700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

8 Tips for Managing Routines in Uncertain Times

Apr 07, 2020
Mom vacuuming while her two kids play with their toys on the floor

In a time when life feels out of control, routines can give us all a sense of stability and comfort and an opportunity for our families to thrive.  

Consider some of the benefits of a routine:

  • Kids know what the expectations are and it cuts down on arguing. For example: Bath time is after clean up time.
  • It creates confidence and independence when kids get the routine and can do it on their own.
  • It also can get them excited about what is coming next. “I’m looking forward to playtime after lunch!”
  • Routines can bond a family together!

Even though your child is not attending school, it is important to keep a consistent routine and schedule to allow them time to learn and play. Not only will this keep your child engaged in learning, but it will also provide comfort and stability in uncertain times. There are many examples of schedules for families that include learning, play, time together and time alone.

If you are struggling with your current routine or want to look at putting some in place here are a few ideas:

  1. First, figure out the important times of the day. Mealtimes, morning routines, bath time, housework and chore times, play and family time are all occasions to implement a routine.
  2. Keep consistent bedtimes and eating schedules as much as possible. This will also help your child transition back to school when that time comes.
  3. Design the routine and make it simple. You may start with only one routine until the kids get it down, make it fun and maybe design a chart with the kids what the steps look like.
  4. Practice patience. It may take some time for your child to learn the routine. You may have to do it with them over and over again.
  5. Make it more pleasant for your child. You may want to add 10 extra minutes of special time, reading or snuggling to the bedtime routine. You may want to add a “ritual” to mealtimes – everyone gets to share the best part of the day at dinner time. Think about also scheduling some alone time to go along with the family time. Adults and children, especially adolescents, need to have their own space to relax during this stressful time. Make sure time alone is safe and age appropriate.
  6. Be consistent. For routines to stick, they have to happen consistently. As much as you can, stick to the plan!
  7. Be flexible. Things are changing so rapidly right now, you may have to change things up now and then and adjust. Change the schedule as you learn what your child can manage and what they find enjoyable.
  8. Have realistic expectations. This is for you and for your little ones. These are difficult times that are unpredictable and changing all the time. Right now we are expected to be and do things that are not the norm for us. Give yourself and your children a little extra grace right now. It will teach them to be flexible and maybe even more mindful about the things that are really important.
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Deborah Hill, LSW
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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.