Parenting With Kristen


What to do with your children during this time of crisis? Begin with Routine and Structure

Recently I jumped on Facebook and did a few “FB lives” on my pages. 

We are all in shell shock over what is happening with the rapid spread of the virus and I want to provide you all with as much support as I can during these uncharted times. 

Today I want to talk to you a bit about routine.  

In our day to day life, for most kids and adults, routine is a biological need, especially for children who generally don’t have much control over their lives.  During this period of social isolation, and the extent of the period of time that many of our kids will be out of school, (2-6 weeks) figuring out a routine as a family unit will be paramount in these first few days. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean you need to turn your home into a school and have an alarm set for every transition, nope, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about getting together and establishing a new normal. 

This new normal, in my mind, will bring families closer than ever before, and allow you all to create systems and habits that hopefully will last a lifetime.  But before we get into specifics, let’s take a look at some of the benefits and reasons for routine.

The Rationale Behind Routines

Building routines into your daily life takes work.

It’s up to you as the adult to FACILITATE these routines as it doesn’t happen overnight. So keep it simple on yourself and tackle these in bits.

Routines are important for a multitude of reasons.

They provide structure.  Children really don’t have a lot of control over their lives.

They wake up, go to school,  work in class during work time, go to lunch when told, play when told and go home to complete household jobs (chores) participate in organized sports, homework and maybe play for a bit with a neighbor friend.  Then it’s dinner, bed routine, sleep, and repeat. 

For our children in Montessori classrooms, this is altered a bit in the fact that during their work time, (ideally they are in an environment that has a 3 hour work cycle) they are free to choose their work, but again, there is a hidden structure and routine in that cycle that the children find comforting. 

The expectations for work are clear.

Routines are also critical for children because they build trust and safety.  

Think about the count down to a major vacation or other special event in your families’ lives? 

How many times your child ask, “How many days until we leave?”  or They blast you with the exact number of weeks, days and hours left until the said event. 

While outwardly it may appear as if this is all based on excitement, and don’t get me wrong, there is excitement there, but there is also a bit of underlying uncertainty. 

There is a bit of fear, trepidation and anxiety. 

This can be reassured with lots of talk about what it’s going to look like.  They may be asking detailed questions about how you are going to get to the airport, or whose going to take care of the dog, or other details. 

Children have a need for order and to understand their routine in order to feel safe and secure.  Again, this comes back to the point about the overall lack of control in their lives.

When the child is engaged in creating their own routine, they begin to develop a strong sense of independence and autonomy.  They begin to feel confident, and powerful, in control of their lives and capable of making decisions. 

Routines help the children develop a sense of pride. 

They know what is coming next, and are often able to move onto the next task or portion of their day, without a lot of adult interaction. 

I remember the first time this happened at our house. 

It was summer, and the girls and I were home, I’d gotten caught up in work, and lost all track of time when I looked up and saw the time was nearly 2:00.  Oh gosh, I’d forgotten to fix lunch.  I ran upstairs to find them playing happily in their room.  I rushed in to apologize and my oldest let me know that she’d fixed the lunch for the three of them. 

The sense of pride and accomplishment on her face was priceless.  (yes, I did have a bit of tinge of mother guilt)

Once the routines have been established, and a schedule and plan figured out, the day to day tasks of life become more efficient. The expectations are clear, ownership has been established, and follow through becomes, well, routine! 

I hear you, yes, you are saying, that’s all well and good, but … my child/family….(insert excuse here).  Believe, me, we’ve seen in regularly in our classrooms and we know that if you follow our suggestions, you’ll begin to see it in your home as well. (and maybe even have a bit less frustration on WHO is going to take the garbage out)

We’ve also found that once the routine has been established and kind and firm expectations and follow through have been established, there is less conflict in the family. 

The ghost child, “Not Me” no longer lives in the home, and you have a clear and open line of communication established. 

Nope, it’s not going to be perfect, it never is, but what I can tell you is that the burden of the functioning of the household will be lifted and you’ll have a bit of a lighter load.

Up next, creating your own family chart

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