Pandemic Planning: Creating a Schedule

December 15, 2020

By Stacy Leatherwood Cannon, M.D.
Henry Ford Health System

With coronavirus continuing to grab headlines and physical distancing orders still in place, every day tends to feel the same.

More parents than ever are working from home, have reduced hours or may even be out of work due to the pandemic. Those who are working at full capacity may feel the strain of trying to balance work and childcare. Many schools and extracurricular programs have been moved online or canceled.

With both parents and kids feeling the stress of new daily routines, it's more important than ever to create a schedule that all family members can follow.

Staying On Schedule

When schedules are off (particularly sleep schedules), children and teens may be at greater risk for depression and anxiety. Younger children may act out because they have increased energy with no outlet. The good news: Creating a schedule — and sticking with it — can help everyone feel more grounded.

Children thrive with an understanding of the daily routine. Knowing what to expect and what they need to do reduces anxiety and helps kids feel more in control.

A few ways to achieve an effective schedule:

• Make it a family affair: Instead of drawing up a schedule and expecting everyone to stick to it, involve your children in the process. Call a family meeting where you come up with sleep and waking times, mealtimes and breaks. Kids are more likely to embrace a new schedule if they played a hand in creating it.

• Enforce bedtime: Children doing remote learning may not have to rise as early to make it to school on time. Even so, it's important to set a regular bedtime so they can remain on task during daylight hours. Your best bet: Establish a bedtime routine that includes calming activities (like a bath and reading) and ensure your children go to bed at an appropriate hour. School-aged kids should get about 9 to 10 hours of sleep each night.

• Stick to mealtimes: Keeping mealtime consistent allows for a structured break where kids and parents can reconnect and troubleshoot when necessary. This is especially important with older adolescents who may work independently during the school day. Unfortunately, what works for one family member may not work for another. Ideally, families should work together to establish mealtimes, then adjust based on each individual's needs and assignments.

• Encourage breaks: Kids and adults alike become zombie-like after sitting in front of a screen for extended periods. For children who are distance learning, frequent breaks are especially important. The younger the child is, the more breaks they need to stay engaged. That said, even older kids should take breaks every 30 minutes or so to walk around, get a snack and do some simple stretches. Better yet, take your breaks together and do some jumping jacks or share a snack as a family.

Successful Scheduling

Coming up with an effective schedule that the whole family can follow is not something you do at the last minute. Plan for the week ahead over the weekend. Sit down as a family and discuss what worked — and what didn't — the previous week. Then tweak as necessary.

Most important, be patient. These are unprecedented times for all of us. And while we have months of experience dealing with this pandemic, transitioning back to school has brought new challenges.

Try to shift your focus toward the perks of this experience. This is a rare moment in history when families can come together and spend a lot of quality time together. It could be a time of growth and transformation for your whole family.

Concerned about how your children are managing the pandemic? Help is available. To find a doctor or pediatrician at Henry Ford, visit or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

Stacy Leatherwood Cannon, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician and the physician champion for childhood wellness for Henry Ford LiveWell. She sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Centers in midtown Detroit and Sterling Heights. Learn more about Dr. Leatherwood Cannon

PHOTO: Novi's Abigail Pheiffer, a senior on the MHSAA Student Advisory Council, gets in some wall sits during a break in her day. 

How To Warm Up Correctly Before Playing Different Sports

July 10, 2024

When you see professional athletes gearing up to race or getting ready to take the field, you’ll notice that they’re always in motion. That’s because they are warming up in preparation for going all out.

Henry Ford HealthAnd there’s a good reason why you’ll never see a pro go straight from the bench into a full sprint. “You need to allow your muscles to gradually accept the demands of your activity,” says Jennifer Burnham, a certified athletic trainer at Henry Ford Health. “Otherwise you risk causing an injury.”

Why You Should Warm Up

As the name implies, a warmup is a series of movements designed to warm up your muscles. “You want to increase blood flow to your muscles and loosen up and lubricate your joints,” says Burnham. “And you need to do it gradually, so that your body has time to adapt to the increasing intensity.”

Warming up involves more than just stretching. According to Burnham, studies have actually shown that holding a static stretch when muscles are cold can decrease performance. “Instead, before activity you want to do a dynamic warmup that incorporates movement as well as some gentle stretching."

Your warmup only needs to take 5 to 10 minutes. When deciding what to do, think about the movements you’ll be doing in your activity and which muscles and joints are most involved. Then choose movements that slowly get them warmed up and primed for more intense action.

How To Warm Up For Different Activities

No matter your sport, the warmup before your workout should include some exercises to activate and engage your core (the abdominal and back muscles). “Waking up those muscles helps decrease injury potential,” says Burnham. She suggests incorporating bridges and mini squats (no deeper than 45 degrees) into your warmup routine. To do a bridge, lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Tighten your stomach muscles and squeeze your butt as you lift your hips up to form a straight line from knees to shoulders.

The rest of your warmup can be more specific to muscles and movements of your planned activity.


Before a run, or even a jog, you want to warm up all the muscles and joints from the waist down.

  • Rotate your hips (lift your knee up and do some circles in both directions to move the joint) and ankles (circle one foot at a time both clockwise and counter-clockwise).
  • Get powerful muscles like your glutes and quads ready with high knees and butt kicks.
  • Walk on your toes and then on your heels to warm up shin and calf muscles.
  • When you’re ready to run, start off slowly and gradually increase your speed.

Racquet sports

You still need to warm up your lower body using the same moves as the running warmup. But you’ll want to add in others specific to the upper body movements of tennis, pickleball or other racket sports.

  • Warm up shoulders with big arm circles both forwards and backwards
  • Circle your hands in both directions to get wrists ready for action
  • Lunge forward and rotate your upper torso to increase your spine mobility

Basketball, soccer and football

You want to make sure your lower body has time to adapt to the demands of sports that require bursts of sprinting and quick shifts of direction. Your warmup should gradually increase in speed and intensity as you move your body in all directions:

  • Side shuffles while swinging your arms (shuffle in both directions)
  • Grapevines in both directions
  • Skip forward, lifting knees high, then skip backward


Prepping your body for a swimming workout means warming up your arms, shoulders and upper back.

  • Circle arms backwards and forwards
  • Use a light resistance band to do shoulder rows
  • Use a light resistance band or light dumbbell and lift straight arms up to shoulder height in front and to your sides
  • Start with an easy tempo freestyle swim before going into more dynamic strokes like butterfly

Jennifer Burnham is an athletic trainer who sees patients at the Henry Ford Center for Athletic Medicine in Detroit.

To find a sports medicine provider at Henry Ford Health, visit or call 313-651-1969.