Right now the world is in crisis, a pandemic. People are working from home, or not at all. Children are schooling from home. Grocery stores and pharmacies are limiting people inside and small businesses are shutting down. Each day the news changed about the status of what we as a society were allowed to do. The rules kept changing, our routines were disrupted, the rules changed again. Uncertainty became the new norm. Humans, some more than others, need routine in order to have calmness, to have clarity, to feel human.
Many may have noticed a sense of stress, anxiety, worry creep upon them. Some may not know what that feels or looks like because it is so new – they have not experienced this. It can come in many forms including irritability, irregular eating, and sleeping, racing thoughts, you may or may not experience disassociation. There are so many more things these are just a few – why do we have them? Because the world is unbalanced and the rules have changed.
While trying to establish a new learning routine, your children may be feeling these things, but not be able to voice them. You as a parent on top of your feelings of uncertainty may be facing children who are weepy, or angry, or outright defiant. Setting up learning time may prove to be difficult.
Here is what I want you to do: STOP! This level of stress and anxiety will prevent learning and prohibit productivity. It can take 4 to 6 weeks for your body and your child’s body to adjust to the new normal and routine. Attempting to learn prior to establishing a sense of calmness may impact your child’s long term ability to handle stress in the future, and capability to retain any information taught at this time, in addition to creating future learning disabilities.
Embrace the new normal first, then we can baby step school back into the picture. What does your new normal look like? You get to decide.
Building a routine, that allows for self-care, will be a great tool for re-establishing a sense of normalcy to your life. Here is a loose schedule that can be adapted and tailored to your family’s needs.
Have a quiet morning, with a good breakfast.
Allow for free play or expressive art (drawing/watercolor) or sensory play (sand bin/playdough). During this time read to your child or listen to audiobooks. Minimize screen time.
Lunch – make meals a family event, use this time to help your kids learn about how to make a meal, portions and if possible, food groups.
This is a good time to put in a structured activity. At first, it can be an art/craft or STEM project. Make it fun. In future weeks we will use this structured time to apply to learn. For now, it's fun.
Outside! If you can get outside do it. Go for a walk around the block, ride bikes, or allow kids to play outside in the yard
Meditation time – YouTube has a lot of free channels with guided mediation my favorite is New Horizons
Your usual bedtime routine
There is a lot of the day left, you do not have to schedule every single moment of the day. It's okay to allow time for relaxation, meditation, and self-reflection. Also, as you become familiar with your new routine, we can add bits in for schooling in a few weeks.
Please contact your primary care provider if you or your children are showing signs of depression or suicidal/self-harming tendencies or thoughts, or failure to thrive.
List of supporting articles:
Coping with the Coronavirus pandemic for People with Anxiety https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/coping-with-the-coronavirus-pandemic-for-people-with-anxiety-disorders-2020032619327?fbclid=IwAR2uuH7Amc1yNmOWKUDMEsyUtIWPOonTAB4M2nd9VxsElWk4S6nnzsIOoSk
The Power of Routines in Your Mental Health https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-gen-y-psy/201810/the-power-routines-in-your-mental-health?fbclid=IwAR0efwwIUW47pO6rmnN74IX3yxnWgLW7p_S-6bsCemUY5xQ6qGYV9u51pqI
5 Quick Tips Reduce Stress and Stop Anxiety https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-cloud9/201308/5-quick-tips-reduce-stress-and-stop-anxiety?fbclid=IwAR2uuH7Amc1yNmOWKUDMEsyUtIWPOonTAB4M2nd9VxsElWk4S6nnzsIOoSk
Tips for Managing Anxiety and Stress https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress?fbclid=IwAR0efwwIUW47pO6rmnN74IX3yxnWgLW7p_S-6bsCemUY5xQ6qGYV9u51pqI
Why are Routines are Important for Children? http://www.educationfirstinc.com/en/media-a-publications/articles-our-blog/91-why-are-routines-important-for-children?fbclid=IwAR3gCED8et86x-XUho0NzeL4dnUbblgJa-5NAyYPshkgKMMreBe4PihL8ug
5 Signs its Time to Seek Therapy https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201303/5-signs-its-time-seek-therapy