Life may seem like an endless series of adjustments, changes, and chaos. There is certainly a lot to adjust to, and it can feel overwhelming how easily the chaos outside can invade your home and your children’s day-to-day life. In this time of uncertainty, how do you create healthy family routines during this Coronavirus crisis?
1) Create Structure to your day
Step one to creating a health family routine is to create a specific structure and develop a daily schedule. This structure will look different for each family depending on what is happening in their lives and the ages of their children. Every family has a different rhythm as well, and structure does not have to change what works but simply enhance it. The structure will need to include the basics such as meals, school work, parent’s work, chores, and free time.
If you do not currently have a family routine, this will be a process and will remain a work in progress. Consider making the structure a bit rigid in the beginning and then start relaxing in certain areas and adjusting as needed. This should be something that works to relieve stress and confusion, not add to it. Definitely make sure your priorities get into the schedule, or that they will probably not get done.
2) Set clear expectations
Lack of clearly communicated expectations can be very confusing for children, and for parents for that matter. Make sure everyone, including yourself, knows what the goals are. Expectations can include:
- What time to start schoolwork
- Schoolwork must be finished before play time
- Breakfast is to be eaten before school
- Chores must be done before video games
Expectations should be clear and specific. If you do not communicate those expectations, it is very likely they will not be met no matter how well-intentioned your child is. It might seem obvious to you as mom that school needs to be completely finished before chatting with friends on the phone, but it might not be to your kid.
3) Be flexible and adjust as needed
Some routines and schedules work better for one kid but are terrible for another. Some children really thrive by getting up early and finishing all of their school before lunch. Others want to get up late, eat breakfast, and then finally begin their school. The beauty of your children being at home means you can offer them flexibility they could not have at school. Of course, this flexibility has to be within reason and still allow priorities to be met.
Examples of flexibility include:
- You must be up, have eaten breakfast, and started your school work by 9am but totally free to start as early as you would like
- You can enjoy screen time after school is done, whether that is noon or 4pm
- You can choose which school subject to work on first so long as it all gets done
This allows children to make some decisions for themselves, become more self-directed, and feel like they have some control over their disrupted lives.
One caveat would be that the degree of flexibility depends on the age and developmental stage of your child. A toddler eats breakfast when mom says so (ideally!), while older kids can have much more freedom. You as mom will know best what your children are capable of.
4) Establish boundaries
After establishing and communicating clear expectations, you then will have to create boundaries. Boundaries let children know what happens when expectations are not met. Boundaries need to be reasonable and clearly communicated. A child cannot respect a boundary unless they are shown clearly where that line is, especially when they are young. A boundary means nothing, however, if there is no consequence to crossing it.
5) Currency-driven consequences
In the context of our interview, currency is a valued non-essential entertainment or pastime specific to the individual child. Your child’s currency might be social media, playing video games, or reading fiction books. No parent likes enforcing boundaries, but it is important for a functional home. One way to set boundaries discussed in the interview is to use currency-driven consequences. This means crossing a boundary results in removing a currency for a specific time-frame.
- Child number 1: LOVES checking social media, messaging with friends, and talking on the phone.
Boundary broken: Has been texting instead of doing school work
Consequence: No phone until all school work and chores are done
- Child number 2: LOVES video games
Boundary broken: playing video games in the afternoon instead of chores
Consequence: No video games until the next day after all school and chores
Of course, this can be done with a healthy dose of mommy love, understanding, listening, and communication!
Creating a healthy family routine and setting boundaries can be challenging, but it is possible. We all need some order in our homes especially with the chaos of the world around us. You deserve it, and your kids deserve it.
Mommy Medicine is a group of moms that love sharing tricks, tips and strategies with our fellow moms. Send us your mommy questions you would like to see as the subject of a blog. We would love to hear from you! Subscribe here to receive posts straight to your inbox!
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (5/12/2020)
Photo by Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash