May 6, 2020
If getting back on track after a vacation can be destabilizing, then going back to work, daycare or school after an involuntary leave in the middle of an outbreak promises to be quite a challenge.
Here are some things you can do before and while you get back into your routine to help make your daily family life a little smoother.
- Talk to your kids. Explain what’s coming up, as well as how and when it will happen. Give them a heads up about the changes to expect at their school, daycare, on the school bus, etc. Listen to their fears and answer their questions, without giving too many details that could cause anxiety.
- While you may have fears of your own, as a parent, stay positive and self-assured when talking to your children. If you look to the future with optimism, your kids will likely do the same.
- Get ready a few days before returning to the “new normal” by altering your habits. Wake up your kids up and put them to bed at former routine hours and try to respect meal and snack times as well.
- Despite your family’s new pace, earmark some moments during the day to go outside with your children and spend quality time together. They likely appreciated all the extra time with you during the lockdown and may be disappointed to lose these family moments. Involve your kids by asking them which family activities they would like to maintain as part of their new routine. These might be easily integrated into everyday life.
- Are you afraid your mornings might be chaotic after weeks of not having to rush the kids (or yourself)? As with the start of the new school year, go over the morning tasks with your kids or hang up a routine chart (photos or pictograms, for example). Clearly outline the steps of this routine to give them a sense what’s coming and to make everyday life more pleasant for the whole family. Don’t forget to add hand washing to your new routine when your kids leave for school and come home!
- Perhaps you had more time for household chores during the lockdown and you’re questioning how you’ll manage to get everything done from now on. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you’d started baking homemade bread every week, nobody will hold it against you if you go back to a grocery brand. Talk to your spouse and children about dividing chores fairly so everyone chips in. Have your children taken advantage of the lockdown to gain independence and get more involved? Use these newly acquired talents; don’t let them get lost!
- Lighten your routine for the first few weeks by cooking meals in advance, choosing your kids’ clothing in the evening, planning lunches, etc. This will allow you to ease into your new pace without making a complete turnabout after weeks of isolation. Again, involve your children, who may have become little chefs under lockdown.
The past few months may have given you the opportunity to get back to the basics, to be more present for your children, to enjoy the small pleasures of everyday life, or to simply take your time. If you fall back into a fast-paced routine, try to remember those quieter moments and take a break for an evening, a day, on weekends or even just a few hours. It’s better for the whole family!