How to Create Routine When There Isn’t One

Posted by Emily Morehead, MA, LPC on 3/23/20 9:15 AM
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I don’t know about you but last week was full of meltdowns for my toddler. He feels confused that his routine is off, he isn’t going to school, and let’s be real, he is probably confused why I’m cooking food instead of going to a restaurant. Our first day of working from home was a bit of a free for all because we don’t even have structure yet as we adapt to the new normal of mom and dad both working from home with both boys.

Routine is key for children because it teaches them felt safety through knowing what to expect. You don't have to have a beautiful color coordinated schedule with graphics to create this. Here are a few tips:

Morning & Night Routine- It is important to preserve any form of routine that you can with your family. Morning routines such as waking up, getting dressed, and eating breakfast can provide the typical daily structure. Wrapping up the day with typical nighttime structured routine can help our children signal that it’s time to start resting instead of staying up too late and throwing off the entire next day.

Educational Activities- Just as you would drive them to school to start the day find a way to get them engaged in learning. Provide a transitional reminder to help guide them into this transition. Especially because the car rides to school are now not present. Find ways to engage their brains with technology, nature, cooking, physical movement and play. Each child learns differently so if a learning platform isn’t working switch it up!

Behaviors- Look for the need behind the behavior. Did your child get anxious after the morning news was on? Is there a meltdown after too much screen time? Children don’t always have words for feelings so they tend to ask for their needs to be met under the veil of negative behaviors.

create routinePro tip- Movement helps regulate behaviors so when you see behavioral needs get higher implement a dance party. It brings in movement, play and connection. Last night we learned the cha cha slide and it helped regulate our ENTIRE family.

In summary- acknowledge. This routine is different. The day-to-day life is different and that’s hard. Set the example for talking with your child in an age appropriate way and validate their feelings. Sharing with your child “this is different and we are finding our way” is a beautiful way to acknowledge the new normal while reminding your child that you are there to be a safe pillar for them.

I wish you health and dance parties.

Topics: Mindful Parenting, Tools & Resources

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