A basic daily rhythm–a schedule–will help you and the children manage the new normal.

Routines provide structure and a sense of safety for children, which helps them control their impulses and behaviors. Routines are important for adults, too. As coronavirus crisis unfolds you may feel unmotivated or powerless. A daily routine to help you and the children keep focused and feel some measure of control.

Derenda Schubert, a Portland psychologist, stresses, “every family’s routine will be different.”  She adds that a routine doesn’t have to be comprehensive time management. “It can be small gestures and rituals such as visiting a teen’s room at bedtime, or offering regular meal times. The point is consistency.”

What are the basics of a routine?

Your children’s school routine

At least you will have something to anchor most days. Inspiring youngsters to engage with learning is hard, but school, such as it is, probably offers your best chance to keep your kids on track. It may also be the only outside help you can regularly expect. So build your days around getting them to class on time. Let class time set your schedule for wakeup, getting dressed and breakfast.

Add in daily chores

What a concept! Now is your chance to help you children learn to pitch in. Remember when you were a school kid and you got a certain pride from being the designated blackboard cleaner? Of course, children will resist chores. But persist! They are undoubtedly feeling your anxiety, and helping out is stress relief for them, too.

Dedicate time for play

Dedicated child-led play is huge for kids. When a child is imagining, creating, building or inventing, he or she is doing meaningful learning. Plan a few 15- to 30-minute blocks (more or less time depending on your child’s age and play development) of dedicated child-led play. The more a child plays, the more they learn to play.

Share books and reading time

Study after study shows the importance of reading to kids. Being home all day is a great chance to instill and strengthen that habit.

Plan reading blocks. Fifteen to 20 minutes a day is a great start (remember, that’s total minutes, not all at once. Break it into chunks). Consider structuring this reading time in a variety of ways: you read aloud, child reads aloud (if the child can read), and family silent reading time.