My last post was about “putting on your oxygen mask.” This one is about doing something really practical that is also linked to positive mental health…
My next suggestion has to do with keeping a schedule. The times we are in currently can be very stressful for adults and children alike. There have been quite a few studies done on the effects of routine on mental health. The results show a positive correlation between keeping a routine and having good mental health. This is especially the case for children.
Many of our routines have been disrupted, and there is not much that we can do about it other than to be flexible. In our house, we are trying to form new routines where we need to, and to keep our old routines where we can.
2 – Get on a schedule
I would be lying if I said that we were doing a stellar job at keeping a schedule. However, to the degree that we have been keeping a schedule, it has been really helpful. I put this as one of the first items on the list because for my family it has been the most useful thing we’ve done.
If your children are older and are capable of entertaining themselves, then maybe this one won’t be so important for you. At 6, 5, 3 and almost 10 months, there would be a coup d’etat in my household if I didn’t enact some kind of a game plan.
It took me about two weeks to start to get my footing on this one. You might be in the same boat. If so, that’s okay! At least, I hope it is, because I’m right there with you!
Working from home
If you also have to work from home during this time, then having some order and structure in your day is going to help you out a lot. If you are suddenly finding yourself not only working from home now but also homeschooling, then I’ve got to say, I’m impressed!
If you didn’t work from home before the coronavirus outbreak, and now you, like millions of others, are working from home, then here are some tips for working home successfully that might help you add some structure to your day. Full disclosure, my husband wrote this article and it is written for engineers. However, I think anyone who has found themselves working from home who isn’t used to it will find it helpful.
A schedule that works for you
A schedule doesn’t have to be managed down into very specific time increments, it doesn’t have to be strict and it doesn’t have to be inflexible.
My advice is that a schedule should be a list of things you want to get done in a day and roughly the order in which you plan to tackle each item. There may be one or two big items that are on the “must do” list. You are going to have to prioritize.
You don’t necessarily have to prioritize the same things every day. Maybe three days a week you really need to focus on getting your work done and on those days you don’t worry about whether or not the kids are doing “school.” Then, maybe on three other days you really focus on having quality family time and doing things with your kids.
Those are obviously just suggestions, everyone’s situation is unique, and only you know what your priorities need to be during this time.
One thing that I try to always make a priority is quiet time. Enforcing a quiet time in the afternoon is a sanity saver for me. I am one of those people who needs some time to myself. During this time of “staying home” it is even more difficult than usual to get that time to decompress.
I would absolutely be lying though if I said that I’ve been very strict about quiet time since this quarantine started. You would think that staying home every day would make this one easier to do, but somehow that hasn’t been the case.
You know that having a schedule and a routine will be good for your family. It can be easier said than done, especially during strange times like these. Just keep in mind that you are going to have to choose your priorities carefully, because you can’t do everything!
Also, here’s a reminder to give yourself a lot of grace. I’ll bet you’re doing a better job than you think you are. You may be fretting that your child will be missing out on egg-hunts, graduations and other milestones or rites of passage. They may or may not remember missing out on those things. What they will remember for the rest of their lives is the time they got to spend in these precious weeks with you!