Most parents already understand the importance of developing a daily schedule to promote structure. Children thrive on routine. The COVID-19 pandemic stripped away a lot of previously held structures, schools being one of the primaries.
Over the last couple of years, children and adults must adapt to a constantly changing and alternating environment. Adaptation has not been without its challenges. Thankfully, while there are still variants to contend with, society is evolving to a sense of new normality. In this new and changing environment, parents must bring the structure back to their children’s lives.
What Is a Structured Schedule?
A structured schedule is similar to a daily plan. The plan can consist of mundane tasks, such as bathing, eating, bedtime, etc., and it can include more exciting activities, such as extracurricular activities or family outings.
The purpose of a structured schedule is to create predictability and routine. Your children can look to past days to predict how the current morning will develop. This level of prediction promotes feelings of comfort and safety.
Unfortunately, Covid created shockwaves through existing schedules, which evolved into looser family routines. School was on and off for over a year, and there were limited, if any, extracurricular activities or social encounters. Parents can start reinventing routines, but they should do so slowly.
Identifying a Routine
When identifying a new routine, don’t overcomplicate things. You want to start simple with something you and your family can do together. Togetherness is vital, especially with small children. A child is more likely to adopt a new habit if they see their parents adopting it.
Therefore, if you want to establish a healthy breakfast routine, have everyone sit at the table together. You can also add other healthy habits to the routine, like taking a multivitamin or other supplements specific to your child’s needs, like those found at Wellements.
Remember, you do not have to create an entire routine and schedule immediately. You should start with small, easily adoptable habits and work from there.
Consistency is key to establishing a new routine; perfection is not. No one is perfect. You will probably experience days when the routine does not work or seems impossible to fit into the day. Do not beat yourself up too much. Life is unpredictable at times, so schedules must be flexible.
Still, while flexibility is necessary, repetition and commitment to your new routine are essential. Children learn best through repetition, and if a routine is meant to create predictability, it must be repeated frequently. Without consistency, a routine is not a routine; it is merely something you occasionally do.
Establishing Rules & Consequences
A new routine will often be met with resistance. While children are small and dependent, they can be feisty and assertive when they want to be. After the initial events of Covid, you need to express some compassion for resistance to further change, but your child needs to understand there are new rules and expectations in the home.
Consequences can hold a negative connotation, but they are crucial to learning and embracing new routines. The best way to view consequences is not as punishments but as choices. For example, if you want your child to eat healthier but refuse to eat vegetables, provide them with a choice, eat some veggies or do not watch TV. You can also give them the choice of veggies they eat, allowing for independent thinking and preference.
Ultimately, developing a new routine for your child after Covid is about consistency and follow-through. After so much time dealing with interrupted schedules, a new routine will be challenging for everyone in the family. Still, it is necessary and crucial to healthy childhood development.