It’s a battlefield out there. This virus has been testing governments and stretching healthcare systems to their limit. It has been battering the economy as businesses fight to survive. Frontliners are struggling to save lives and keep the virus from spreading. At home, families are waging a war against isolation, loneliness while maintaining some sense of order after the pandemic has driven them indoors, flipping their lives upside down.
Everything is uncertain and only one thing is for sure: we won’t be going out anytime soon. Based on announcements by government and health officials this will likely last a few more months.
According to the American Psychological Association, for families to manage these difficult conditions, it is important to create and follow a daily routine. “Maintaining a daily routine can help both adults and children preserve a sense of order and purpose in their lives despite the unfamiliarity of isolation and quarantine,” the association explains. By establishing and maintaining regular schedules people can get some sense of normalcy even under these extraordinary circumstances. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you start a routine that will make you stay productive even amidst this crisis.
1. Stick to a sleep schedule
While it’s tempting to stay up ‘till three in the morning and binge-watch Tiger King on Netflix since it feels like you're on an extended vacation anyway disrupting your regular bedtime will mess up your body clock. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule will help your body find its natural rhythm and set-up a regular sleep-wake schedule.
Aside from that, an irregular sleep schedule may cause chronic health problems like hypertension and elevated blood sugar according to a study by researchers from Duke University. It can also contribute to increased irritability and anxiety.
Going to bed at regular times every night helps the body set it’s internal clock thereby allowing you to have a routine that’s driven by your biological cues.
2. Wake up at the same time each morning
While it’s tempting to sleep in for a few more hours since you don’t have to drive to work anyway, it’s important to kick start your day early and follow your regular wake-up time to help your body settle into and maintain a routine. Waking up late will have a domino effect on your schedule. It will push all activities later into the day thereby affecting your bedtime too. Starting the day early means you get more things done and end the day before your scheduled bedtime.
3. Use a Planner
While some use a digital planner like some nifty apps you can download others prefer writing their plans for the day on paper.
Writing allows you to remember things better and internalize the things you need to accomplish. By writing down your to-do list daily you get to organize your workload and everything else you need to do.
This will help you stick to your routine since you have something to remind you about the things you need to finish and which things need to be prioritized. Having a plan for the day and accomplishing the goals in your plan will give you some sense of control even amidst the drastic disruption caused by this pandemic.
4. Eat meals at the same time each day
You could be tempted to eat lunch right in front of the computer while you’re working at 2 pm and let the kids grab anything from the kitchen whenever they feel hungry and just eat in front of the TV but experts from Stanford Children’s Health says eating together and maintaining regular meal times for the family can help not just children but also parents deal with difficult and stressful situations.
“It helps them handle the stresses of daily life and the hassles of day-to-day existence,” the organization adds. This is especially important in this time of extreme interruption on people’s daily lives. Having regular mealtimes together will help create a sense of normalcy at home and establish a routine that everyone can follow.
Workloads may change, other things may be altered by sitting down to have a meal together at regular times each day will put back structure into your family’s life.
5. Plan tasks and schedules with the family
Routines are easily maintained and followed when goals and purposes are communicated to family members clearly. Make sure everyone’s on board before establishing a routine.
Setting tasks together will help them remember and stick to the plan. A family meeting will help your children feel like someone is still in charge, and that even while everything seems confusing there is still order inside your home.
Who goes on the weekly trip to the grocery and when is the best day to go? These are things you need to discuss with your family and it’s important to set this now since it seems we are going to be indoors for a while longer.
6. Set-up a family calendar
Many applications can be downloaded on everyone’s phone at home that can help each member stick to a routine or follow tasks that need to be accomplished within the day. One of which is Cozy that’s designed for families. Each calendar is colour-coded and you can assign a colour for each family member so you’ll know which tasks are assigned to which family member. Through the app, you can create to-do lists and send reminders that will automatically send emails with notes.
Although others still use the traditional calendar or a whiteboard and set this up where it’s visible for everyone like on the fridge’s door or a wall in the kitchen. The first few weeks while you are all getting used to the new routine, it’s best to have a sort of guide and better if its something visible so they can be reminded each time when they see it.
It’s easy to lose track of days and dates when you are spending all day every day indoors away from the outside world so something in calendar format will be helpful.
7. Test this routine for a few weeks
You may have found yourself creating a routine that’s entirely different from the one you are used to because of the extraordinary circumstances now so it’s important to try this new routine for a few weeks to see which parts work and which don’t. Make changes along the way, add tasks and remove tasks that are not realistic. Give yourself time to check how many activities you can squeeze into each day considering your circumstances at home.
While you are doing this consult other members of your family and discuss changes that need to be applied. Is this set-up working for them? Is the routine too rigid, too strict, or too hard to follow? Do you need to be more flexible? What circumstances would warrant a slight change from this routine?
Numerous studies have shown that families need a routine to help improve family dynamics and maintain a sense of order. Especially in these extraordinary times when everything has been disrupted and people are forced to adjust to the new norm, establishing a routine will help make people still feel in control. It gives them structure and allows them to feel like amidst the uncertainty outside there is still some semblance of normalcy and stability at home.