Lesley McNeely, Counsellor and Educational Coordinator
Have you been feeling a little edgy, restless, or out of control? You are not the only one.
As our daily lives and routines have been disrupted we have trouble marking the changing days and weeks (Is anyone else feeling flabbergasted that April is almost over?).
There is a lot of evidence to support the importance of routines. We have all read parenting books that tell us our toddlers need routines but our older children, and we ourselves need them too. Often when I suggest routines to people I get push back. Sometimes people tell me they don’t like to be “rigid”, or that they just like to go with the flow or that routines cause them stress.
I am here to urge you to give them a try because routines can actually alleviate stress. They make us feel more focused, they eliminate decision making, and they give structure to otherwise aimless days and weeks.
So, how do you build some routines that will actually work for you?
- Don’t be rigid. Your routine is not a carefully constructed minute by minute detailed plan of your day
- Do be flexible. If something happens to disrupt your routine, that’s ok, take a breath, let it go (the breath and the routine)
- Set a task or chore for each day of the week and invite your kids to help
- Monday – laundry
- Tuesday – clean bathrooms
- Wednesday-bake something yummy
- Thursday – tidy bedrooms
- Friday – plan weekend hike
- Sat – family time
- Sunday – plan your weeks meals (don’t want to shop more often than you have to)
- Start small and general
- Set your alarm for the same time each week day
- Go to bed at the same time each night
- Turn off all screens 1 hour before bedtime (read a book or read out loud together)
Once you feel confident you may try to plan your day, maybe it will look like the one below, maybe not. .
An example of a routine that might work well for a family staying at home is:
- Set the alarm and consistently get up at the same time each day.
- Eat breakfast and tidy up.
- Do a craft or play a board game
- Go out for a walk
- Have lunch
- Do school work (take a nap if you are little)
- Go for a walk
- Prepare dinner (together as a family, or rotate each kid helping)
- Clean up together
- Movie time or board game time
- Story time (no matter how old you are end your day with a book not a screen)
- Sleep (at approximately the same time each night)
The point to the routine is to create a sense of flow to your days and weeks. To give everyone something to look forward to and some structure in which to get things done. Have fun, enjoy your time together as a family, and soon enough we will be back in our overly busy lives.