New Normal? Routines Make Kids Feel Safe

Our daily routines have changed significantly since COVID-19 arrived. Kids sent home from school, parents working from home, daily news about the virus and changes in government restrictions have caused a significant sense of loss of control.

“Children need to have an expectation of what’s next,” said Karen Williams, LIMHP, mental health therapist at CHI Health. “Routines and structure anchor children. It’s not just about making beds and having meals at certain times. Routines make us feel safe.”

With families spending more time together, they can do new things, or familiar things in new or different ways.

“Of course, we encourage families to enjoy time together, but also to spend time alone,” Williams said. Introverts need time to recharge after social stimulation, while extroverts need that interaction and family togetherness. Spending time alone playing and doing activities as a family are equally valuable.

Much is outside of our control now, so Williams suggests we narrow it down to what we can control, and pick something to manage. Take laundry, for example – does it need to be done? Schedule time to do it. “Create a list of what we need to do each day, and do those to the best of your ability,” Williams said.

Housework and chores give people a sense of accomplishment because there is a defined beginning, middle and end. “Sometimes work or schoolwork gives a sense of it being endless,” Williams said. “But there is something satisfying about baking cookies, making the bed or mowing the lawn. When it’s done, it gives us a sense of productivity and accomplishment.”