How To Create a New Normal for Your Family

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family routine

With the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have closed and shifted to distance learning to help prevent people from unknowingly spreading the virus as they go about their daily lives. Many parents are now trying to balance daily household tasks, working from home, assisting children with on-line learning activities and the anxiety that has come with this novel virus.

Physical distancing, or staying away from other people to avoid illness, has also put a strain on children and parents, who are lacking their usual means of connection and support. However, these changes have had a positive impact – they have sparked a true sense of community. We are all fighting this virus together. You are not alone.

To help you get through this unprecedented time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping a routine and establishing a new normal.

This will look different for everyone, depending on their household situation. That's OK. Develop a routine that works for your family.

The AAP recommends:

  • Keep consistent waking and bedtimes.
  • Decide the times for your work and school days.Try to stick to those times so that kids know when their school day will end and when your work day will end.
  • Create a workspace for each family member where they can do their work without distraction. Have any supplies they may need to do their work (computer, tablets, pencils, paper, books) on hand.
  • Set a time for lunch and snacks.
  • Take brain breaks! Get up and move around.The web has a lot of resources for short bursts of activity. Many companies offer free services during the pandemic. When in doubt, put on some music and dance -- anything to get up out the your chairs and get the body moving.
  • Try to have dinner as a family. Encourage kids to talk about their day. Play the high/low game: Ask your children what the high point of their day was, and what was the low point. Let kids know it's OK to be sad if they miss their friends, school or activities. It's OK to be frustrated with the hiccups that occur with on-line learning. Letting kids express themselves and acknowledging their concerns validates their feelings.
  • Save some time for fun in the evenings! Play a board game, do a craft, exercise, read a book or watch a movie together.
  • Keep the same bedtime and bedtime routine as you had before.The consistency can be comforting.

These tips can help kids know what to expect each day. Knowing the routine makes being at home during this pandemic a bit more predictable.

Remind your children that everyone is going through the same historical moment as they are. All the changes are a bit tough, but they are the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Nellie Coughlin, MSN, APRN, PPCNP-BC, is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

Related links

Learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and what you should do if you think you have the virus.

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