Rachel Campos-Duffy: Coronavirus family quarantine – 10 tips to make it work for everyone

PROGRAMMING ALERT: Watch Rachel Campos-Duffy discuss this topic and more on "The Story with Martha MacCallum" on March 17 at 7 p.m. EDT on Fox News Channel.

When President Trump announced this week that we should limit gatherings to ten people to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, things got real for America’s families. As a family of eleven we couldn't help but chuckle, wondering who among us should go.

As parents, we all plan ahead for summer when the kids are home from school. But this time is different. With schools and businesses closed and the call for families to stay home and self-quarantine for the sake of our elderly and vulnerable populations, there was little or no time for parents to transition to this new normal.

In addition to managing the meals, clean up, homework and cabin fever, many parents are having to learn to work from home for the very first time.

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There’s no question that it can be stressful.

Here are some tips to help manage the quarantine challenges and make the most of this unexpected “family time.

Demystify Coronavirus. If you haven’t already, have a family talk. It can be scary for kids who are hearing stories from friends, social media or the news.

Answer all their questions & empower them with information on what THEY can do to keep germs at bay. I told my kids that being clean is their patriotic duty!

It was harder to talk sense into my teens and college kids than our little ones. No school, to them translated to hanging out with friends.  In the first few days we permitted a few excursions but as things escalated and more clear guidelines came in, we had to lay down the law.

Again, speaking about this in terms of a patriotic mission helped them feel like it was a cause rather than a punishment.


Soak in the family time! As long as you are stuck inside together, enjoy each other! Cook and bake together, play cards, dance, watch movies, bring out old family albums and home movies.

Most of us complain about never having enough family downtime. Well, now we do. So make the most of it and don’t feel bad about enjoying this precious time together.

Set a schedule. Try to set a rough schedule for homework, meals and bedtimes. You don’t have to be rigid, but setting a goal, for example, of getting school work done before noon will leave plenty of time for fun after.

Most of us complain about never having enough family downtime. Well, now we do. So make the most of it and don’t feel bad about enjoying this precious time together. 

To get into a school work mode, it helps to get the kids out of their PJs, dressed, teeth brushed and hair combed – just like we do before a normal school day. Plus, call me crazy but I find my girls are naughtier and fight more when their hair is a mess.

Workout. It’s hard to do when everyone is home and needs you but making time to work out and shower -- even for just 20 minutes -- will make mom/dad feel better. I’m always in a better mood after a workout and a shower.

As a busy mom, I’ve always worked out at home. I’ve never felt better about my home workout equipment investments than now. I must not be alone because my Peloton stocks are up!

Working from home. If you don’t have a home office, designate a room or place in the house to do your work. Make your workspace as pleasant and work-friendly as possible. Maybe you work better near a window with natural light. Move a plant, framed photo, or painting you love near your desk.

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Trade-off with your partner for conference calls and quiet time to return emails. If you are the only parent home, ask (or pay) an older sibling to watch the other kids while you work. When all else fails, a movie will keep them quiet for a chunk of time. Again, no guilt. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Delegate chores. In our case, 3 meals a day for 11 people is a lot. Everyone has to chip in with prep and cleanup.

For this quarantine time, we worked out a breakfast, lunch, dinner clean up schedule instead of our usual ad hoc method. Even the littlest kids can do more than you think, cleaning doorknobs and light switches around the house with Clorox wipes etc. 

Reading. Now is the time to encourage your kids to read the classics -- many of our kids aren't reading them at school. Plus, bonding over a book you loved as a child is a beautiful thing. If you don’t have them in the house, order online. Kids love getting mail – especially now!

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Technology. Usually, we’re telling our kids to lay off social media, but in times like these, FaceTiming with friends and grandparents can be very comforting and relieves isolation knowing others are in the same boat.

Fresh air. Walking the dog, a grocery run or even a walk to the mailbox can be a relief from cabin fever. After homework, let the kids run out in the backyard, hang out on the balcony or the front stoop if there aren’t others in close proximity. 

Pray together. Pray as a family for those who are sick, our health care workers, scientist, lonely grandparents in nursing homes, and wisdom for our president and leaders.

Focusing on others and counting our blessings is another way to help kids realize that things are going to be OK. For busy families who haven’t made a routine or tradition of family prayer time, there’s no better time to start!

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Finally, think about how you can help the most vulnerable among us – our elderly. Can you help pick up groceries and help out in other ways? (While observing social distancing, of course).)

We are all in this together!

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