The Empty Nest

Social Distancing: 7 Strategies on How to Support Your College (or High School) Students

social distancing, coronavirus, cancelations

Social distancing got you down?  What about your kiddos?  Wondering when this coronavirus outbreak is going to end? This is a crazy time and I keep thinking that this is all a dream but I do not seem to be waking up from it Any. Time. Soon.  

So obviously, if you have not heard by now most of our country, if not all of our country, is being asked to social distance itself from itself.  It seems easy enough.   Stay in your home, do not go out, wash your hands, cover your cough, do not touch your face, and if you do have to go out stay six feet away from everyone!  These are pretty simple things that we can all do to protect ourselves and those we love. 

social distancing, coronavirus, cancellations

Now, I know this social distancing has been very difficult for some of us.  It seems to have hit our high school seniors and our college students a lot harder than most.  They have been placed in a unique predicament where their life has been basically “canceled” for lack of a better word.

Our high school seniors are losing their chance to experience the “lasts” of their high school careers.  College students are losing all the hard work they put in the first half of the second semester to now be told they must complete their labs and classes online, with hope they will get the same experiences they would have received in a classroom setting.  

Dreams are being crumpled up and thrown away in the trash like a first draft paper.  Kids everywhere are feeling crushed.  And I know first-hand as a parent of a college student, he is struggling big time.   Being back at home and not being able to go out and see his friends and they are all home (well most of them).  This is very overwhelming for everyone.  

But do not fear, this is why I am here, to give you some ideas to help your student survive through this social distancing down time.  I also think, that some of these ideas will help you, as well and provide you with something to look forward to everyday.  

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#1  Encourage Rest and Sleep

I know that sleep and teenagers often go hand in hand and we as parents of these teenagers do not usually have to do much to encourage it.  I say let them sleep!  If they want to sleep until noon then let them.  

Most of their days they are on a routine of waking up before the sun and completing their daily tasks quite early.  But they do not have to do that right now.  They do not have to be up early and for most of them can complete their classwork on their own time.  And it has been said that our brains do not work so well so early in the morning!  At least mine does not!

Encourage them to rest and “catch-up” so to speak on all the sleep they miss when they are either living in a dorm or staying up late to get work done.  Allowing them this time will hopefully make them feel refreshed and energized to finish off the school year strong. When we are allowed out of our houses again that is.

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#2 Avoid Information Overload

This can be a tougher strategy but try to stay away from information that is not factual.  I beg of you to not believe everything you read or hear.  Just because it is on the internet does not make it accurate.  

I know the news is constantly blasting stuff and people on Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Everyone has their own opinions.  But to avoid receiving the wrong information and spreading this information around further pay attention to the sources.  Where did the information come from?  Is it from a random website or article? Does it have some merit to it and came from the governor or director of health from your state?  

Let’s keep informed and well-read but let us not get caught up in the drama of it all.  I love a good news feed just like the rest of you but even I, get too overwhelmed by it all.  And our kiddos will deffintiley find themselves wrapped up in all the information.  Do not let them worry and provide them with the facts.

You can set a time to watch the news there are a lot of briefings on at a lot of different times. So pick one and watch it as a family.  This way everyone is informed of the same information and no one is getting information second or even third hand.  It eliminates the sharing of wrong information and everyone can feel informed and have less anxiety over the news.  

coronavirus, social distancing, cancellations, disappointment

#3 Understand Their Disappointment

This can seem strange to some that their children would be disappointed by all the cancelations.  But think about it.  They are either missing their “lasts” of high school, or in my son’s case his “firsts” of college.  There is going to be some sadness and disappointment.  

The day we went to pick up my son’s stuff from his dorm was eerie.  The college campus was nearly silent.  It wasn’t like what you would expect from the last day of school, moving out day.  Kids would be happy and having fun.  Summer vacations were going to be starting and everyone could finally release from all that stress of assignments and jobs.  

But it was silent.  No happiness or high fives, just depressed parents with even more depressed kids, hauling out their belongings.  It felt like we just moved him in and now he was moving out.  His emotions on that day were definitely a mixture of disappointment, sadness, and maybe a little anger.  He wasn’t ready to be done, yet.  

You do not have to dwell on their feelings but you do need to acknowledge them and let them know that things will get back to normal soon.  They will have an interesting story to tell their children/grandchildren in the future! 

inspirational quotes on a planner
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#4 Create a Schedule or Routine

This is more for your sanity really than theirs but who knows maybe you have a kid like mine that needs his routine.  And if that’s the case here are several must have printables you can use to help create and stick to a daily routine.  You can use these to create a schedule that fits yours and your student’s needs.  This can include work time, nap time, exercise, lunch, creative time, cleaning or nearly anything you need to get done.  

