Children LOVE routines. The routine of going to school is something that helps children feel safe and secure. Uncertainty causes them stress and makes them more emotionally unstable.
When your child’s school is closed due to Coronavirus, it may feel like is a time to relax the rules and go with the flow. However, children will benefit from a routine that they can predict and understand. You will find they are happier and more able to deal with difficulties if they know what is happening each day.
If possible, it’s good to talk them through the following day’s plans when they go to bed, so they know exactly what is going to happen the next day. Then go through the plan again in the morning, so everyone knows what is happening and when.
It’s good to plan the following:
- What time will you wake up?
- What time does everyone needs to be up, dressed and ready for the day?
- What times will you have meals?
What’s on the menu? Create a meal plan based on what food you have.
- Time for a walk or cycle ride, if you can go out safely. Or, alternatively, spending time in the garden (fresh air and exercise will be great for everyone’s physical and mental health.)
- Time for learning – What topics will be covered? Will you use books or the internet? What questions does your child have? What do they LOVE learning about? What stories could they write? Could they work out solutions to maths problems?
- Quiet time – what time will that be? What will each of your children do during quiet time? Read? Write? Play? Colouring? Drawing?
- Play time – what do the children enjoy?
- Quality time – try to spend at least 15 minutes a day one to one time with each of your children. Where you play or talk, and you are the best version of yourself, happy, relaxed and totally focused on your child, and their needs.
- Exercise time – what can you all do to have fun? Could your child plan an exercise class for you all?
- Screen time – try to limit this to an hour a day. Or a maximum of two hours. Although TV YouTube, gaming and smart phones can be distracting, children are more likely to be irritable and grumpy after screen time, which will make it harder to keep home a happy place. Ask your child what they want to do during screen time and plan it. Set a timer and when it goes off, that’s it, time to do something else.
- Get your child to write a list of all the games and activities they can enjoy doing at home. Then see if you can plan to do them. Help your child with suggestions, to add to the list.
- Set aside time for play. That can include board games, card games, ball games and rough and tumble.
- When will you schedule ‘imaginative play?’ This can range from dressing up, to creating wonderful imaginative worlds.
- What can the children do to help prepare food and meals? This would be a great time to make meal preparation a family activity.
- Dance and movement – just put on some music and dance! Add extra fun using silk scarves or disco lights. Or get out the Wii and rediscover some active games you can enjoy.
- Plan ‘down time’ time to just chill and relax, preferably without screens. You could even talk your children through a meditation, guided visualisation or progressive relaxation routine.
- Plan a solid bedtime routine and make sure your child or children go to bed at a good time. This also applies to you. Your children need you to be at your best, so it’s important to get 8 hours (or more) sleep yourself.
It would be great if you could sit down, with the family, and plan your routines today, so that your child’s world becomes more safe and secure, and family life can become predictable and more certain.
A final important benefit to setting up a good routine, is that your child will emerge from social isolation with better mental health. Routines create security during times of anxiety or upset. Having a good home routine will help your child cope better when dealing with uncertainty and chaos. Not just now, but for years to come.