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“Develop a Daily Routine.” How’s That Working for You?! 

“Develop a Daily Routine.” How’s That Working for You?!
By: Jessie Whitish, Kentucky Youth Advocates

I didn’t use to think my house was small. But after weeks of COVID-19 quarantine, I’ve decided it’s at least three sizes two small. Every weekday, my husband, four-year-old, and myself share a space that is about 300 square feet in which we try to simultaneously work and operate a makeshift home school. 

You’ve probably seen every recommendation on the internet that encourages you to establish a routine for your family, even if you are working and schooling from home. 

So…how’s that working for us? Here’s our emotional roll—I mean, timeline: 

Monday, March 16, 5 PM: My child is a genius and very independent. Also, I’m an incredible mother and can balance it all. Today’s routine worked great 

Tuesday, March 17, 2 PM: Should we consider homeschooling our kid from now on? 

Friday, March 20, 7 AM: Good grief. I am SO GLAD it’s Friday. We’re exhausted, and our routine is falling apart. Next week will probably be better, though. 

Sunday, March 22, 8 PM: I cannot face tomorrow. We cannot manage another week of this. 

Monday, March 23, 2 PM: Lots of yelling. “It is not time for screen time yet! Get back to the table and finish the craft you started.” (Side note: this is a good time to brush up on effective discipline techniques. Check out these 10 tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.) 

Tuesday, March 24, 8 PM: I can’t do this. Break down crying.  

Thursday, March 26, 10 AM: Well…this isn’t what I thought it would be, but our son is enjoying himself, and we’re able to get work done. 

Sunday, March 29, seemingly all day: Cleaning. So much cleaning. Staying home all day makes for a messy house. 

Monday, March 30, 9 AM: Lower your standards, mama. Now lower them again. 

 What comes next? I’m not sure, as it feels like we can only take this day by day. We still have some elements of our original daily routine—everybody gets ready as though we were going out, family circle time, quiet time, online storytime videos—but I’ve let a LOT of other stuff go. Scheduled times for lunch and snacks? Out the window. Strict limits on screen time? Uh uh. Organized activities to meet learning goals? Occasionally. 

This isn’t to say that these weeks in very close quarters have been all bad—quite the opposite. As stressful as this time has been, I’ve enjoyed getting to watch my son be so creative and curious. We’ve had the opportunity to share an abundance of laughs as a family. We give each other more hugs. I’ve grown as a parent. 

Maybe the routine we need to commit to isn’t about daily schedules at all. Let’s get into a routine where we connect with our family, our neighbors, and fellow caregivers more. (Check out this op-ed from Kosair Charities® president Keith Inman on how social distancing is an opportunity for social connection.) Let’s get into a routine where getting through one day at a time is not only OK but an attitude to be celebrated. Let’s get into a routine where we cut ourselves some slack and laugh when things go way (even way, wayoff the rails.