It was a Wednesday around noon (I think). My 14 year old was still sleeping, my 16 year old was attending a Google Hangout in boxers, and I was on day two of not brushing my teeth. Online school work was not being turned in on time, dirty dishes were piling up in my boys’ bedrooms, and GrubHub was making their third contact-free delivery to my home for the day.
STOP THE INSANITY! When my boys were younger, I was the queen of routines. Now we were living in a frat house following the Outback Steakhouse Motto: No Rules Just Right!
Here is the worst part: I know the importance of routines for children, and at the start of the COVID19 lockdown, I made family routines! Where were they, and why did they fail?
I realized there were three main reasons why my family routines went down the drain, and I was determined to fix it!
Humans have an amazing ability to recall pictures. Research has shown that people remember visual images much easier than words. Studies also show that we are much better at remembering what we see and touch than what we hear. I know all this, but I resisted putting visual aids on routines for my children because they are teens.
The fact is – adding visual aids to routines for ALL people is helpful – and it is essential for children under age eight. Visual aids enhance attention and retention, make information easily accessible and increase independence. Furthermore, when people like the way the visuals look, it can be inspiring! There are tons of options out there for young children, and you can find age appropriate visuals for big kids, tweens, and teens by searching up “Planner Icon Clipart.”
The next big issue was my family routines lacked accountability. In simple terms, this means my family was confused about who was accountable for what. My 14 year old knew what time to login for his math class, but who was the parent making sure he had printed out his work or who was checking Canvas to make sure it was submitted? Likewise, my best friend’s three year old knew that her Zoom Circle Time happened after she ate breakfast, but who was the adult making sure she was logged in and had her materials ready?
Without an assigned driver in the seat for each time of the day, things were getting off track and a lot of blame was being tossed around. Once we gained clarity around the major functions of the day and who was accountable for what, we made our way back to easy street.
Here is the other thing to know. With all of the uncertainty and change we have been facing, I wasn’t feeling grounded, and I equated family routines with another boring chore I did not feel like doing. Plus the idea of routines made my boys feel like they had no say in their day, and I was not up for handling another source of contention. My lower three chakras were completely out of whack.
Our lower three chakras relate to our sense of stability, desire and will. Parents have an innate need to feel rooted, be creative and confidently make choices for our families. When we don’t feel that way, we are experiencing an imbalance.
Add physical movement to your day. Strap on a mask and take a walk.
I like to set a timer. When it goes off, I do jumping jacks, squats and mountain climbers until I am breathless. If you have less mobility, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and lift and lower your arms. Just do something to get your feet in contact with the ground and blood flowing through the beautiful body that houses your soul.
Do things in and around water. Water is the essence of fluidity. Drink water and say to yourself, “I happily go with the flow.” Invite your children to make “fancy water” with you. Since watermelon is in season, I love throwing a few juicy, pink pieces into my huge cup of ice water. My step-daughter freezes a combination of fresh squeezed lemon juice and grated ginger. She has doggie bone ice molds. We put the little pops in our water and give some to our dogs as treats!
If possible, find your way to a pool. Right now, many of us cannot visit the ocean, but I am looking forward to that day. If you can’t get to a body of water, take a bubble bath or an extra sudsy, long, hot shower. No matter which you choose to do, remember to appreciate and admire the water’s flow.
Enjoy non-competitive activities with your family. Bust out old photos. Show your children their baby books. Play a parent trivia quiz game. Find out what your children know about you. You can ask older children more intricate questions, and you can ask little ones simple questions like, “How old is mommy?” Or, “What is daddy’s favorite ice cream flavor?” I have done this before with younger children and the answers brought up a lot of laughter and lifted the mood.
Color together, bake together, read books together. The point is to be together and enjoy one another. I often cook with my boys. Cooking is an activity that has brought us together since they were babies. Look for activities that encourage connection because connection is the source of cooperation.
Once I got my chakras spinning steadily, I felt empowered to revisit our family routines. I brought my children into the fold and made it a family project not a Franny project. That way, I did not have to do it alone and my boys had a voice in the process and the outcome. We added age appropriate visuals and accountability checks.
We are all feeling lighter and are experiencing more mental freedom. We are not fighting about school work, our house is somewhat tidier, and we are cooking most of our meals. This is the best we have felt and functioned since March, and I am grateful.
Virtual school is ending, and a COVID-19 summer is quickly approaching. If your family routines are in the gutter, you are not alone, but NOW is the time to fix it!
That is why I created a FREE, two-hour, online workshop: Successful Summer Routines for Children During COVID19. It is happening Wednesday, June 10th at 7:30 p.m. EST. It is designed for parents willing to revisit their family routines but don’t know where to start or have questions about the why’s, how’s and what-if’s.
For parents ready to fix their family routines and make ones that stick this summer, click on the button below:
Routines are the antidote to uncertainty. Many parents, like myself, have tried instituting routines for children, during this lockdown, only to find we could not make them stick. By adding visuals, assigning accountability and clearing our lower chakras, we can all find a HEALTHY new normal.
So if you are tired of your children swinging from the chandeliers until midnight while Kim Crawford fills your Solo cup, it is time to register for my workshop. For those of you who want to talk privately, book a personal call with me. Just click on the button below:
I empower parents and teachers to feel calm, capable, and confident so that they can problem-solve and create new possibilities with their children.
Check out my FREE parenting resources.
Join our Facebook Group featuring other parents on the path to Mindful-Ish™ Parenting.