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Across the globe, millions of employees are working remotely for the first time as businesses practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. For working parents — whose days require fulfilling job duties while also tending to their children — the challenges can feel intense. 

As schools shut down, many parents are now taking on a new role of teacher and homeschooling their kids in addition to doing their jobs. Parents are also responsible for making sure their kids avoid being cooped up and sedentary. New research published in The Lancet Psychiatry from the initial outbreak in China found that when children were home from school, they tended to have less physical activity, more unhealthy diets, and significantly longer screen time. Other research, also published in The Lancet, found that when children are stuck indoors without anyone their age to socialize with, the negative effects of a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle can worsen. On top of those pressures, parents are more stressed than ever: Over 95% of parents are worried about their children’s health in light of the coronavirus, according to a Thrive Global original survey of 5,000 respondents about coronavirus pain points. 

While the challenges during this time are real, so are the solutions. If you’re looking for ways to create routines and healthy habits for your children to keep them healthy (and maintain your own sanity and productivity) in our new normal, try these science-backed Microsteps:

Define a new morning routine. If they’re not going to school or to daycare, the day can feel very long and unstructured for your children. Whether it’s a family breakfast, reading a book together, or choosing their clothes, each step can help them to feel like they’re more secure.

Create an “office” for your children. This can be their designated space for play, reading, and drawing while you are in your work space.

Take the opportunity to set (or reset) boundaries with your child’s technology. If your child has access to a phone or tablet, review the parental controls. Unsupervised exposure to news and media during a crisis can lead to stress and fear.

Set up a recurring virtual play date. Help your child to connect with their friends or school mates by setting up a FaceTime or Zoom session during the day. 

Every night, make a schedule for the next day. Every family member can share what is going on in their day, and your children can add in activities like watering the plants, art projects, and reading, as well as their meals and snack breaks. This replicates the structure they’re used to at school and helps you plan ahead at the same time.

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