June 23, 2021

How do we continue to do it all from home? Routines are your best friend

This ‘How do we continue to do it all from home? Routines are your best friend’ blog article was written by Chris Hutchinson, Senior Consultant in the Parenting and Early Years Team, at the Australian Childhood Foundation.

 

We’ve been asked this question many times – how can we continue to manage everything at home; work, school, chores, playtime?  

We continue to juggle all of things we need to do while being at home with our children and partners; working from home, home schooling, changing and challenging routines and maintaining a home and family life. 

As we continue to meet all of these changes and challenges we need to ensure we are prepared. Although we are more familiar with this new ‘normal’, the goal posts seem to be constantly moving, so there is no predictability about what will happen next, only more change. 

If we are to successfully navigate the changes ahead, we need to make sure we have a plan about how this is going to continue to work for all members of the family. You may have had a plan previously, but it may not have included the ongoing challenges for the time frames we are now faced with. It may be time to adjust the plan looking towards the future despite it being still quite unclear. 

What we know is when there is ongoing change we may find even the most basic of things become more challenging. When the change means we are all in the same space at the same time for a long period we need to find some order and predictability. 

When we have predictability, we feel safe and when we feel safe we can function in a productive way. So, write up a family routine (or adjust the one you already have) – make sure this is understandable for all members of the family. If you have a very young child you will need to do this in pictures so they can ‘see’ what is happening next.  

Every member of the family needs to be a part of this process, children are more likely to follow through if they have input of their thoughts and ideas. Also, remember that the routine doesn’t need to be set in concrete, allow some flexibility – if it’s a nice day you might go for a walk together even when your routine says it’s work or school time. 

It’s important to think about how you will maintain a routine for a long period of time for both yourself, your partner and for your children – so things that might help: 

  • Keep to your normal working hours where possible or whatever is agreed upon with your employer. 
  • Keep children as close as possible to school hours or whatever is suggested by their school. Help children to prepare for their school day, ensuring they have their recess snacks and lunch so they are not going to the fridge or pantry a thousand times throughout the day. Make sure they have all the books, stationary, computer items they need especially logins and passwords so they don’t have to be distracting you or stressing because they can’t find something. 
  • Just because you can all work in your pyjamas doesn’t mean you actually should!! For example, when the work/school day is about to begin change into your work/school clothes. 
  • Try to keep distractions (laundry, meal prep, social media, private phone calls, etc.) to a minimum – put yourself in a work frame of mind and help children to be in a school frame of mind. 
  • Try to stay focused on the difference between work/school time and home time. 
  • Take regular breaks – we all need to give our mind and body a break. Do something fun together as a family, eat meals together, get outdoors, etc.  
  • Create rituals that signal the beginning and the end of your working day – do this for children also, the beginning and the end of their school day. Think about what you do before and after work and maybe maintain these while working from home. What do your children usually do before and after school? 
  • Try not to work (answer the phone or read and respond to emails) outside of your working times. This impacts on family time and can cause stress. 
  • If there is more than one adult working from home can they do it in shifts so one is always available for the children – to help with school work, to play together, etc. 

 

Make self-care a priority. Be kind to yourself. Pay attention to your stress levels and take the necessary steps to look after yourself throughout this marathon. Find ways to have fun and relax. How are you going to sustain the pace!! 

Finally, in these ever-changing times, we need to ensure through all of this that we are able to meet our children’s needs, both their physical needs and their emotional needs. They need us to be their lighthouse, to guide and support them. So be flexible, be creative and, most of all, have fun together.