A schedule for our new reality…

We are in our third week of lockdown here in the Netherlands, and a new reality has slowly settled in. As much as it is humanly possible, with 5 children and 2 adults at home 24/7 for the unforeseeable future, the new ways and customs we have established already feel surprisingly ‘normal’. Where usually our routines are dictated by school bells, work meetings and social activities, suddenly our agendas look totally different and we combine flexibility with schedules to structure our days.

Talking to friends, it’s been interesting to hear how different everyone is organising their lockdown days. Some get up at their normal hour, some like to sleep in late. Some dress to relax whereas others like to impress. Some gather together, as a family, at structured times of the day to eat together, whereas others spread out and keep to themselves as much as possible.

I think the key to these mostly indoor days is to be flexible and work around your energy levels. We like to get up early and make sure most of our work is done in the beginning of the day, when energy levels are still high, so that we have time for crafts and walks in the afternoon.

Here are a few pointers that work for us:

  • We have implemented a rotating cleaning schedule. Every morning after breakfast, we spend around 30 minutes to tidy and clean the house. Each of the children have a serious task, like vacuum the downstairs floor, or clean all of the toilets in the house. (This has been an excellent opportunity to teach them how to properly clean a loo!). Of course these cleaning tasks are additional to other chores, like setting the table, helping to prepare meals, tidying up, etc.
  • We do get dressed, but we’re totally relaxed about it ;). Every few days, we try to do a workout in the morning. (We either dance or do yoga, following a course on YouTube.) We dress in sports leggings and usually don’t bother to get changed for the rest of the day…
  • We like to sit together at mealtimes and catch up on each other’s tasks (plus, of course, we discuss the news!). For in-between snack time, I put some bowls of nuts and dried fruit out on the kitchen counter and everyone just helps themselves.
  • After lunch, we do something creative, or we work in our garden or go for a walk. We also bake a lot of cakes and cookies!
  • Meal planning — even though normally I’m more of a spontaneous cook, during these lockdown days we make sure to plan our dinners ahead so that we minimise having to leave the house for grocery shopping. We also order in at least once a week! It’s full on hard work, this lockdown, and when we’re too knackered to cook we take it easy on ourselves. (Luckily we all love pizza!)
  • We keep Bram up later in the evenings, so that he takes longer daytime naps and we can get more work done when he’s asleep.

What about you? Do you follow a strict schedule, or do you just take it as it comes? Also, please share your tips and tricks!

xxx Esther


Comments (5)

April 5, 2020

Thank you for these great tips! Sounds like you’re handling it gracefully. I like to go on solo walks or drives or get some quiet time. I’m actually enjoying this time to be lazy and not feel any guilt! I sleep in, read, enjoy sitting down to meals and tea time, just talking or playing games or doing crafts as we feel like it. We just play it by ear, all the time. Getting more help from the kids with cleaning is a great idea. My daughter learned to knit a few days ago! I binge watch murder mysteries on Netflix at night. Harlan Coben series.

Esther in Amsterdam
April 6, 2020

Thanks for the Netflix tip! We have been watching Brooklyn 99 with the kids. And I thought about the knitting and crochet, but our days are actually very busy so haven’t had the time yet… xx

April 6, 2020

You really found a “relaxed” routine of your days….enough structure for not getting lost within all the things which still needs to be done but still relaxed. I think that is fantastic!…In our house, the last three weeks were quite structured/dominated by our kids’ school time table as our two older kids (15and 14) have been taught online from 9 until 4 pm daily (they had most of their lessons taught on MS Teams online and their attendance had been checked), our third child (10 years) was sent home with daily working plans before the lockdown and his class had daily Zoom meetings with their teacher and even our youngest (5 years) had a weekly Zoom “show and Tell” with his Kindergarten group….with all four kids having had fixed dates at which they had to be in front of the computer we had been a bit limited with regards to how to organize our day. Today ist the first day of the Easter Break here in Berlin and although the kids still need to work on assignments and I am more than grateful for all the support we received from our school and our kids teachers who just within days implemented this new way of learning I am very much looking forward to structure our our days a little bit more flexible 😉 As you we will continue working in the mornings and “meeting for lunch” but then we will have time for our family to actually spend time together and I love your idea to spend the afternoon in a more relaxed and creative way (this afternoon our daughter started experimenting with making ice cream as it is finally sunny outside)…..and your idea of the rotating cleaning schedule after breakfast is simply brilliant. At the moment I try to see that positive side of this lockdown….having more “quality time” with our kids but in a relaxed, creative and fun way…and hopefully being able to squeeze in some “date night at home” with my husband as well 🙂 Cheers from Berlin, Eva

Esther in Amsterdam
April 7, 2020

Thanks for your message, it seems the days are full for you as well! I think it’s so am axing to see how we are all being slow and busy at the same time! En joy your Easter break — our kids still have over two weeks of online classes before our two week vacation… xxx PS yes the cleaning schedule is really great!

April 8, 2020

Thank you for your post! We have adopted a relaxed but fairly consistent routine here. Timings are never precise and we frequently get interrupted by very welcomed video chats with family and friends all over the world.
My husband and I are both teachers and we have our nearly 4 year old at home with us so we need to balance both of us working and doing home learning with our son. We have focused a lot on independent and household skills for him since this is what he doesn’t always get the opportunity to do. Lots of independent getting dressed, sorting, and tidying. For us so far what has worked is after breakfast my son helps clear the table and unload the dishwasher (mostly sorting the cutlery – minus the sharp knives). Laundry and vacuuming (with lots of help) are also chores he does whenever the house needs it.
We usually spend the early mornings doing learning tasks with English and Maths focused play based activities, cosmic Yoga, going out for a walk/bike ride then lots of free play, crafts, experiments, and stories all while we alternate working. We always each lunch together and then the afternoons are usually filled with baking, crafts and more stories.
Dinner is usually with music and candles followed by baths, stories and snuggles. It’s really lovely having extra family time and slower routines!

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