Help your teen stick to a routine during COVID-19

a transmasculine gendernonconforming person sitting on a bed

If all sense of routine has gone out the door at the moment at home, you’re not alone. There’s no question: coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in huge changes to our daily life. These changes might mean that usual routines such as school and work look dramatically different.

It can be tricky to know how to adapt and keep things running in the household and stick to a daily routine. We’ve created a planner template to help you make a schedule and routine for the family.

Download a PDF of the family activity planner.

Download a PDF of the individual routine planner.

Why routines are good for teens

  • They can make teens feel safe and secure, and help them to deal with stressful events.

  • They indicate what’s important to your family.

  • They can help family life run a little smoother.

  • They teach teens about basic work and time management skills.

Bonus: If your teen gets into a routine, it’ll be easier for you and the whole household to be in a good routine. We’re all in this together.

Manage your expectations

It’s difficult to stick to a routine at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. The purpose of planning a routine is to provide structure for the family so that things can get done. If things don’t always go perfectly to plan (and they won’t!), consider what could help next time (e.g. waking up a bit earlier, or trying to fit less in). Go easy on yourself – this is a challenging time and you’re trying your best.

How to stick to a routine using our planner template

1. Work with your teen

The key to routine planning is to involve teens in the process so they feel some ownership of the plan. Have a chat about why you think having a routine in place will help the family, and ask them how they feel about it. Talk about your expectations, and about how building routines is something you practise over time rather than master all at once.

2. Write down what needs to be done

With your teen, write down the categories of all the things they need to get done. This list should include the basics such as work and school, mealtimes, bedtimes and housework. Add how long those things will take, so it will be easier to slot them into the schedule.

Then put a time on it – for example, breakfast is at 8 am, lunch at noon, dinner at 6 pm (or whatever works for you). List these so that the categories correspond to their times.

3. Think about what’s important to the family

Once you’ve figured out the basics that need doing, think about what is important to your family. For example, if family fun times are important, you could schedule a weekly board game or movie night. If quality time is important, you could schedule a walk with your teen every few days.

4. Make space for downtime

If the routine only includes study and chores, it can look pretty unappealing. Build in some downtime for your teen to chill out and do something they enjoy. For example, you could break study into 20-minute blocks with a short break. You could ask them what they like to do to unwind and write up a separate list of these things with them. (They could include reading, online gaming, working out, chatting with friends, etc.)

5. Make it visual – use the template

Having something written up and in sight (such as on the fridge) will make it far more likely to be done.

Your teen and you can download the PDF of the planner at the bottom of the article, and then click on the ‘Add text’ tab and add in the activities to the document before printing. Or, print the planner and write in the activities yourself.

Pro tip: If you’re handwriting entries, add them in pencil so you can adjust things later if needed.

How to stick to the routine planner


The planner is now filled out and in sight. Well done! The best way to stick to the routine is to monitor how things are going, and to make any necessary adjustments.

Are the study blocks being skipped? Perhaps you could try doing more study blocks, but make the times shorter. Does bedtime keep being pushed back? If it’s genuinely too early, perhaps you can compromise on a different bedtime and wake-up time.

There’s no doubt that sticking to a routine right now is tricky, especially for families with lots of competing demands. Following the plan above will make everyone’s expectations clearer and will hopefully help things run more smoothly.

Remember that you don’t need to follow the routine perfectly for it to be helpful. Progress, not perfection, should be the aim.

Download a PDF of the family activity planner.

Download a PDF of the individual routine planner.