We are at a time of unprecedented change … the situation with COVID-19 is evolving on a daily basis and our lives are evolving with it. The regular places that children spend their time outside of their homes, like school and daycare, are currently inaccessible. For parents suddenly coping with working from home while caring for children the demands on their time can seem overwhelming. Having just a few routines in place can help the days go more smoothly for you and your child. Continuing with familiar routines like those at daycare or school can also help make the transition back to regular activities easier for everyone!
Who needs routines?
Routines can be for you, for your child, or for your whole family!
What is a routine?
- A set of consistent, predictable tasks.
- Occurs on a regular basis – can be daily or weekly.
- Has a beginning, middle and end.
When are routines useful?
- Times of day that always rushed or stressful – many people find mornings are the hardest!
- For activities that occur multiple times a day, like mealtimes.
- For transitions that always seem to end in a meltdown – a bedtime routine can help kids transition from play to sleep.
Where do we see routines in daily life?
Many schools and daycares rely on routines to provide structure and consistency in the day. Since children are at home right now with their families developing a home routine can help them adjust to this big change and will also support a successful transition once these activities resume.
Why are routines important for children?
Practice new skills
Learn to sequence activities and tasks
Reduce anxiety by with consistency and predictability
Communicate expectations through actions in addition to words
Support the developing concept of time
Once you have an idea of what activities or times in your day might benefit from a new routine, it’s time to start small.
- Choose one task at a time. A new set of expectations with many steps can be overwhelming – for children and parents! Choose one simple task that you and your child can complete consistently together. This may involve modeling what to do, talking about it, and giving your child an opportunity to practice doing their part. Once you have that mastered, then add in a new step.
- Start with an activity or task that is likely to be successful so that you have the opportunity to praise your child and they get to feel proud of themselves. Don’t try to tackle the hardest transitions first!
- Communicate expectations clearly. You can tell your child what to do with words, show them what to do with actions and remind them what’s next with pictures.