As COVID-19 cases continue to spike across Colorado, schools are going back to fully remote learning. For many parents and guardians, this means being part-time teachers on top of being a full-time parent again.
It can be tough to juggle parenting responsibilities on top of everything else, and it’s important to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally to avoid burnout. Here are some strategies and tips from the Jefferson Center Colorado Spirit team to help set you and your learners up for success by establishing routines to build a solid foundation.
Why Routines Are Important
- Routines CREATE STRUCTURE
- A daily routine often begins with the alarm clock at the start of the day, followed by showering, dressing, grabbing coffee, or any other activities to get the day going. Remote work and learning makes it easier to fall into neglectful habits. Routines create a sense of structure for both you and your learners.
- Routines CAN GIVE US A SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT
- Routines typically have a beginning and an end. Including simple chores like “take the trash out” into your child’s routine is a great way to check things off the to-do list and create a feeling of accomplishment.
- Routines LET US KNOW HOW WE ARE DOING
- Since COVID-19, many of us have taken a more liberal approach to our daily routines. Activities that were once reserved for weekends, like spending the day in sweatpants, have found their way into daily routines. Although the change is subtle, it can have a big impact. Following daily routines allows us to check-in with ourselves and see how we are doing.
- Routines LET OTHERS KNOW HOW WE ARE DOING
- Without routines, there are a lot of uncertainties that can cause concern or anxieties. Usually, certain indicators can let the people around you know how you’re doing. For example, under normal circumstances, if you were to isolate inside for a prolonged period of time, your friends might be concerned. By creating routines for yourself and your learners, you’re also creating indicators that can let both of you know how you’re doing.
How to Build a Successful Routine
Building routines isn’t always easy, but it has huge benefits. Here are a few tips to set you on the right track.
- Start with the big picture
- Start by creating an overall block schedule for what a typical day looks like in your home. For example, if you know you work late on Tuesdays and can’t prepare a typical 5 PM dinner, you can consider stocking up on easy-to-make or pre-prepared dinners since you know it will likely be delayed on those days. Then you can begin to hone in on the smaller details of the schedule like playtime vs. learning time.
- Create zones
- Creating different “zones” to support routines can be a helpful tactic. Differentiating work areas from leisure areas is especially important. For example, have your kids do their homework at their desk or kitchen table rather than the dining room or living room. This will help acclimate your learners and shift focus when necessary. This also allows you and your kids to “leave school” when they enter a space designated for relaxation.
- Ask kids what is important to them
- Not only does this serve as an opportunity to get to know your child and find activities to do together, but it will allow you to cater to routines and schedules around their interests. Do your kids watch a particular show? Do they prefer to play Xbox during their free time? No matter the activity, finding time to integrate their interests is crucial to success, and gives them something to look forward to.
Parents—don’t forget to take care of yourself!
It’s essential that you care for yourself. Not only for your well-being but also because it has huge payoffs for your learners as well. A few simple ways to include self-care in your day are:
- JOURNAL for 20 minutes a day. Journaling is a healthy way to check-in with yourself, process your thoughts, and examine your emotions. You can even set goals for yourself in the process, like a daily record of things you’re thankful for.
- SCHEDULE at least one uninterrupted hour per day for yourself. Whether it is calling a close friend, sitting down with a cup of coffee, or going for a walk, ensuring you have “me” time is a great way to reduce stress.
- CHOOSE something that you’re going to savor every day – taking a shower, folding laundry, chopping wood. No matter the activity, savoring something instead of just doing it is a great grounding technique.
- LIVE in the present moment. It is okay to laugh, cry, or respond however you’re feeling in a particular moment during these times. Even just sitting with your emotions can help you and your child cope.
Remember, it is okay if you are experiencing parental burnout. Things slip through the cracks, routines need revision, or self-care takes a different route than you planned for. Letting go of perfectionism and understanding that everything is a work in progress is key to building routines.
If things start to feel too overwhelming, Jefferson Center’s Colorado Spirit team is always here for you. Offering free and confidential support, we can help you with counseling tips and strategies to cope successfully and referrals to additional mental health resources. Call us if you need to talk at 720-731-4689.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call 1-844-493-8255 or visit our 24/7 crisis walk-in center at 4643 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.