If you had witnessed the polar opposite reactions from each of my kids to the news that schools were closing it would be hard to believe that they were part of the same family. One immediately grieved the loss of structure, time for learning, and “more intellectually stimulating conversations than we have at home,” (her words, not mine) the other thought he had won the lottery.
A week in, the reality of time isolated at home has started to sink in for all of us, and my daughter’s comment to me, “mom, you are really rocking the all-day PJs during quarantine” has solidified that need for some structure in our days. Routines and structures provide kids and adults with a sense of stability and security that can offset the anxiety triggered in times of uncertainty.
I created this Mindful Parenting series rooted in the scientifically backed routines and strategies that foster and strengthen the smart brain state for kids and parents. To that end, I have created REFRAME, a tool for families to create structure in their days. So parents and kids can get some work done, stay mentally and physically healthy, and find the good in this time together.
Details of the frameworks are outlined in my post below. The key is to incorporate some of each element into the daily schedule. Comment, share, stay safe and stay well.
If you are struggling with creating structure and getting the most out of your days in the face of COVID-19, subscribe below to download a printable copy of REFRAME.
A daily schedule is huge for keeping kids and parents in the smart state. We all manage anxiety better when we know what to expect. Create a daily schedule that includes each of the following elements of REFRAME and use it for yourself and/or review it with your kids when they wake up in the morning to set the tone and the brain state for a good day.
We know that exercise is huge for managing stress, staying healthy, and boosting immunity. Exercise is also critical for improving our mood and resilience to stress as it boosts levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin in our brain. Perhaps think about an event like a 10K, hike, or other growth challenges that you can train for as a family or your teens can train for with a friend.
We all need to feel productive and get some work done each day. Block out Focus time for the family where you turn off all devices, and work and homework done. Our brains are much more efficient and productive when we can designate a specific amount of time where we focus on a single task without distractions and interruptions. If your kids need support with their schoolwork than your personal focus time may occur while they are napping, relaxing or with another caregiver.
Each day spend some time teaching kids skills that will allow them to be more helpful around the house: have them help with the process of doing a whole load of laundry from start to finish, work through a recipe for dinner together or clean surfaces around the house while explaining how to safely use different cleaning products. Finishing a small house project each day not only is helpful, but it gives kids a sense of accomplishment and control, which offsets anxiety and stimulates the smart state.
While under normal circumstances, limiting children’s sedentary screen time is recommended, relaxing limits in this area are probably inevitable and realistic during this time. It is still critical to limit your kids’ exposure to the news as this will trigger the alarm state and increase anxiety. Use screen time for uplifting shows, comedy, and educational content.
Paying attention to the present moment is arguably the BEST way to stimulate the prefrontal cortex and strengthen the smart brain state. Incorporate some mindfulness or whatever time into your new daily routine.
Subscribe here to instantly download my list of 25 Ways to Enjoy "Whatever" Time with Your Family.
Laughter decreases stress, improves immunity and thanks to mirror neurons in our brain is very contagious! I can’t for the life of me figure out what the heck Tik-Tok is. And my husband is a really bad dancer. However, any chance we get now to jump into one of our kid’s Tik-Tok’s, we take it. We laugh at ourselves, and the fact that my husband “had no clue that being able to keep a beat was important for making a Tik-Tok!”, adds to our enjoyment. Our kids are going to remember this time period for the rest of their lives – make sure enjoyment is a huge part of that memory.
It is important to recognize that this framework will look slightly different based on the ages of your kids. Younger kids need you to take more control of this schedule. For teens, while we still have set expectations for things they need to do each day, it is important to allow them to have autonomy in managing their schedules and responsibilities without constant nagging.