My son and I agreed to a list of working on our school work, cleaning, break/nap time, and exercise time.  We set a schedule of when these things will need to be done and a check list of other things that do not have specific times. He has set times he has to be online for class and I really do not have any set time just a list of things I need to accomplish for work. 

Creating a schedule will allow everyone to feel a little bit normal and not so “stuck” at home.  Plus, this will encourage you to actually get the stuff done that needs to be done.  We all have responsibilities to take care of so let’s do them together.  I don’t know about you but I love putting that check mark in the box or crossing things off of my list that I completed.  It’s a great feeling!

social distancing, coronavirus, board games, stress relief

#5 Stress Relief

Another strategy that will help both you and your student is some stress relief.  Now stress relief can look completely different for many different people.  I am thinking like being crafty.  Making something together.  Building a bench.  Making wreaths.  Knitting hats and gloves.  Or hey what about some of those adult coloring pages?

If you are not the crafty type because believe me, I know we all can’t do the crafting.  Then you could play games.  I love playing board games.  We play them all the time!  They are great for including the whole family.  Check out this game it is one of our favorites!

Maybe you are more of a video game family, those work too. They have some awesome old systems that you can get for cheap and play all together. Click here to see an oldie but goodie!

Or, if you are not a game person, what about binge watching Netflix?  There are plenty of seasons of shows of all kinds.  There are also plenty of movies, too.   Have a movie fest and pop some popcorn.  That is another one of my favorite things to do!

I know some of you out there are cleaners and like to declutter your house if that’s the case then get at it!  Make a list of the areas you want to hit and get it done!  You can also check out my 21 Day Declutter Your Stuff Challenge here if you need some inspiration.

It’s a perfect time for your kids to go through their stuff and get rid of things they are no longer using or clothes that are too small. They are stuck in the house anyway might as well clean it! Don’t tell them I said that!

excited barefoot ethnic mother and cute girl doing stretching exercises together
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

#6 Exercise/Physical Activity

This next strategy is super important for your health and should be done by every member of your family.  Engaging in some form of physical activity is important for not just your physical health, but your mental health as well.  It can be very depressing to have to be in your home 24 hours a day without the ability to socialize with other people (outside of your family). 

We need sunlight and fresh air and contact with humans to make us happy people.  That is why physical activity can be so very important.  So, get your student off the couch and out of your house and go for a walk or run.  Take your dog for a walk they will appreciate it!  

Put in one of those workout tapes from the 80s and make fun of the outfits but actually move while you are laughing.  Also, there are so many websites now offering free or discounted workout videos online.  Just google the type of workout you are most interested in and get busy.  Or allow your kid to choose the workout.  

I have used Body Boss as an at home workout option for years. You can check it out here to get your own copy. The point is to be up and moving.  I know I said earlier that rest was important but moving is also important!

If you have a yard go throw a ball or frisbee or kick a soccer ball.  Depending on where you live or what season it is it might not be warm enough yet!  If you have indoor workout equipment utilize this when the weather is not cooperating.  

Create a workout routine that your student and you will both enjoy.  Whatever you do get up every once and a while and move.  Your body will thank you later.    

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#7 Stay in Contact

This last strategy might not be hard for your student to do but please make sure they are doing it.  Just because we are social distancing ourselves in our homes does not mean we cannot use the phone or internet to talk to our friends.  This means you too, mom and dad.  You need to keep in contact with the outside world.  

I’ve read a lot lately on people planning big parties when coronavirus leaves for good.  I think that is an awesome idea!  Plan a block party and invite everyone on your street!  Or let your kid have a party with their friends from school. 

Whatever your plans are for when we are finished social distancing you need to make sure you and your student are reaching out.  Check in on your elderly neighbors, family members, friends, or people who might need help getting groceries, etc.  There are many ways for you to reach out without putting yourself and others in danger.  Encourage your student to do the same.  

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Hopefully, you found something here that will help you support your teen and even yourself through this strange and unchartered territory we are living in nowadays.  I know that it can be lonely sometimes and of course “boring” but it is for the safety of everyone and I truly believe if we do it right, we can save lives and that is important.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions or any other ways to support ourselves and our kiddos during this quarantine.  You can comment below or email me at  I would love to hear from you and how you and your student are holding up.  

As always thank you for stopping by and happy social distancing!

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