Navigating Through Isolation and Social Distancing With Your Child

To watch the video version click here.

Are you struggling with navigating through social distancing and isolation wit your child?

You are not alone!

I’ve received lots of emails and messages asking if what I spoke about last week in the episode on surviving unexpected home days, if that’s still the best course of action.

Yes, it is.

You’ve just now got three weeks to work your child up to long periods of unsupervised independent play! Every day, just lengthen that time a little bit more.

Secret: Use a time timer.


I’ve got a whole episode on time timers, now is the time to get that out of your Amazon cart.

You will not regret it!

They’re a bit pricey, but you’ve got to just trust me on this. If you use a normal timer that just beeps out of nowhere is not going to get you the result you want. The time timer helps make time concrete.

It is best to grab a 60 or 120-minute version, and every day you’re going to bump it out by 5 to 10 minutes. Then you’re going to give them 5 to 10 minutes of interaction time in between.

Check out my post on independent play and on the time timer.

Please remember to send them outside!

We’re in social isolation, not quarantine. Children can still go play in the yard. They NEED to go play in the yard.

Remember children need between 5 and 8 hours a day of outdoor play.

Yes, that’s a lot in the structure of our modern world. Yes, it’s a lot if you’re like me and still have 2.5 feet of snow in your back yard. Yes, it’s really difficult to do when you live in a high rise and all you’ve got available to you is a balcony.

There are some situations that are not ideal, but you do what you can, and it doesn’t have to be ALL at once. You also have the option to go for half an hour and then come in for half an hour.

Would it be ideal if we could all open our back doors and send them outside and not see them for 8 hours? Yes.

However, this isn’t everyone’s reality. Taking a one-hour lunch break, walking to the park with them, having a picnic lunch while they run around and stop by occasionally for a bite, that’s GREAT!

Just make sure to make getting outside and getting some fresh air a priority.

The colliery to that is screen time, I understand that everyone is worried about screen time.

This is not an ideal time.

Social isolation and working from home without any child care is not ideal. It’s not our norm. This means that norms like “no more than two hours of screen time a week” do not apply.

I’m not even working from home without childcare!

Generally, my oldest is in kindergarten 4 days a week and my youngest is in preschool 2.5 hours a day 3 days a week. I get most of my work done during that time, and in the evenings.

Fridays were really the only days I worked from home with two kids in the house.

Spoiler alert: not much happens on Fridays for me generally, other than chatting with my clients.

I’m VERY lucky that even though my kids are out of school for the next three weeks, my husband is also off work for the next three weeks. Therefore, I have more child care than I usually have!

However, for most people, this isn’t the case. For most people, they have two parents who need to work from home. There’s going to be lots of TV involved, especially when there’s things like conference calls happening.

I want you to be okay with that. It is what it is.

You are not going to destroy them in 3 weeks.

When I was in grade 5, so I would have been 10/11 years old…I lost about a month of school between the Ice Storm of ’98. This took us out of school for two weeks, and there was the last large teacher’s strike in Ontario around the same time too.

All we did was read, watch TV, and play. I have two degrees and I run a profitable international business, and I’m not even 35 yet.

I promise you, your kids are going to be okay if they get a bit more screen time than they would under ideal circumstances.

The best way to handle that though is to, as I said, make sure you’re interspersing it with outdoor play and indoor independent play that doesn’t involve screens when you can.

You do not have to entertain, educate, or micromanage your child during this time.


Check out my post on visuals.

In ParentAbility one of the main resources my clients use is our visuals class and our pre-made visuals library. Use them! Sit down every night and set up a visual schedule for your next day.

I have little cards that go on ours that say “Mommy works/ you watch TV.” So he can see that that is what’s happening right now.

This is new for everybody, but the more concrete you can make it for them, the less messy behavior you’re going to see.

Kids just want to know what’s going on, that’s all.

Most importantly, remember that this isn’t the new normal, it’s short term. Everybody else is in the same boat. Yes, it’s scary.

Our government in Canada just shut down restaurants and daycares and all other recreational activities. This is a HUGE disruption in our lives, no doubt about that.

It’s the same for EVERYBODY, and it’s not forever.

Please keep me in the loop, let me know how this is working out for you. A

Remember the Posse is here to help you, please check-in.

Those of you who’d like more personalized guidance and support setting up visuals, structuring your day, managing your child’s stress and improving their skills during the next 3 weeks, ParentAbility is open and we’re waiting to help!

I know everyone is terrified of being stuck at home with their kids, because they’re anticipating the stress behavior. You’re anticipating that lack of skills shining through something awful and if this turns into a 6 week plus endeavor. You’re not sure how you’re going to survive, so NOW is the best time to start.

The first thing that happens when you come into ParentAbility is we make a plan with you. I know right now planning feels impossible, but having that plan will make it much less overwhelming as we navigate this crisis. It’s not just kids who need things to be concrete, consistent, and predictable.

Kids aren’t mini-adults, we’re big kids.

Having consistency and predictability is what makes us feel safe too. Those of you who are low-grade panicking at the thought of managing your kids and their stress through this, I’m here to help.

You just need to go to to start.

Please comment below with any questions.

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About Allana

Hi, I’m Allana. I teach parents of toddlers and preschoolers why their children are misbehaving and what to do about it without yelling, shaming, or using time-outs. When not teaching parents about behaviour you can generally find me chasing around my two boys, reading cheesy romance novels, or hanging out with my own parents.

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