The amount of sleep we get and whether we feel refreshed can make or break our day. It can be a battle to get off to sleep when we are feeling uncertain about the future. Even though we all know how important it is to keep a good sleep routine, it’s never popular to suggest going to bed 30 minutes earlier. Evenings are precious and sometimes it’s the only time parents get to themselves. Weigh it up with the alternative and prioritising sleep makes a lot of sense. We boost our immunity when we get enough rest. We need reserves so we can look after others – especially if someone in the family falls ill. In an ideal world we can get up and get ourselves ready the next morning before the kids wake up so we can have a bit of well-deserved peace.
- 2. Walk
Exercise helps lift our mood – plan a pack walk every day. We get some movement and time in nature. Kids have energy to burn and some of them need to run like dogs or they will destroy the furniture! Even if you don’t have a dog, get outside to get some oxygen into the brain. Make the routine to go for the pack walk when everyone gets up, or else they grow roots and it doesn’t happen. There are so many reasons why we benefit from a pack walk in our routine, including Vitamin D production, another immune system booster. Set the tone for the day and have time for bonding during the walk.
Transition and uncertainty add stress to families. There’s a lot of panic around now. We can’t avoid it. We can minimise the nasty aspects by talking to kids about our views and shining a light on the positive aspects. Get into the routine of talking about the current situation in the world and how we are affected by it. Instead of looking at the doom and gloom, focus on the practicalities. There are small things we can do every day to improve things for ourselves and others. Look for helpers and point this out to the kids. There are groups springing up in local communities to help out neighbours and those in need. Parents don’t have all the answers yet, we’re figuring it out as we go along. When we involve the kids they can learn collaborative skills. Get children to contribute and come up with some ideas of how to make things work for everyone. This is a new way of being together and we need everyone to cooperate to make it work. The kids also need to know that while we need them to be involved that we are in charge and we will keep them safe. https://gtgparenting.co.nz/2020/03/16/we-are-their-safe-people/
- 4. Social
Different temperaments will find aspects of the changes we are facing more or less challenging. Some of our children will thrive if they have to spend extra time at home and they won’t miss the social interaction they get at school. Other children who are more extroverted and get their energy from being around others will find it less easy. Saying “I’m bored” for some children is code for “I’m lonely”. We need to think about how to make sure that these kids get contact with their mates in their routine even if we can’t have playdates. Respond to these unpleasant feelings with some emotion coaching and avoid going straight to solutions. Give wishes in fantasy instead – “Wouldn’t it be great if we could send smoke signals as messages to our friends?” Our kids will know we “get” how they are feeling. These small gestures build connection with them.
Are you a parent who likes to plan or would you rather just wing it? Some of you are going to love this idea of creating a visual planner for the family routine. Other parents are not as keen on set routines and will find the idea restrictive. Kids benefit from knowing what is going to happen next. This does not mean an excel spreadsheet. The aim is to get a routine going which means you can set aside times for different tasks at regular intervals. Don’t expect too much from younger ones, they are going to need more help and one on one. Plan in some quiet times or watching netflix so you can get things done and plenty of time for play to reduce stress. Gather ideas at a family meeting and when you’re happy with it get the children to make the planner. Kids are more likely to buy in to the idea when they make it. Review the planner and get the kids to self-evaluate how they are doing. Expect to have some days where things don’t go as smoothly as you’d like. It’s a work in progress. We get there a little at a time. Not all at once.