Meghan Leahy had a chat March 18 to discuss parenting during the coronavirus. Here is an edited excerpt.

Q: How do we keep a routine?

We are trying to still keep a routine with our 4-year-old (who is usually at preschool) by still getting dressed after breakfast, etc. But we are allowing some extra snuggle time in the morning, not super-rushing him. Are we setting ourselves up for disaster when we can no longer do that with him? He’s already impossible to get ready in the morning.

A: Meghan Leahy

Yes, let’s accept that it is not going to be ideal, and we are all going to have some heck to pay when it is time to rejoin the world. And we can only do our best right now.

You know he needs routine, you are giving him that. You know that children are more cooperative when they feel connected to those they love, you are giving him snuggles.

Good and good.

To some extent, worrying about the disaster on the other side of this can ruin all the good you are doing, so try to drop that concern. (Hard but doable.)

In the meanwhile, you can “pretend school” to keep that routine. Maybe two or three mornings a week, you can really stick to your routine, leave the house with a lunch, and coat, etc., and then walk back into the house for “school.”

You can have little centers in the house, and do that for a while.

I am just looking at practicing leaving the house, since that is a sticking point for so many parents of young kids.

Q: Containing the anxiety

How do we constructively manage our own anxiety without passing that on to our anxious kids considering everything that’s going on? There’s so much stress to be shared and I want to do what I can to protect them from it but I also kind of wanna cry...

A: Meghan Leahy

Begin by having a good shower cry. Get it all out. If you cannot do a shower cry, watch some clips of Ellen [DeGeneres] surprising amazing people with scholarships and cars. That will make you cry, for sure. Get some tears out, because emotions were made to move, and the energy it takes to hold them in simply isn’t worth it.

Next, stop watching the news. Definitely stop reading stuff on social media. You don’t technically need to know what is happening in San Francisco or Seattle to stay safe right here, right now. Watching the news triggers our cortisol and puts us into a panic... but there’s nothing to do about it! Stay home, wash your hands, get fresh air, move your body, eat good food, repeat.

If you are prone to anxiety, you have to be extra vigilant to stop the panic.

While I am not one to constantly promote meditation (even though I practice Zen Buddhism), I will recommend an app like Calm or Headspace, and find what works for you on there. There is stuff for the whole family.

Finally, nature heals. GET OUTSIDE. Even for short bits of time.

And find a person to share your worries with, out of the earshot of your children. It is good to vent and then leave it there.

Q: How are you handling this?

Hi Meghan. You have kids. You're a parent coach. What does life look like at your house right now? What words of wisdom can you give us as we're all trying to get through?

A: Meghan Leahy



We were supposed to wake up early, but we aren’t early risers in our house anymore (16, almost 13 and 9), so we get up around 8 a.m. and walk around and growl at each other for a while.

I make everyone breakfast and we meet at the table to discuss the day. For instance, today is wild with my work so I have had to put the kids on puppy detail, dog walks, etc. I have also decided (in my mind) to give more latitude toward the tech today. (I call this the “needs of the situation.”)

Everyone has two work blocks (45 minutes each) which I am poorly managing.

Lunch is served at 12 p.m.

I work all afternoon, so it will be what it will be, with chores and dog walks getting done. I may pay them to reorganize my books.

My final goal is to find a trail for us and the dogs that isn't overrun with other people.

Tomorrow will be different.

The wisdom is to assess the needs of your family, that day. And keep it simple.

That’s it.

Q: Enter boredom

Hi. Our kids are ages 4-12, and there are three of them. All different personalities, but all completely bored, in tears, frustrated, hitting, screaming. How are we supposed to do weeks of this? Usually they activities or friends they can play with. My partner and I both are trying to work and let me tell you, that fancy schedule I see posted all over Facebook? Yeah, not working. Help.

A: Meghan Leahy

Take the template of that schedule and sit down with your family.

I know the schedule you are referring to, and yes, it is bananas and I don't know how anyone adheres to it.

First, sit with your spouse and figure out the needs of the situation. The real needs of the situation. Who needs to work, when and how. Get an idea of what the week looks like. Which parent can take which kid, and when? That 4-year-old cannot self-manage for long, so who is going to help him?

Next, call a family meeting and write down the routine. There will be times that you need to work, and what are the choices for the kids? Give them two different options.

Have an activity block: I am a big fan of freeze tag, hide and seek, obstacle courses, etc. Literally running around the block can work. Yoga! Anything! Get the whole family to do it.

Finally, try your best to shut down the tech earlier in the evening. I know it is hard, but the screens keep your children’s brains active which prolongs bedtime know.

The boredom that our kids are experiencing is rough for them. We don’t allow them to be bored in our culture anymore. This is new territory and it is going to take a minute.

Be gentle with yourselves and with them.

Above all, HAVE SOME FUN.

Q: Sibling Rivalry! Help!

How do I keep my 3- and 6-year-old girls entertained while being stuck at the house? We try to avoid screen time and they are getting tired of each other.

A: Meghan Leahy

1. We will accept that fights will happen. We are all shoved in together, and this will be the result.

2. A strong routine and schedule is needed, with extra TV thrown in.

3. Have “cool down” spots they can retreat to when it gets heated. For instance, can the 6-year-old retreat to a spot that is filled with some favorite things while you distract the 3-year-old?

4. When in doubt, move the bodies. Any movement will help tire their bodies and minds, and it is badly needed with these ages together.

Q: “I make everyone breakfast”

I don't want to criticize your parenting, but don't the kids make their own breakfasts?

A: Meghan Leahy

You aren't criticizing my parenting when you ask that, it is a great question.

My children can physically make and do virtually everything an adult can do, but making food for them during this time is a loving act that I can take on. It also cuts down on fighting in the kitchen, choices, etc. Making and serving the food brings a sense of calm to the house that they need, so that’s what I am doing.