Two weeks ago, I blogged about how to talk to your children about Coronavirus. As we settle into our new “normal” of doing almost everything from home, and mostly on-line, I want to highlight now more than ever, how important it is for our children to maintain some form of structure and routine.
When we provide routines for our children we give them a sense of predictability; the structure provides reassurance that there is some stability, and thereby can reduce stress. While we may not be able to maintain their previous schedules and routines, we can make new ones for them.
Here are some important guidelines to follow that will provide structure and a sense of security for our children. Of course, these can be tailored to fit each family’s needs:
- During weekdays, have a specific wake-up and bedtime, just as we did before COVID-19.
- Have children follow the schedule of their virtual school and morning routines. While they may want to remain in their PJ’s during school, it is important that they perform all their usual morning activities, i.e., brush teeth and wash face and hands, eat breakfast, make bed, prepare all necessary materials for their school day.
- Lunchtime should be in the kitchen, or in a different room from school to provide a change of scenery.
- When school is finished for the day, children can enjoy a “break” before completing homework assignments. A healthy snack and some down-time and/or physical activity are helpful in rejuvenating our brains.
- Physical activity should be programmed into the children’s day – this is very important as physical activity is an effective way to remain healthy, physically and emotionally, and, it provides a distraction from being inside. Walks with pets and family members seem to be popular. If we have a home gym or a large backyard, we can have our children alternate the type of exercise they have each day.
- Okay, this one’s a toughie – we need to ensure that our children eat healthy. It’s easy to overeat due to stress and/or boredom. Having guidelines as to what and how often our children eat will help to keep them healthy.
- Let’s be flexible and realistic with how our children are responding to their new routines. Remember, our children are adjusting to their new lives just as we are. It’s natural if we have difficulty concentrating right now.
- Socializing is very important. Whereas in the past we may have shuttered and shunned texting, Instagram, Facebook, and other forms of social media, it’s important now that our children have a means to connect with friends and family. You can have all sorts of virtual gatherings from dinner parties to study groups, craft activities, and reading books to young children. Whatever form it takes, socializing is important right now as it serves as a distraction, prevents isolation, and keeps us in touch with significant others.
In conclusion, I always like to find the silver lining in every cloud. For example, I am really enjoying preparing and cooking meals with my family. And group facetime chats with friends are a hoot! It’s fun to have conversations with our children to learn what their silver lining looks like. They will make us laugh and find something to enjoy each day in these difficult times.
If you would like more information about how to help your children adjust to their new lives, please feel free to reach out to a psychologist at Coastal Psychological Group, we are here to help you. 818.730.0855
I hope you all stay healthy, and remember, try to find something to smile or laugh about every day, it’s good medicine for the soul.