Setting Up a New At-Home Routine in Times of Uncertainty

Has social distancing and the school closures shaken up your daily routine? These changes to our daily routines and activities can be stressful and cause some anxiety. With no school, no work, no events or activities to go to, our days might be lacking structure. This lack of structure can make everyone feel a little stir crazy! Children thrive on structure and routines, especially during times of stress and uncertainty. Creating a new at home routine can help your days at home go more smoothly! Here are some tips for setting up a new at home routine:

Follow regular morning and bedtime routines.

Try to keep the same morning and bedtime routines as when you were going to work and school. Get up around the same time, get dressed, have breakfast, as if you were going somewhere. This will keep the familiarity of your old routines and help you get going in the morning and be productive. This can be especially helpful if you have work you need to do. Having a consistent morning and bedtime routine can also help with behavior because children know what the expectations are during these times.

Set aside time for household tasks or chores.

Taking the extra effort to set aside time for household tasks in your routine can help you feel productive, gives children something to do, and gives them some responsibility and independence. The household tasks can be simple and don’t have to take a lot of time. You could assign certain tasks and set aside just 30 minutes to do some chores as a family. For example, someone washes the dishes, someone wipes down the counters, puts away the toys, etc. Taking the extra effort to incorporate this in your routine can help your days go smoother in the long run.

Set aside time specifically for learning.

There is still so much learning kids can do from home! Many schools have provided materials on school websites for at home learning and there are many great resources online. Check out our page Resources for Families in Times of Covid-19 for some great educational activities. For at home learning, you could set specific blocks of time for certain subjects. For example, set aside 9:00 to 9:45 for reading, 10:00 to 10:30 for math related activities, 10:30 to 11:00 for science activities, etc. Or you could set aside a chunk of time for academic activities in general and just go based on your child’s interests. Setting aside specific time for learning activities in your routine will help kids focus on learning and know the expectations for learning time.

Set aside time to do something creative.

Learning is important and so is creativity! Kids may be used to creative outlets in school like music or art. Make sure you set aside some time for your children to do something creative that they enjoy, whether that is listening to music, singing together, playing music, doing an art project, or fun craft activity. Creative activities are great ways to keep children busy with something that is fun and interesting to them!

Set aside time for movement or to get outside.

Playgrounds and play-dates may be off limits right now but there are still things to do outside and ways to get moving! Getting outside and moving will help get rid of some energy, reduce stress, and boost mood. All things that can help your days go smoother! Aim to go outside at least two times in your routine, even if it’s just a short walk around the block. The great thing about outside is it’s the perfect space to let kids use their imaginations and get moving how they want. If you can’t get outside or want to try some movement inside check out these suggestions for physical activities.

Set aside some quiet time.

Make sure you schedule some downtime into your routine to give your children some time to be quiet and rest. Having a set downtime each day can help kids relax and gives them a space to be calm, which can help with behavior and mood. Younger kids might be used to napping and might sleep during this time.  For kids who don’t nap, this could be a time to read quietly, do a puzzle, or a quiet activity. This could also be a great time to do yoga or meditation. Check out Resources for Families in Times of Covid-19 under Mental and Behavioral Health for some resources on mindfulness and tips for how to help kids de-stress. This could also be a time for you to get some work done or do something for yourself.

Set aside time for free play

Make sure your children have some time to just play in your routine. Play helps kids relieve stress and gives them time to just be themselves. This is really important in a time that can feel uncertain and stressful. Free play can be a great time for you to play with them or use this time, while they’re busy, to do something for yourself or get some work done! Have them use this time to explore and choose what to play, it doesn’t have to be learning focused. Whether it’s dolls, Legos, blocks, playing outside, dress up, cars etc, just let them have fun!

This is a stressful time and having a daily routine in place for your family can help bring structure and reduce some stress. Don’t worry about following your routine perfectly; things will come up. New routines are always challenging to get used to at first but in the long run they can help your days at home go smoothly. Stick with it and be flexible!

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Text: © Kids In Transition to School 2020

Image: © Kids In Transition to School 2020




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