Yes, routines. Routines add to our wellbeing in many ways. I found when summer started we had fewer routines throughout our day which caused more power struggles. We were less busy with structured activities and schedules so needed to fill them with new things. While this was an opportunity, it also gave me dread. All that time for them to get 'bored' or fight with each other or disagree about options or argue with me. Ugh!
My strong willed child in particular does much much better when she has the structure of a daily schedule and operating guidelines/rules so she knows what to expect and how to succeed.
Time for a sit down and brainstorm about the summer.
While creating the summer framework, be sure to notice what mindset 'hat' you are wearing. I needed to consciously take off my 'I'm Right' and my 'You Should...' hats and put on my 'I'm Curious' and 'Playful' mindset hats.
I also reminded myself that I was working on creating emotional safety and modeling normalizing experiencing feelings so when they'd come up, I would use the mantra: "This is not about me, emotions are messengers to tell me about what's important, values."
The first step: Brainstorming to get buy-in. When you are brainstorming what you each want to do, encourage imagination by welcoming any and all ideas, no matter how practical or 'unfeasible'. Let them flow! Dream!
The second step is to get some daily categories to plan around that contribute to goals of Health, Well-being, Contribution and Fun . These will be the foundation of the summer since travel isn't as easy. 6 good categories to start a daily routine are:
Personal Care (teeth brushing, showers or baths, hand washing etc),
Contribution (chores or volunteering)
Brain work (Khan Academy, projects, reading, writing)
Exercise (walking, surfing, skating, youtube videos for yoga or abs...)
Curious Time (they brainstorm all the things they are interested in learning about for those times they are bored to build the muscle of self entertaining without screens, us or friends - VITAL life skill. Could be getting to the moon, learning guitar, experiment baking, how diseases happen...the list is endless once they are nudged to start.
The last step is to plan what you are doing to do. Great if this is both daily and monthly. This is when you pencil in what is possible and when, considering all schedules, $$, time, Covid safety, what's open etc. A crucial part of this is to write them down so when resistance comes up, you just point to the plan.
Pro Tip: Get imaginative! Even if Disneyland is closed, you could have a Disney movie marathon, dress up and eat yummy food like you could buy there.)
Pro Tip: If/when screen time becomes a struggle, make an agreement that they'll get their other categories completed first or in between as a break so you have a routine around that as well. Try it for a week and then iterate if you observe something could be improved.
When we made these routines and plans it supported us so much that the power struggles diminished; everyone felt heard + got to experience their feelings and less had to be negotiated!
With less distractions this summer we have more chances to connect and create a new normal based on everyone's input.
What routines work for your family?
Reply with one tip for creating structure you enjoy.
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