While state and local governments are scrambling to limit the effects of COVID-19 in their communities, there’s a lot of talk about how to handle being suddenly forced into remote work.

Since I work at Automattic, I’m already working remotely and my job will remain largely the same. But I’m anticipating that my 6 year old son’s school will soon announce a lengthy closure, and that means I’ll need to juggle my job with his needs all day, for potentially weeks at a time. I can take some time off, of course; we have unlimited PTO. But since hundreds of my coworkers will potentially be in the same position, how much time and when it makes sense to take it is still very much a question. And besides, with everything closed, I’ll just be sitting at home anyway.

My son is very social, and an only child, so our usual way of occupying him when there’s no school is playdates with friends. Those are harder to come by as we’re all practicing social distancing.

So this is what I’m thinking for how we’ll get through the next several weeks:

Consistency: I’m thinking I’ll write up a daily schedule, with clearly-designated times for screen time, playing or reading by himself, any school assignments that need to be completed, and doing activities with Mom and/or Dad. Perhaps we’ll even go over it every morning like they do in circle time at school.

Novelty: I’m working on getting a stash of small LEGO sets and other small toys that I can occasionally dole out, sort of like the “bring wrapped toys on airplane trips” advice, but stretched out over multiple weeks.

Choice: We’ll make a list of activities that he can choose for the time with parents. We can cross them off as we do them, so we don’t end up playing SORRY! ten days in a row. Some of my ideas:

  • Bake banana bread (math! fractions! following directions! deliciousness!)
  • Play board or card games.
  • Write a story, then stage scenes with LEGO minifigs, and then I’ll take photos of them and print them out with my smartphone photo printer, and we can make a book out of it.
  • Go for a ride on a cargo bike to explore the outdoors a bit.
  • Listen while a parent reads some of a chapter book.
  • Playground time.
  • Watercolor painting.
  • FaceTime with a friend.

I think this is going to be a long period of disruption, friends. Stay safe out there.