At the start of 2020, I bet my days looked a lot like yours.
- Wake up
- Get ALL THE COFFEE
- Wake the kids
- Pack lunches
- Load up backpacks
- Drive to school
- Go to work
- Do school carpoolC
- Come home
- Do homework
- Eat dinner
- Go to bed
It was a comfortable routine, that at the time, in the monotony, felt suffocating.
Enter a new family rhythm
But then, March 2020 came around.
And what we used to think was a life-sucking routine became a longing for change from the pace we currently live in. Where all the days look the same—and sometimes the clothes we wear day in and day out, too.
The thing I have seen over and over again in these strange times is the recommendation for people to maintain a sense of routine. It’s why we should still get dressed in the morning. It’s a good idea that our kids should do their schoolwork at a table and chairs, starting at about the same time every day. Because routine helps us make the most of the day.
At Parent Cue, we’ve talked a lot about how we can use our daily rhythm to connect in meaningful ways. We specifically talk about 4 distinct times, each one giving us unique opportunities to be more intentional with our kids: when we eat together, travel, go to bed, and when we get up.
- Meal time allows us a chance to have more intentional conversation. Our role as parents is a sort of teacher.
- Drive time gives us time for informal dialogue. Our role as a parent is more like a friend.
- Bedtime is a time for more intimate conversation. Our role as a parent is to be a counselor.
- Morning time is the best time to offer encouraging words. Our role as parents is to be a sort of coach.
So, what does all of this look like in the days of self-isolation and quarantine when our daily rhythm has been significantly altered? How can we still use these times to be intentional?
Here are some tips.
I’m willing to bet families have never spent more time around the dinner table than they are spending right now. Take advantage of it!
As a time for more formal discussion and teaching moments, use this time to do a sort of play back of the day.
- How did we do today when it came to driving each other crazy?
- How did we do when it comes to getting what needed to get done, done?
- Where did we crush it today? Where can we get better?
- What would a win look like tomorrow?
- What should we start doing? Stop doing? Continue doing?
- What in our daily routine is working for us, and what isn’t?
- When are the times we are more likely to be short tempered with each other? When are the times we are at our best?
[See related post: How to Make the Most of Meal Time]
With no sports, clubs and playdates, drive time has probably been cut back dramatically.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t still go out for a drive, or exchange time in the car for time spent walking around the neighborhood together instead. Use this time to breathe deeply—literally and metaphorically—as a family.
If leaving the house is out of the question, schedule time each day to work on a puzzle, play a card game or watch some funny YouTube videos together. This is a time to decompress from the stress of our current reality and remember that you like each other and that laughter is always good medicine.
[See related post: How to Make the Most of Drive Time]
Time tucking in my kids these days has never felt like a bigger deal. Getting through each day and making it to bedtime is more of a win now than ever. Why not let your kids know that?
As you are tucking them or saying goodnight, let them know how proud you are of the family and them. Use this time to check in with them emotionally—how are they doing? Are they feeling scared, frustrated, anxious or overwhelmed?
For younger kids, maybe help unpack what those feelings are and how they might show up in their bodies and behavior. Scratch their backs and remind them of the things that are true no matter what in this strange season.
Remind them that God is good and He is close, and that as hard as this time might be on everyone, we can do hard things together.
[See related post: How to Make the Most of Bed Time]
For me, morning times have always been a challenge—even before a worldwide pandemic. But these days, mornings are even harder.
The idea of facing another day at home, in close quarters with work for me and my husband to do and the kids to do, and no end in sight . . . it’s enough to take me to a dark place. Which is why our role as a coach offering encouraging words is so important.
Set the tone for the day. Give a pep talk (to yourself and your kids). Offer a sense of structure for what the day holds. Even if you aren’t a “to-do-list” person (I’m not), create a list of things to accomplish that day. Brushing teeth and getting dressed count as list items.
Set predetermined “breaks” for responsibilities. Give the kids and the whole family as much a vision for the day as possible, and then encourage everyone that they have a part in making it happen.
One of the unexpected gifts of this season is the time we get to spend together. But like all things, too much of a good thing can still be too much. So, why not look for ways to make the moments count? Having the time these days isn’t the issue. But making the time count is a bit more of a challenge.
So make it count. It won’t be perfect. There will be days we will be glad to see end. Days where we phone it in. Days where we aren’t sure we can take another 24 hours in this scenario. That’s okay. That makes us human.
But why not try for something more than survival? Why not go for intention in the midst of survival? We might be surprised at what we find when we do.
[See related post: How to Make the Most of Morning Time]