Updated: Apr 20, 2020
As this period of homeschooling becomes extended, more and more parents have been asking me about schedules. Some want a rigid schedule with specific times for everything. Others prefer no schedule and to go with the flow. (We are in fact in the middle of a pandemic!) To all, I have given the same advice. You may not need an airtight schedule but you need structure and routines.
It is true; we are in the middle of a global crisis. To act like nothing has happened and life has not changed is not only bizarre, it is also detrimental to your child’s and your well-being. (But that is another post!) We are all, in fact, dealing with a new norm but in establishing our new norm there are basics that should be part of each family’s routine, regardless of how it looks in your home. Prior to the health crisis, most children did not spend 10-12 hours on Xbox or social media, sleep at 3am and awaken at 2pm or eat meals primarily out of bags! There is no need for them to do that now. Try to establish a routine that incorporates things that were important to you before the virus.
Some suggestions for establishing routines include:
1) SLEEP- I start with sleep because it is so important. Sleep especially now can help regulate mood and anxiety and also supports the immune system. This is particularly important for those teens who want to stay up until 4am and sleep until 2pm. Research indicates that this type of sleep schedule can be associated with feelings of being unmotivated and can lead to depression. This type of schedule also makes it more difficult for your teen to be an active participant in family life since they are asleep for most of it!
2) MEALS- As easy as it is for you and me to skip a meal and then end up eating a not-so-healthy snack, it is easier for our children. What better time than now to model eating the right foods at the right time. Breakfast in the morning (not at noon), lunch midday, etc.. This helps keep blood sugar regulated, which affects us in so many ways. And if you didn’t before, this is a good time to make meals a family affair (the cooking and mealtime).
3) SCHOOLWORK- Teachers are sending varying levels of work. Some have 5 Zoom classes a day and others sending a reading or math assignment. At the end of the day, when we go back to school as we know it, teachers everywhere will have to level the playing field for everyone and start fresh. However, in the meantime, just as you did before this pandemic, convey the importance of learning. Schoolwork/ learning should not be an option. It should be part of every child’s routine, every schoolday. It should not be random and unexpected. Set specific hours whether it is 2 or 4 or the regular 6-hr day, whatever works in your home, but learning should continue.
4) PLAY!!!- 2, 12, 20; children of all ages need to play. I know because my 20-year-old is definitely in a better mood after she has been piled on, played MarioCart or even participated in a nature scavenger hunt. Even the inner child in you needs play. Playtime can look different for every family. We like outdoors and take daily bike rides or walks that include catch or a race. Board games, trivia, Wii fitness, paint night, cook-offs, dance party; you name it and try it! Discover what makes you laugh as a family unit and build in those moments in every day.
Most important in creating structure and routine is to include all family members in the discussion. Use this time to deepen the relationships and build community right in your family unit. Wishing you all wellness, body, mind, and spirit!