There’s a little extra chaos and anxiety in many homes across the state. After many districts closed schools and extended spring breaks last week to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, parents are left scrambling with what to do with their kids -and how to talk to them about the unprecedented disruption COVID-19 has caused in New Jersey and around the world.

And then there are the kids at home: Teenagers are cringing at being stuck at home with parents who are now working at home or out of work. Young children are climbing the walls. And others are worrying about what the future holds with their parents out of work. This stress and anxiety is a parenting experience to which we are all trying to overcome during an unexpected disruption of normalcy for the entire household.

Here are some ways parents can take care of their and their children’s mental health and make it through:

-Don’t throw out structure.  Sit down with your children and map out how the days will flow. Set up specific times for reading/homework, chores, independent free time, mealtimes, family time and bedtime. Like every teacher, write it down and post the schedule.”

-Make time for yourself. Everybody will need a breather right now. Make sure your children know that you will plan blocks of time for yourself and that they will need to self-entertain. This will give you time for needed chores and your own mental-health time. Have several a day and work in times for your own self-reflection, checking in with other parents and exercise time.

-Get out all those old-fashioned board games. Watch TV together or share an electronic game or two. This would also be a great time to watch old family videos. Connecting with happier times is always good for our mental health.

-Stick to a sleep schedule. While it might be tempting for your older children to stay up late every night and sleep late every morning, that’s not going to be beneficial to their physical and mental health. You’ll also be left with very moody children the next day. Stick with your bedtime schedule. Don’t forget to enforce no screen time an hour before bed.

For more information on the coronavirus: