If everyday in shelter-in-place were only as simple as this photo! Social distancing and life in quarantine has been tough for parents with young ones and teens at home. I should know, I’ve got my two kids home with me for the rest of the school year. Juggling homeschool, shopping for food, working from home, and finding activities for all of us hasn’t been easy. At least I know I’m not alone!

If you want to study the impact that COVID-19 is having on families and parents, a diary study is a great way to follow the ups and downs of parenting right now. Done right, it may provide a much needed outlet for parents to reflect (and maybe vent a little) about their experiences in addition to giving you meaningful insights. This is just an outline, so please customize to your specific parent participants. (We made obvi free, so you have everything you need to get started now.)


Who to include:
5-8 parents

This diary study is designed for parents with smartphones and ok wifi—we purposely left out video to make it easier on parents (they have enough on their plates!). If you need a plan that’s friendly for cell phones and/or low-no-wifi, try a text-only study.

Research goal:
Understand how shelter-in-place is impacting families and habits in the home

3 weeks

Assignment format:
2 assignment per week, 1 medium effort and 1 low effort
We expect participants to spend about an hour total doing the assignments in our diary study plan. More on assignment types and effort here.

Recommended Incentive:
This varies, depending on your audience, objectives, and how time-consuming you choose to make your assignments. Pay people fairly for their time.


Week 1

💰time: Send a small starting payment. If Amazon makes sense for your participants, you can pay for and issue gift codes directly in obvi.

Assignment 1: The Challenge
Hi! What's been the biggest challenge you've faced with your kids at home during the covid-19 quarantine? Text us back here.

Assignment 2: A triumph
It’s Friday! Please text us about a triumph of the week and how it made you feel.

Week 2

Assignment 3: New habits
Happy Monday! Have you started any new games, activities, or hobbies as a family? Text us about them and if you can, send 1 or 2 photos or screenshots.

💰Send out a halfway payment here!

Assignment 4: A wish
It’s Friday! Imagine we could bring one thing to help you right now. What would it be? Text us your response.

Week 3

Assignment 5: Meals
Hi! What does a typical day of meals looks like at home right now? How is that different than before covid? Text us your response, and send a photo too if you can

Assignment 6: The future
It’s Friday! Tell us the first place you'd want to go as a family after the crisis and why.

💰time: Pay the final incentive! We recommend saving a bigger one for the end.


We are in uncharted territory as researchers, as people, and as families. It's important to provide a listening ear to the triumphs and struggles of parents right now. We hope that in addition to uncovering new needs, we discover things that bring families closer together too.