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When in quarantine, keep your kids in routine!

Written on April 19, 2020

Why is Routine in Quarantine Important?

We are in the midst of a great time of uncertainty, one we never would have fathomed in our lifetime we would see. As adults, we are processing a myriad of emotions including confusion, anger, fear, sadness or possibly even joy as we savor the extra moments with our family. Luckily, as adults, we have learned how to cope with these feelings in an organized manner which helps get us through day after day (most of the time) and adapt to a new daily routine.  But our little one’s lives have turned upside down too, and they are just learning to cope with these emotions. We as adults have to recognize the emotions our children are feeling and continue to give them the tools to cope with our new, temporary way of life.  

What can sadness look like in your child?

  • Anger
  • Defiance
  • Tiredness
  • Displaced frustration
  • Boredom 
  • Sense of disconnection

No need to fear if any of this looks familiar with your child.  Here are some simple ways to get your child back on track!

  1. Maintain a routine.  Kids thrive off of structure as it gives them a sense of security, control, help establish positive habits and healthy relationships.  Keep your child’s bedtime, wake time, breakfast, lunch and dinner time consistent with your normal routine. A visual schedule, whether written or illustrated with pictures, can be an easy way for your child what to expect throughout the day.  
  2. Incorporate plenty and even extra time for gross motor play or outdoor play.  While engaging their whole body and large muscles through play, they are receiving input to their proprioceptive sensory systems which is responsible for emotional regulation and arousal level. 
  3. Keep electronic/device time to a minimum.  Many of us are facing the added new parental challenge of working from home with our kids present.  It seems an easy fix to keep them independently engaged is to allow extra screen time. However, they are only missing out of opportunities to grow socially, cognitively, and emotionally.  Encourage them to play a game with a sibling, create art, build and invent. This will facilitate problem-solving skills, turn-taking and symbolic thinking necessary for growth across all domains.  
  4. Create task boxes or busy bags.  It’s as simple as gathering plastic boxes, bags, etc. and gathering activities and materials necessary for a specific activity and place in bin.  Keep the activity simple and structured for your child to easily access independently. Some examples may include, color sorting paper clips, pom poms, or buttons into corresponding containers; various note cards with alphabet letters written on each card along with clothespins to match upper and lower case letters; or small, simple lego designs printed out to build different structures.  
  5. Listen to music.  Take a walk. Do breathing exercises.  Or other mindfulness exercises you can do together with your kiddo.  Take a sensory break and focus on things you both see, smell, taste, touch and hear.  Engaging your senses increases body awareness and help manage our emotions. 
  6. Decrease mindless eating.  Remember that daily routine?  This adheres to an eating schedule as well.  Most kids are used to eating breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner.  Keep dessert and other sugary sweets limited throughout the week. Make sure your child is getting proper nutrition as science shows a connection between brain-gut and releasing endorphins, our feel good hormones.  Also, make sure your child is drinking plenty of water to decrease mindless snacking and hunger.
  7. Engage your child in daily occupations.  Have them get dressed daily, make their bed, help complete household chores, assist in preparing meals, garden, rake, help with putting groceries away, setting the table or call a family member.  Occupations are any type of activity that gives meaning to a person’s life. 

Remember, we are all in this together and our children’s emotions are vulnerable.  Use this complex time in our lives to make the most of learning experiences for our children.  Doing so will make them emotionally, mentally and physically stronger in the long run. We are all in this together. Stay strong and stay healthy, keep going, you got this. 

Written by: Jamie Blough