am relying on several practical strategies to help me manage the day to day stress of isolation plus juggling my work and family life. I hope these strategies help you, too. 1) Establish routines. Develop a plan to structure your day for you and your child. This will add purpose and meaning to consecutive days at home together. The days can seem long right now, so it might even help to focus on getting through one hour at a time. Schedule time for reading, studying and breaks in advance so that everyone knows what to expect. If the days feel long, start small and just focus on getting through one hour at a time. Check out this great example of how to manage your child’s day while at home: https://www.concrete.k12.wa.us/daily-schedule-example/. 2) Be mindful of screen time. Now that we are being directed to stay at home, it’s tempting to spend hours sitting on the couch watching Netflix. It’s also easy to get absorbed in the news that is constantly coming our way. But being mindful of how much time we spend on our phones and streaming entertainment can benefit the entire family. Consider limiting your child’s screen time, or giving them breaks from screens to let them play, read, or exercise. Minimizing consumption of the news will also help to prevent the anxiety many of us are experiencing. 3) Exercise. Speaking of exercise, this is an important component of staying healthy and happy throughout the isolation phase of COVID-19. Yes, we should not go to the gym or participate in contact sports, but a walk or a run outside can lift our spirits and provide us and our children with the clarity we need to muster this challenge. There are also great online home workout options for yoga, Zumba or hip hop. Or turn up the music and have a family dance party! Watch this video on YouTube 4) Connect with friends and family (virtually). Although we are being asked to stay home, we can still call, write letters, text and video chat with friends and family members doing the same thing. This is a great opportunity to write the thank you notes you’ve been putting off or dropping a note in the mail to a relative who lives far away. Connecting with friends and family reminds us that we are not alone. We are in this together, and we will get through it together. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. It’s going to take time and patience to transition to this new way of living. The entire Apex Learning Virtual School community is behind you. If there is anything we can do to help you and your family throughout this global health crisis, please let us know. We wish your family health and peace throughout this difficult time.