Navigating the New Normal: Simple Steps to Create Routines for Your Kids…and You

Safe and Sound Schools’ Co-Founder, Alissa Parker Reflects on Her Family’s New Normal…at Home

Like many parents across the country, my life in the past few weeks has become really complicated.  With my children’s school shutting down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I am now scrambling to balance work, homeschooling, and all the other responsibilities that come with being a parent.  It’s a lot! By day two last week, I was already feeling anxiety and stress building, so I decided to take a minute (hiding in the bathroom, of course) to give myself some grace and encouragement.  

As a mom who works from home, I thought about all the summers I had to balance work deadlines with endless activities, vacations, and camps with my children.  Looking back, I decided to dust off some of the tactics that have worked for me in the past and remind myself–and so many others– that we can do this! 

So here goes…

Safety First

The first thing I found myself doing with my girls last week was talking about why we’re all suddenly at home.  They had a lot of questions–which somehow quickly gave way to a lot of ideas for how we could do our part to keep ourselves and others safe.  As a parent, one of my number-one priorities is teaching my children ways to stay safe, no matter the circumstances. This means talking. A lot. I find it’s always a good idea to keep it simple and let the girls lead the conversation. 

And the conversation went right to handwashing.  I know, exciting stuff! The girls felt empowered once they understood the rules of the road.  Of course, I know how quickly their enthusiasm can fade, so I worked with our Safe and Sound team to create a fun video that my kids love and a printable reminder that we posted at each sink in the house.  It’s been a lot of fun and kept the good ideas flowing.  Stay tuned for more from us!

Get Organized

At school, routines are critical to maintaining order and efficiency. Schedules establish a level of expectation and keep everyone accountable and on track.  At home, I really see the difference when my daughters have a schedule to follow and tasks to complete on their own. This frees me up to get a few things done, rather than hover, nag, and repeat all day.  

I have used a lot of schedules with my children over the years and appreciate ones that allow for flexibility.  At home and in family life, things are always changing. As a parent, I have had to learn to roll with it. I designed this daily printable schedule with our team keeping this idea in mind.  I printed mine out last week and gave them a try with my girls. I mounted them inside of some colorful file folders and let each girl personalize her own.  My girls added a picture of their favorite animals inside (Yes, that one has a picture of a rat. My daughter actually loves rats! Sigh…and cue flexibility).  

Prioritize Self-care

As important as it is to take care of our children’s needs, it is equally as important to take care of ourselves.  We can only run for so long before we collapse–or get a little grumpy! Practicing self-care looks different for everyone.  For me, it’s working on creative projects, photography, and exercising (finally time to catch up on podcasts!). Maybe for you it’s taking a bath, going for a run, working in the garden, meditation, or reading a book.  Whatever it is – make it a priority.  

Despite the stress we are all under while staying home, it is important to remember, for families, this can be an opportunity for growth.  This unique set of circumstances we are in can bring us closer together. So let’s take a deep breath and remember to enjoy as much of it as we can!