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The New Routine

We know children need structure and routine to feel safe in their constantly changing lives to help them organize their time, and to help them regulate their emotions and impulses.  My family and yours have just found our usual routine pulled out from under us. 

My five children are home from elementary school, middle school, high school, and college and my husband and I are both working from home.  So in addition to finding a space for everyone to work in 1800 square feet, we needed a new routine to relax into.  Some of us were ready for a tight schedule, written down, and hung on the refrigerator.  Others were horrified by this idea, we felt trapped, smothered; we needed a simple, flexible schedule.  But recognizing what we all needed, being sensitive to everyone’s concerns, and with some creativity we have found our new routine.  It is not perfect, some days are really tough but we can always try again tomorrow. 

Here are some quick thoughts on creating your routine:

● Let your children help create the schedule.  They are much more likely to buy in to the new routine and will have some great ideas.

● Figure out the necessities:  get up, brush teeth, get dressed, school time, meals, chores, bed time

● Add in the fun stuff:  creative time, outdoor time, screen time, family game time, free time

● Older children need more autonomy.  My college aged son does the necessities but then fills the rest of his day as he would like.  My 10 year old made a tight schedule for himself, usually follows it, and wants me to be involved in a big portion of his day.   13 – 15 year olds are somewhere in between.

● Find something to look forward to each day and build it into the schedule. ; This could be a live feed (we love ”Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems” and many of us gather around at 1pm every day to see what will happen next), a movie, a family game, a scavenger hunt, a call to Grandma,… 

● Be flexible don’t let the schedule become oppressive.  It is okay to deviate from the schedule or even ignore it completely some days. 

Remember that a routine will help alleviate stress and fear, it will eliminate power struggles, it will help children cooperate, it will foster independence, and it will help everyone complete the necessities.

Here are some links to help you with your new routine:


Monica Whalen is the Network’s Conference Coordinator


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