We are all creatures of habit who find a sense of normalcy in having a routine to help us through our daily lives, right? Routines set our children up for success. Not having one can be determinantal and cause unnecessary headaches for parents, as predictability helps our children feel safe and secure. Creating a routine during this unprecedented time, due to COVID-19, is especially important in keeping everyone in your household on track. Routines are extra helpful if you are a parent working from home trying to balance the tasks of work, online schooling, and home life all in one. While there is no magic spell or secret to creating the ideal home routine, there are various things you can incorporate to make each day a little bit easier to manage. You should create a routine that is structured, clear, and accountable for your family.
Create a Schedule
Physically writing out a daily schedule that is located in a place that everyone can see (think bulletin board or your fridge door) allows you to stay on track and follow through with what is created. Set out specific time blocks for schoolwork completion, outdoor activities (weather permitting), free time, quiet time, family activity, and rest time. Also, include time blocks for meals so that children maintain a healthy food schedule as well.
Set Wake Up and Sleep Times
Ensuring that your children get enough sleep is crucial to their overall mood and productivity. Don’t allow them to choose their bedtimes or sleep in until “whatever” hour if they have a rigorous online school schedule. This will also allow their internal clock to stay on track in preparation to move back to normalcy in the coming months. Setting a bedtime each night sets an automatic expectation that they have a set number of hours for schoolwork and play throughout the day and they understand when wind downtime begins (an hour or so before bedtime). Wake up times are just as important as bedtimes. Don’t allow children to oversleep or sleep half the day away as it will lead to a day filled with lazy behavior and lowered mood. It is okay to be more lenient on weekends based on a changed schedule for those days.
Get Up and Get Dressed
You should aim to start your day the same way, at least, Monday through Friday. Transitioning from bedtime to morning start-up should include the physical aspect of changing from your pajamas to your daytime clothes. This will increase mood and focus and lay the foundation for the start of a new day.
Adding in an hour or so of daily movement before or after breakfast will increase energy and mood while keeping a focus on the importance of exercise. Whether you decide to turn on a yoga YouTube video or go outside for a walk around the block, make sure you incorporate movement into your child’s daily routine.
Schedule Time with Your Children
Although we are all stuck in the house together right now, it is important to include some mom and dad time in a child’s daily routine. Sit down and read a book together. Assist with schoolwork. Invite them to help you make breakfast for the rest of the family. One-on-one time is just as important now as ever.
Our children are learning to juggle a host of new things from online learning to being stuck in the house all the time, so it is imperative that we communicate with them in an open and honest manner. Be mindful of how this change may be affecting their feelings and mood. Talk to them about anxiety around the virus, sadness from missing their friends, confusion from not knowing how long this will all last… whatever it may be, discuss it with them.
Although we are all learning to navigate this new normal, there can be silver linings found throughout this trying time. Because we have been forced to stay home, we are spending more time with our families. That is a gift in itself. Understand that this will not last forever so enjoy the little glimmers of hope and happiness just as they are.
Routines are essential to create a sense of normalcy in this unparalleled time. Create a routine that works for you and your family and be open to making changes as necessary to accommodate certain days of the week, your work schedule or the children’s school schedule. Share your schedule with your children and have fun learning and growing together.