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Routines help keep families happy

The following are some ideas from Larissa Mills, director and founder of IparentGen.com, for parents who are spending a lot of time at home with their kids during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Larissa Mills
1. Keep bedtime routines! Of all of the things to keep, it is bed times, and their routines. The same time, the same baths and the same book reading too. We are maintaining a Monday-Friday school night routine.
2. Create a schedule that works for your household. Consider the entirety of your day and what you need to achieve each day. How many work hours you need to do, can you split them up? Making dinners, keeping kids busy and on track for school and in a routine that is designed around your household. This is a good time to help teach your children Manners, Etiquette, how to change a car tire, driving lessons, cooking lessons, knit, Go Fish, teach them something, if they wish. Planning helps them stick to meal times, clean up times, outside play and screen time if you allow it. If you have Essential workers in the house like I do, this adds a whole layer of worry and work. Extra cleaning and extra worry. My husband is an ER doctor, which comes with a myriad of issues right now.
3. Include outside time. This depends on ages, and local prohibitions really. Younger kids may be able to ride scooters/bikes, go to a park trail, river etc. Older kids may be able to go fishing, play basketball at the school, (if no one is there), play soccer, hockey etc. Video tape their slap shots/tricks in slo-mo so that they can send it to their friends etc.
4. Monitor Screen time but you can allow more TV during these strange times. They can watch Netflix while playing with Lego or dolls, whatever works. Psychologists are simply advocating that you do what you need to do to get through this. Additionally, keeping to a framework of a routine is going to settle everyone. Try it for a week, if something is not working, tweak it. If they have one hour or more a day during this isolation then just keep a mental chart of how much screen time they are having. If kids are gaming, keep a timer on them and if they ask for more, show them the schedule and stay firm. Once they see the schedule and help create it, they will adjust. Consistent parenting is going to help your family through this.
5. Block off time to hang out. Each one of my children have very different emotional needs. One needs to snuggle, another needs to play cards, another likes me to watch horror movies with her. We compromise on old school thrillers as mama does not do horrors anymore. Each child can make a list of things they would like to learn or play.
You can also take this time to teach your children valuable life skills depending on their age, and your skills. Do (or redo) your taxes with them, teach them how to put your summer tires on, get their help when doing laundry or teach them to cook/bake. When building a schedule, take into consideration both their and your needs.

Larissa Mills, B. A., M. Ed. is director and founder of IparentGen.com.