Throwing off routines can throw kids for a loop. When spending a day (or more) at home, some parts of the daily routine should stay in place, while others will have to be adapted to the situation at hand.
The benefits of routine
Repeated actions provide stability. So it’s key to set up a routine for your children, since they want to know what’s happening, what’s planned for them. Recurring activities also given them autonomy: they can go through their day without always having to check in with you. In a way, routine helps them take responsibility and is reassuring to them.
A clearly defined schedule
Planning out the daily schedule doesn’t need to be boring: how about making a colourful motivational chart where you can post icons illustrating the various activities? Include your kids in the scheduling process so they feel involved. Post it on the fridge door or somewhere they can see it easily, at eye level—this will let them follow the flow of activities on their own.
As you plan out these days in advance, think about setting aside dedicated moments to spend with your children, despite your professional and personal obligations. Give them at least a few minutes when they can have your full, undivided attention. This quality time is precious and so important for building a great relationship.
What should not change
Kids should start and end their day the same way every time. To ensure a smooth transition between ordinary and out-of-the-ordinary days, morning and bedtime routines should stay unchanged as much as possible.
Set aside time for your children, between waking up and starting the day’s activities, to have a morning routine that will keep them on track for the rest of the day: making their bed, putting away their pyjamas, getting dressed, washing their hands, brushing their teeth, eating breakfast, etc.
Bedtime should also stay pretty much the same each day. This will help your children fall asleep quickly, get a good night’s sleep and feel well rested (and therefore in a good mood) the next day. So even on the odd day when everyone stays home, get dinner on the table early enough so their little tummies can digest the meal before they go to sleep.
Variety is the spice of life
Alternate between responsibilities/chores and fun time: you can’t expect your children to spend the entire morning doing schoolwork. They definitely need variety in their activities to stay focused, interested and motivated.
Also diversify the activities you plan out to avoid boredom. When it’s time for schoolwork, do a different subject each time, schedule exercise and reading time, make up songs to memorize new ideas, put together a game show to test knowledge, re-explain the lesson with stuffed animals, etc. There are plenty of ways to have fun while learning!
The same principle applies to entertainment: alternate between screen time (which should not last more than an hour straight each day), reading, visual arts, physical activity, practicing musical instruments, putting on a play, etc. And let your imagination run wild: you can do arts and crafts without running out to the store. Use what you have around the house, or order online if you really have to. An empty milk carton can just as easily become a spaceship… or a whale!
Setting up a balanced routine will ensure a healthy lifestyle for your family. And these tips work for the adults too! Just like for little ones, routine helps you organize what you need to do, and structuring your time helps you manage the stress of your busy life.
Take a moment to learn about ourKiddy Plan and Peek-a-Boo Plan. Also read our articles in the My Family section of our Advice Zone to understand, among other things, why to take our life insurance for your child, and the importance of work-life balance.