Inside: Schedule your day with kids to regain order and calm while sheltering in place. Find out how a routine can bring stability and peace to your family.
The dramatic change in our family’s life in one month’s time is mind blowing:
- I have instantly become a stay at home mom trying to balance work and kids all day.
- The kids have abruptly stopped going to daycare and school.
- And the car has been firmly planted in the same position for weeks.
My husband is the only one who hasn’t had his life change drastically. He still goes to work since he is considered essential.
We are sheltered in place until at least the end of April. That means that I am home with my kids all day. Something that my kids and I aren’t used to.
While we are enjoying more time together, the isolation has been an adjustment for all of us. It is very easy to get in the habit of sleeping in, watching YouTube all day and eating peanut butter and crackers for every meal.
But here’s the problem
Living like that only leads to chaos and confusion. Chaos and confusion ultimately lead to meltdowns and power struggles:
Parent: No, you may not watch TV anymore today. Find something else to do because I have work to do.
Child: There’s nothing to do!
Parent: What do you mean there is nothing to do? Play with your toys!
Child: I don’t want to!
And you know what happens next…it just escalates from there. You try to make your child do what you want and he just becomes more obstinate. In the end no one wins and everyone is stressed out and ready to explode.
Thankfully, there is a solution
In a recent post, I shared tips on how to stay calm with your kids at home all day. One of the tips I mentioned was to schedule your day. It is vital if you want to survive this new lifestyle we are temporarily engaged in.
A schedule is just a timeline for a routine. The times on our schedule are much more flexible being home all day than they are when we have to be to daycare and work at a certain time each day.
One day, we might have lunch at 11:00 and the next day at 12:00. It depends on how long other activities take us and whether my kids are asking for food sooner than later.
That’s why I suggest you establish a routine more than a schedule while you are sheltering in place, especially if you have younger children. Young children can’t tell time or understand what time it is. But they do know that nap time comes after lunch and snack time comes after nap time.
Older children may be more responsive to schedules because they provide specific times that certain events are to take place. Implement whatever works the best for your family. Since routines and schedules are closely related, they are used interchangeably in this article.
You may have heard the quote that says the less routine the more life. That may be true in some areas of your life, but not in surviving day after day at home with your kids.
Having a routine each day will instantly make your whole life easier. Don’t believe me? Try it for a week and I guarantee you will see a huge difference in the overall mood and energy of everyone in your family.
This is What Happens When You Schedule Your Day
In addition to improving the temperament of your family, these 7 things occur when you implement a routine or schedule for your family.
1) Normalcy and clarity
I don’t know about you, but I am craving for life to go back to normal. I want to be able to go back to the life we had before we had to shelter in place. My son is missing his school, teacher and friends. I am missing the freedom to hop in the car and drive to town, to the store and to the coffee shop for a latte.
The normalcy I am really missing is the everyday schedule and routine that I have taken for granted. We are now forced with a new temporary normal. Setting up a routine to match it will make this new situation we find ourselves in more tolerable and well…. normal.
Every night after dinner, my toddler says “All done. Bath.” She knows that when she is finished eating, it is time for a dunk in the tub. This was born out of necessity because she is usually quite a mess after eating. It is just easiest to take her straight to the tub in order to clean her up.
She is very aware of the routine and what comes after eating dinner. This is the same every evening and it helps her know what to expect even at such a young age.
After her bath, it is time for her to put her pajamas on, read a story and then go to bed. If we didn’t have a routine, it would be harder for her to transition to bed and to sleep.
When kids know the routine and can predict what will happen next, it makes the transition to the next activity much smoother. This is a win for both parents and children.
3) Structure and organization
To organize means to arrange something into a structured whole or order. When you schedule your day, you are arranging it into a structure that is organized and predictable.
Being organized with your belongings means there is a place for everything and everything is in its place (or at least as soon as you are finished using it). Having a schedule means that there is a time and place for each event in the day.
4) Healthy boundaries
We all encounter boundaries in life and for the most part they are good for us. They provide limits that are helpful in keeping us healthy, safe and good citizens.
Schedules provide boundaries on time and prevent children from spending too much time on an activity. They can’t take an hour to get dressed, eat breakfast and brush their teeth while singing the entire alphabet song twice.
Having set times for getting up in the morning, eating meals and going to bed at night curbs the temptation to get lazy and unhealthy. Something that is very easy to do when you are not able to leave your house.
5) Security and stability
All children crave and need boundaries because they keep them safe. Children often test the boundaries, but that is so they can ensure that they are really there and are going to be enforced.
Schedules provide children with the evidence and confidence that they are safe and secure. Knowing there is a set routine to their life helps them know what to expect.
Everyone’s world has been turned upside down including your children’s. They need something stable they can depend on right now.
The best thing you can do to alleviate any fear or stress they might have is to be there for them and to provide a routine they can depend on each day to make them feel secure and stable.
6) Increased productivity
With more time on my hands now, it is the perfect time to get tasks accomplished at home that I have been putting off. In order to ensure that I actually finish those tasks, I need a schedule to hold me accountable.
If I insert the tasks I need to do into my daily schedule I won’t have any excuse not to produce the results I desire.
Schedules also help children be productive. The time to do their chores, homework or tidy up all the toys strewn around like confetti in their rooms is set in the schedule. They have no excuse now!
7) A clear map to follow
A month ago, I got in my car each morning, started driving from my house and ended up at work. I followed a direct route each day that ensured I would get to my destination on time.
A schedule is the road map or the route we follow that clearly shows us how to get from the beginning of the day to the end of the day. It helps us navigate our day smoothly so that we arrive at our destination calmly.
While the world is pretty unclear and difficult to understand right now, you can provide clarity in your household if you schedule your day.
It shows a clear vision of each day and provides a lucid path to take. There is nothing like clarity to make you and your family feel confident and calm. With clarity comes peace and that is something we all could benefit from in our current situation.
Flexibility is key
The key to success with schedules and routines is to be flexible. There may be some days that you accomplish everything on your schedule and there may be some days you accomplish very little.
We have nap time scheduled in our routine, but my kids don’t take one every day. It just depends on how tired they are. Yesterday, my son took one, but my daughter didn’t. I have learned to have another activity such as a craft or a game available to do with my kids on those days.
Usually on the days my kids don’t take a nap, they go to bed earlier so their bedtime is part of our routine, but not a rigidly scheduled time.
If you try to follow a schedule down to each planned second, you are bound to get frustrated and all calm and order will fly out the window.
So, give you and your family grace during this time. Figure out the routine or schedule that works best for you and follow it with flexibility.
When you schedule your day, you will regain order, instill a calmer environment in your house and you won’t have to buy as much peanut butter and crackers.