Set Up Routines Now! Tips for being home with kids with ADHD during COVID-19

Has it been another exhausting day of managing your son or daughter with ADHD at home due to school closures from COVID-19? It’s tough to juggle their activities, school work and sibling arguments with your own issues about employment changes  and trying to stay calm in the midst of national panic. What can you do to ease the stress and create a home structure that works for everybody?

First, take a deep breath. Think about what type of daily schedule you’d like to see for your family. What’s realistic to expect from yourself, your partner (if you have one) and your kids during this time? It’s reasonable to expect daily routines that include regular wake-up and bed times, blocks of time allocated for studying, chores, play and chilling out. It’s reasonable to expect that screens aren’t on 24/7. And it’s reasonable to predict that there will be laughter, fun as well as meltdowns and arguments. Once you accept these conditions, it will be easier to create a structure that works for everyone.

Start by dividing the day into blocks for studying, doing chores, fun activities and chilling out. Follow these tips to help make your family’s plan and then post this in the kitchen. Expect to adjust this along the way.

  1. Set up formal study periods while you work at the table alongside your kids. Break assignments into do-able chunks and offer incentives for the completion of work. Make sure you include study breaks based on movement, snacks and time outside.
  2. Assign chores that your kids can do so that everybody is contributing to the household according to their age and ability.
  3. Set up screen and non-screen activity times. Brainstorm lists for each of these categories with your kids and plan for when they will occur. Give some screen time automatically each day but then leave the rest for your kids to earn through their cooperation.
  4. Play with your kids: If you give them your attention freely and positively, then they won’t need to act up to get it. Spend time outside and exercise together if you can.
  5. If you are now working from home, use your kids’ screen time to your advantage and schedule it for times that will help you.

Take time to answer kids’ questions about COVID 19 with facts and honesty. They are scared and confused and need you to clarify what’s happening. They seek reassurance that you’re taking care of their safety and may want to talk about how to maintain connections to their friends and extended family members.

During this strange and frightening time, remember to take care of yourself so you’ll be available to take care of others. Reach out to folks for support but edit your phone conversations so you’re not discussing distressing content in front of your kids.