The recent pandemic that has swept across the world has left everyone reeling. If adults are finding it difficult to veer from their structured daily routines, it’s even more difficult for children to live with the unknowns of day-to-day life. Creating structure and routine can make these unpredictable times feel more tolerable. It can grant children a sense of security that has a positive impact on their overall mental health.
It’s easy to see why structure and routine are necessary while we deal with the shutdowns associated with COVID-19. However, it can be difficult to know where to start. How can you go about establishing some semblance of a routine for your family?
Here are a few simple suggestions that you can implement to make your family run more smoothly during this unprecedented time:
Set Aside Time to Review
Many parents want to jump right into their brand new schedule and routine. It can be exciting to switch things up and start implementing changes right away. Unfortunately, children might need a bit more time to adjust. Before you dive headfirst into your schedule, set aside some time to review the upcoming changes with your child. This allows them to see what is expected of them, as well as letting them know when they can anticipate play time or free time.
Create a Morning Routine
Now that your child is likely out of school, it can be tempting to sleep late in the morning and lounge around in pajamas until lunchtime. This leisurely morning might not be in the best interest of your child, though. Instead, you should consider setting a wake up time that is similar to what they would have if they were going to school in order to minimize the disruption to their regular routine.
You should also encourage your children to get up and get ready for the day, regardless of whether you are going outside or not. They should take care of all regular hygiene activities like brushing their teeth, taking a shower, and washing their face. These are simply good habits for them to develop and it creates a sense of routine and stability.
Stick to a Bedtime
What difference does it make if your child stays up a few hours later watching television? It isn’t like they have to wake up early for school the next day. This kind of thinking appears innocent but can wreak havoc on your structure. The best thing you can do to create some sort of structure for your kid is to stick to a bedtime. Try to mimic the same routine that you would ordinarily follow if they were going to school.
Schedule Meals and Snacks
When your kid is home all day long, it can be easy for them to open up the pantry door and rummage around for a snack every few minutes. You can prevent some of this unwanted snacking by instituting scheduled meals and snack times throughout the day, just like they would have had at school. This keeps kids from eating junk food all day long and creates a sense of rhythm for their day. When they know when their next meal or snack is coming, they can pace themselves better instead of constantly asking for more.
Establish a Workspace
If you have made the transition to working from home, then you know how crucial it is to have a quiet work space. Similarly, your child likely has school work to complete now that they are home full-time. Try to set up a comfortable place that is free of distractions for them to work. Maybe you can set aside a corner of your dining room or establish a spot on the sofa for them to work independently.
Once you have a work space established, make sure that your child is using it the way they are supposed to. Set aside time on the daily schedule for them to complete all their assignments. Make sure that more challenging tasks or classes are scheduled for earlier in the day when your child is well-rested and focused on the material. Subjects that are easier for them should wait until later in the day as their energy begins to wane.
Allow for Breaks
It may not seem like a lot of school work to you, but your child may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of completing all their work at one time. Make sure that you include space in your schedule for breaks or free time. If your child seems particularly frustrated or overwhelmed during the day, this is likely a sign that they need more downtime than they are currently getting. Encourage them to practice a hobby, pick up a new creative outlet, or play outside for a little while. Anything that gets them up and moving can be a great way to break up the day.
Veronica Wallace is a blogging enthusiast. She loves applying her knowledge of writing and marketing to new content pieces. Some of her best work has been featured on the Kidthink. Kidthink specializes in offering clinical treatment of mental illness in children aged twelve and under, along with community outreach and training for this type of treatment.