Date: March 31,2020 l Author: Terri Galindo, LCSW, LMFT & Roque Marino, MS

Routines are essential as they give adults and kids a sense of normalcy. It is normal to fear the unknown. It affects every one! However, it is during these difficult times that we grow the most. It is stressful; but we grow.

It is true that children adjust better to change than adults. It is also interesting that children grow better when change is expected and when it occurs during the family routine. It is there where children feel safe as they master the tasks of their daily routine.

Unpredictable change such as accidents, divorce, and/or illnesses are unavoidable. However, a daily routine is the foundation so children handle difficult situations more efficiently. On the other hand, kids who come home to chaotic homes with lack of organization and structure are likely to struggle to complete or master tasks; especially those unwanted, but needed, tasks. Start where you are at. Have a conversation as a family and identify the basic activities that need to be done on a regular basis and allot times in the day/week to accomplish them. Then add additional tasks such as chores, family gatherings, meals together, exercise, projects around the house, and screen time, to name a few. Make sure to include free time to allow children to make their own decisions. If you are stuck, talk or brainstorm with other parents and get ideas as to what and how they are managing their daily routine. Be creative and make it fun!

Sleep is extremely important. It is the time when the body rests, heals, and relaxes. Exercise is also important. The mind and the body is healed through movement. Our bodies are designed to move. Exercising as a family can be a fun and healthy way to create connection. Even something as simple as a walk through the neighborhood – pointing out the different trees, flowers, and animals you encounter – is a healthy way to move your bodies and create connection.

Create realistic expectations for academics. After a long day of school work, where our children may have struggled holding it together, they may need a break to help themselves to regulate before jumping into a couple of hours of homework. When children are not regulated, it is impossible for them to learn. Help them to listen to their bodies, do the things that will get them back to the point where they can handle more input, and then encourage them to accomplish what they are able to accomplish. Set the bar of expectations realistically and according to your children’s abilities.