This will be the first post I am writing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in our country, and for good reason. I (as well as all other parents out there!) have been so busy keeping my little one entertained, educated and fed. All with only a few (hundred) meltdowns ;D
With the national orders to “stay at home” or “shelter in place,” most of us parents are finding it difficult to cope with the new life we’ve been assigned. Whether or not you are a working parent or stay-at-home, finding balance in a new “cooped up” environment can be a huge challenge.
Parents who work outside the home may now face the challenge of having to complete their tasks from home with the additional job of teaching their children’s studies. And parents whose role is to stay at home now lack the outside resources of socializing to help them get through each day.
Whichever role you hold, it is important to note that every parent (and person, for that matter) is going through something they would have never imagined they would have to face. While trying to fulfill your family’s basic needs will always be a priority, at some point you may want to add a little structure to your day.
Adding structure to your day will create a sense of security because it will fulfill expectations. In our lives before the pandemic we had every day expectations: kids go to school, go to the gym after work, friends over for dinner on Saturday, soccer practice, date nights, etc. But without the ability to do these things we once took for granted, we now find ourselves scrambling for normalcy.
How do you re-create the “normalcy” you have lost? Take some of these steps to regain structure in your life. I guarantee by even just doing one or two of these simple things you will find staying at home with your family just a bit easier.
1. Create a morning routine
Creating a morning routine is one of the most (if not the most!) important way to add structure to your day. By having a consistent set of tasks you complete every day, first thing in the morning, you are setting yourself up to have a more organized, smooth day.
Even if its just a 2-3 things like making your bed, drinking a glass of water and writing down three things you’re thankful for. I promise this will be something you will begin to look forward to! If you need more inspiration for creating a morning routine, I have an entire post about it!
2. Plan one activity every day
Your kids are definitely going stir-crazy by now which means you are probably beginning to pull your hair out… Literally or figuratively! 😉
Remember how exciting it is to plan a vacation or special party and count down the days on your calendar? Do that with your family! Have something planned each day. Try to make it simple enough that you won’t dread preparing for it, but something the kids will look forward to.
Maybe its a DIY Taco Tuesday or a sidewalk chalk art contest on Thursday. It could even be a walk around the neighborhood planned for after dinner one night. Why do you have to plan a walk?? Because when you plan something out you are much more likely to follow through with it!
So grab a white board, calendar or piece of paper and write down what you’ll be doing each day, put on display for your family to see!
My family has a movie night planned every Friday where we put tons of blankets and pillows on the floor and watch a movie together! We look forward to it every week 🙂
3. Get a goal chart started
And add some chores on it too! What do you put on it? If you’re finding that your kids are struggling with getting out of their pajamas to get dressed for the day, make “get dressed” a goal. Have a toddler you’re trying to potty train? “Use potty chair” could be another. “Did the dishes,” “folded laundry,” “exercised,” and “work on homework” are all great goals to have!
Keep some stickers handy or a marker to check off each goal accomplished as the day goes and set a reward and a time when they can earn it! Don’t forget to get mom & dad involved, too! The kids will love seeing that your goals are important too.
4. Get outside
Okay, this one may seem obvious but…. its very important! You’ve been told about all the health benefits of getting vitamin D and how the fresh air is great for our mental health, but how often do you spend outdoors, just to relax and… be?
What I mean is, make it a point to spend some time outside to just do nothing. Let your kids run around while you just observe. It will be a nice break from the “cooped up” feeling you’ve acquired from the four walls of your home and you will reap the health benefits. Too hot out? Too cold? Then set a timer for 5 minutes. You can do it!
5. Play with your kids
Don’t forget to play with your kids. Get involved with what they’re doing. Ask questions. Share your passions, too. Remember that despite feeling exhausted and mentally drained from days at home, your kids are sharing part of that burden, too.
Their lives have also been upended; they’re no longer having the supportive structure of school, sports, outings, and they are missing the social benefits of their friends. Its your turn as a parent to play that role. It might be tough – I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes dread playing with my daughter.
So plan out the time with your kids! For little ones, tell them ahead of time, “Mommy wants to play with you! I can play for 15 minutes right now.” Set a timer and be fully engaged during that time (no phones, TV, etc.). You can even prompt what you would like to play so you can get more excited about it. For older kids, invite them to do something they might find interesting. “Hey, what’s that video game you’re always playing? Think you could teach me?”
Whatever you do, remember that quality time is key here and will impact your kids so positively during this time.
Finally, I want to remind each one of you that you are doing the best you can. Life is really hard right now and you don’t have to be the super parent who Pinterest’s all her meals and looks like she has it figured out every day.
The days that I don’t even get out of my pajamas or brush my hair, let alone cook, I call “Survival Days.” My goal during these days is to do just that – survive. But I’ve learned that with each day, if I can add even just one little thing to make some structure, I feel better, my family is happier and in the end if all else fails, we are still alive and healthy.
As a reminder, don’t be too hard on yourself during this crazy time and please remember to continue social distancing. If you need anything, reach out to me.