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The Power of Routines During Chaos and Confusion

We are in the midst of a school year unlike any of us have seen before, and whether your school-age child(ren) are attending school virtually, in-person, or in some combination of the two, we’re all learning as we go.

And my guess is that whether it is going well or you are struggling, or somewhere in between, you feel like the degree of emotional labor you are putting in has ramped up. 

There are a range of emotions I’m hearing from parents now that school has started…do any of these sound familiar?

  • Relieved
  • Frustrated
  • Pleasantly surprised
  • Overwhelmed
  • Hopeful
  • Exhausted
  • Curious
  • Over it

If you’re like me, you’ve experienced *all* of these at one time or another, maybe all in the same hour!

And our kids are feeling all the feelings as well.  The reality is that we are creatures of habit, most of us.  And 7+ months of COVID (and now the fires in the west for many of us) have disrupted those habits and routines.

And as a result, many kids are feeling the uncertainty of that in really tangible ways.  I’m hearing (and seeing) kids that are more clingy, moody, fearful, anxiety-ridden, lonely, disconnected etc.

So as school gets underway, here’s a suggestion: Create predictable routines where you can. 

You might be thinking, well duh! Easier said than done right now.  And that may be true, but the reality is routine and predictability can be really empowering and calming, especially to children.  For adults, too.  They can make your life easier!

So whether you have toddlers, teens, or in-betweens, ask yourself where you can build some structure into your family’s days. 

Set consistent times for waking and going to bed (even on the weekends), plan consistent mealtimes, schedule your exercise and opportunities for everyone to move their bodies, and make sure that screens are off for the 90-minutes before bed (this is essential for restorative sleep).

You may even decide to build some other consistencies (and ease) into your weeks.

Maybe you do tacos every Tuesday, schedule consistent family game nights, hold a family meeting once a week at the same time, or enjoy or Friday Family movie nights (my personal favorite).

Maybe you create a one- or two-week meal schedule that you rotate again and again each season to make shopping, prep and eating easier.

Or maybe you set aside a regular night for parent self-care when the kids have to fend for themselves if they’re old enough.

The possibilities are endless, but whatever they are, the power of routines can be truly surprising and transformative when they are used to support rather than restrict your family.

In other words, create them, put them in place, and then use them when they work, get flexible when they don’t. 

I’d love to hear what routines are working for you right now—drop me a line or drop a note below and let me know!

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Christy Keating is a certified parent coach,  positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.

The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.