Developing routines for the family | Advice for Parents | Jigsaw

Developing routines for the family

Developing routines for the family

Tuesday, 07 July 2020

As social distancing continues, there is a lot of talk about the importance of routine.

It makes sense to try to retain a level of stability in an uncertain world. But, developing a routine to suit everyone in the household can be a real challenge.

picture of a calendar with pins designating certain dates, post its notes, and a clock signifying a routine

How can a routine be helpful?

  • Helps communicate and manage expectations for everyone in the household
  • Maintains a level of productivity and motivation
  • Ensures that important things get done
  • Necessary for a quality sleep routine
  • Helps differentiate weekends and relaxation time
  • Creates a feeling of comfort in a time of so much uncertainty.

Why is routine a challenge?

Let’s face it, for many young people getting out of bed when there was a bus to catch or lecture to get to was a challenge. Now there is less pressure to maintain appointments. Schedules can be flipped without the usual parameters. Maintaining motivation without the usual support of friends can be difficult for young people.

Our physical worlds have become smaller, with less delineation between spaces and activities. The lines that helped us maintain routines have become blurred.

Boredom can have an impact. The fewer tasks there are to do, the less motivation we have to do those things. We procrastinate because when we know there is so much time in front of us.

Added to this is the need for all members of the household to compromise. If one person has found a routine that works, but it doesn’t fit with the needs of others in the household, it can lead to conflict.

Coping styles in times of change

Different people are coping in different ways. Someone staying in bed all morning might look lazy. But consider that they might actually be spending time processing their emotions. They may also be feeling overwhelmed. The person who looks exceptionally busy and organised may be trying to maintain a feeling of control.

Even with the best intentions, routines and schedules can fall through.

What can help maintain routine?

There is no right or wrong way to approach developing a routine for the family. Schools and workplaces may have expectations and ideas. Parents in your WhatsApp groups might be sharing fantastic schedules and plans. These can all lead to a added sense of pressure.

The most important thing is to find something that works for you, and your family.

Be flexible

The situation with Coronavirus is changing all the time. Everyone is figuring out how to respond. So flexibility is required. What worked at the start might not now. Be prepared to try new ideas and see what fits for you. If possible try to be explicit with young people and include them in changes and trials.

What are your minimum expectations?

Taking it right back to basics, what are the minimum things you need to include in the day? For example, do you have an expectation of shared meal times, or a certain amount of time spent studying? Are you expecting everyone to be up and dressed by a certain time? What are the minimum expectations you have of your young people? Have you been clear about these?

As we adapt to the changing situation, there maybe some rules you can relax for now. For example, you might allow more screen time for young people. Decide where the boundaries are and what you can negotiate on.

Get everyone on board

Try to encourage everyone in the household to talk about what they need from a routine. Share why you feel it’s important and what you need. Be prepared to listen and make compromises. Remember communicating clear expectations and agreeing a way forward will really help.

Don’t expect perfection

Even with the best intentions routines and schedules can fall through. Parents and young people will have bad days. Motivation will wane. When this happens, stop, take a step back and take stock. If it was just a blip, draw a line under it and start again tomorrow. Or adjust the schedule.

Ultimately, there will be a point where routines will go back to normal and that will be a new challenge! In the mean time, be as compassionate as you can with yourself and those in your household. You are doing the best that you can in tricky circumstances.

Watch: Parents talk about how they have developed routines

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