Originally Posted: March 19, 2020

Author: Krystal Hawkins

Monday, March 16, 2020 is the day the government of Saskatchewan announced school closures by the end of the same week. We were afforded four days of preparation before our children would be home indefinitely. It is important that we take some time to adjust and mentally prepare for this change. That might mean our children spend a few days in ‘vacation mode’ while parents take stock, plan, and prepare for a new ‘normal.’

Do You Prefer a Schedule or Routine?

Generally speaking, people (children and adults) function better when following a routine or schedule. The predictability fosters a sense of comfort and safety. Knowing what to expect also primes our minds to be ready for the next activity. This ‘priming’ is especially important for children if we want them to follow our lead with little resistance. 

All families develop their own style of routine or schedule. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to develop these routines and schedules because there are so many individual variables to consider. Many families follow a combination of schedule and routine. Most families followed a schedule when children were going to school. The family had to be up, fed, dressed, and out the door at a certain time. This is a schedule. Think of a schedule as a routine attached to time. 

Now that children are not attending school, families may still follow the wake-up, eat, get dressed routine but there is more flexibility as to when that happens. Routine is the sequential order of events that let everyone know what is expected next. As you develop your new ‘normal’ consider what model best fits your family needs. Does your family function better on a schedule, routine, or a combination of both?

Event VS Routine

You will recognize the ease of routine when your children easily comply with your expectations. Events are routines in the making. Parents may find that creating a schoolwork routine is difficult at first. Each day brings another event that children may resist or avoid until they believe they cannot change the outcome and learn that complying is easier and faster than resisting. The transition from event to routine can take hours, days, weeks, or months depending on the event, the person, and the motivation. 

The basic rule of behaviour change is to expect behaviour to get worse before it gets better. This means you must stay consistent with your expectations. Easier said than done! Consistency is the most difficult part of behaviour change. If you are experiencing difficulty with maintaining consistency, consider connecting with one of our counsellors for support. 

Simple Ideas for Planning Together:

 

  1. Consider hosting a family meeting and generate ideas about projects, crafts, baking, playtime, or cleaning activities. Plan for one focus activity each day that fits into your general schedule or routine. Post this calendar in a visible space (fridge, kitchen cupboard, bathroom mirror, etc…).
  2. Create and post your daily schedule or routine. This can be as easy as writing each activity in a list on a paper. You could also print each item on magnetic paper and allow the children to arrange the routine for the next day on the fridge before bed.

Examples of Krystal’s and Melissa’s Daily Routine: 

Krystal: We live on a farm and the children are 10-16yrs old 

  • Breakfast, clean kitchen, brush teeth, dress
  • Movement or chores – outside play, yoga, walking, weights, calisthenics, YouTube video or other exercise programs to follow
  • Free time (may or may not include screens)
  • Reading or schoolwork or personal project
  • Free time (not on screens)
  • Lunch and clean kitchen together
  • Family activity – board game, cards, craft, outside play
  • Focus activity for the day (pre-determined the day before)
  • Free time (may or may not include screens)
  • Supper and clean kitchen together
  • Evening family time

Melissa: We live in the city with four children aged 5-9 

  • 6:30 am Wake-up – television or quiet activity
  • 8:00 am Morning Routine (Breakfast, Family Devotion/Prayer, clean kitchen, brush teeth/hair, get dressed, make beds)
  • 9:00 am Individual Centres (4 stations/20 minutes each)
  • 10:30 am Outdoor Play/Physical Activity
  • 11:15 Lunch Routine & Chores (Meal prep, clean kitchen, chores)
  • 1 pm Quiet Time (maybe screens, reading, puzzles, colouring, tabletop toys)
  • 3:15 pm Games or Outdoor Play
  • 4 pm Supper Routine (Meal prep, clean kitchen, tidy)
  • 6 pm Evening Family Routine (T.V, family book, walk, games)
  • 7:30 pm Bedtime Routine (pj’s, teeth, reading in bed)
  • 7:45 pm Reading Lights Out
  • 8:00 pm Couple Time!