Who thought we would still be social distancing, wearing masks, or not returning to work or school right now? It has been a huge adjustment to have our kids home all day and try to entertain them. Lots of rules or routines have gone by the wayside and we are in survival mode! I bet when you heard the news school was delayed or remaining virtual, there was a big groan and thoughts of “How will we get through this”? However, this is a good time to regroup and reset for the Fall. Here are a few suggestions on how to regain control and create routines for your kids at home and a few tips for yourself to remain calm.
Give Yourself a Break- this is a time that is unprecedented, and no one knows how to navigate it 100%, so relax and keep trying! You are doing the best you can! It is best to not take children’s behavior personally, but to know the behaviors are reacting to the environment.
Maintain a Schedule in the Home- set up a board in the home with a daily schedule that includes a wake up/bedtime, meals, schoolwork, and fun activities. This will allow for accountability and for your kids to know what to expect from the day.
Allow for Individual Time- you do not have to be “the cruise director” for your kids 24/7. Depending on their age, give time throughout the day for individual time. This can help siblings have a moment of separation to relax, it will allow you to have a moment to regroup, and it will give your children an opportunity to use their imagination to play. When thinking how much time siblings have been only allowed to play together since March, or children depending on you for fun, or you not being able to refill your cup- having some time during the day to separate will be healthy.
Set up Workspaces- with going back to school, there is a question of how can we still work and help with school? One idea is to set up separate places in the home with a desk or chair and all school supplies or work supplies. This is a special place where kids can go to be in school and know this area is a safe place to pay attention. It also allows you to know where they are and have concentration to work. It is also helpful to set up a room that is for play. These separate areas will signal to your child the tone and if it is time to work or play.
Monitor Technology Time- we have all been relaxed on this since being at home but when resetting for the new school year, it is a good time to set limits on how much technology is being used. This will allow more time for creativity and exploring for your children to help them grow.
Allow your Child a Place to Vent- as anxious as we may feel, our children are feeling it too. Recognize when some behaviors are coming from a scared or worried place and validate that for your child. If you feel their behaviors are them acting out, then appropriate consequences should be given in a consistent manner, so your child continues to learn to ask for what they need in healthy ways.
Set up Self Care Moments- for us to continue to pour into our kids and work, we need to pour into ourselves. Give yourself a break during the day to do something you enjoy- reading, sitting quietly, enjoy a cup of coffee, exercise, etc. Also encourage your kids to do the same, by practicing mediation, going for a walk, read a book, or even yoga for kids! Allow times for your kids to connect with you by playing Rose and Thorns at dinner, or ask them 5 things they like about themselves and 5 things that went well during the day.
Starting school can be a good time for a family meeting to discuss a new routine or implement some of the tips above. It is so helpful to tell your kids ahead of time what they should expect and what you expect of them. Allow your kids to also give input on what they want their school space to look like, or what fun activity they want to do for the day, so they have an added incentive to participate. Do not be afraid to give consequences for unhealthy behavior, it will not be added stress for your child but to help them feel boundaries and safe. The most important thing is to be consistent and maintain the routine. Anxiety lowers when we know what to expect and provides a high level of cooperation. Again, know “you got this” and you are the best to model for your child!