If you have kids of any age at home right now, you know by now that structure and routine can help any day go more smoothly. Building good habits and activities into your daily routine can provide educational learning opportunities, play, stress reduction, nourishment, and rest. Not every day has to be structured. And it’s healthy to allow for spontaneity and free time when you’re home with family. But if you’re looking for a roadmap to build a new daily routine with your children during this season of social distancing, read on for a few fresh ideas! These are some easy tips to build an excellent structure for your days at home.
How to Structure Days Spent at Home
Begin Each Day With A Morning Routine
Write down a list of things you’d like to work towards making a daily part of your morning routine. Then, look at that list when you wake up first thing in the morning. Or hang it up in the bathroom or kitchen, where it will be visible to your whole family. Ask family members for their input, too. Examples include: brushing teeth, taking a shower/bath, unloading the dishwasher, making beds, drinking coffee or tea, making and eating breakfast together, exercising, praying, meditating, or reading a daily devotional. Research shows that starting your day right ensures high productivity and overall well-being.1
Create Themed Days or Weeks
Try making each weekday a different theme if you are trying to work a curriculum or educational learning into your daily program. For example, designate each weekday with a different theme: Monday = art or music, Tuesday = math, Wednesday = nature/outdoor learning, Thursday = cooking, and Friday = science. You can choose more specialized themes, too. If you designate the whole week as a “nature theme,” for instance, you can break down each weekday into a specific topic—weather, bugs, water cycles, butterflies and birds, and geology. You can make each week a different theme, too. You may want a fun or goofy theme such as “pajama day” or “favorite sports team day.” Put it on the calendar so you and your family can look forward to it!
Make Time For Recess & Free Play
Sure, free play can happen naturally when you are relaxing at home. But suppose you are trying to create structure and routine in your daily routine. In that case, it helps children balance their dedicated learning time, knowing that they are rewarded with a block(s) of time simply for playing in the yard or doing age-appropriate free play indoors. Furthermore, free play is essential for kiddos because it helps them develop their social-emotional skills, release endorphins, sleep better at night, and boost their immune systems. That’s a win all around!
Try To Eat At Regularly Scheduled Times
Aiming for certain times of the day to be set aside for eating helps to structure the day. For example, if you want to sit down for dinner at 6 pm, you can work backward to plan your afternoon routine to have dinner at the end of a series of activities or chores. Additionally, if you can try and eat at least one meal together as a family, research shows that eating together promotes families’ mental health and well-being.2
Take Time Apart From Family Members
As much as we may love being around our family members, it can be healthy to take breaks, as well. This can be especially important if you have young children so you don’t get burned out caring for them. Babies and toddlers can be high-needs individuals, and doing something relaxing or rejuvenating for yourself while they sleep or another family member watches them is crucial to maintaining your health and well-being. Taking a break can look like spending time alone in a separate room and engaging in an activity you enjoy, taking a shower or nap, or sitting on the porch in the sunshine with a cup of tea in quiet solitude. It helps state your intention and request help from other family members to understand you are looking for a break (and will be returning soon).
Reach Out To People For Social Connection
Isolation can be a real problem during this time of social distancing, even for people who live with others. Make a point to reach out to another person outside your home at least once daily. Reach out virtually, make a phone call, send a text or e-mail, write a letter and mail it, or use video conferencing such as FaceTime or Zoom to spend time with friends and family. You may want to consider contacting friends you haven’t called in a while or even asking your local senior center if there are elderly residents in your community who would like a friend or pen pal to communicate with during this season of social distancing and quarantine. When you reach out to make a positive connection, you spread kindness, which benefits you as much as the other person!
Build In Time For Rest And Relaxation
Resting and slowing down your body are great ways to ensure you don’t get overly stressed. When the body is stressed out too much, it can weaken your immune system. During this season of COVID-19, everyone can benefit from having a strong, healthy immune system. Take a short nap after lunch or spend a few minutes reading, writing, or meditation in the middle of your morning or afternoon routine. Not only will you emerge feeling calmer and more peaceful, but your body will also thank you, too!
Exercise At Least Once A Day
Including time for exercise is a great way to stay mentally and physically healthy. Moderate amounts of exercise strengthen your immune system and promote emotional well-being by releasing endorphins and helping you sleep better at night, a time of rest critical for the body to heal itself. Exercise can be as short as a 10-minute workout each day. If you can exercise for longer, go for it! Some ideas include social distancing walks in your neighborhood, yoga, HIIT, barre, or Zumba classes online (YouTube has a great selection of free workout videos, and many gyms and celebs are streaming free workouts now), jumping rope, riding a bike, or lifting weights and stretching on a workout mat.
This season may be a change from what we are used to, but it can also be a wonderful opportunity to reflect, rest, and innovate as you create new routines for yourself and your family. In what ways do you create structure for your days at home?