How to: Manage Your Family’s New Way of Life
By Callie Albaugh, MA, LAMFT
We are living in a world that is uncertain, ever-changing, and consumed with anxiety-ridden news. With schools now closed for an unknown time period, parents can now unexpectedly add, “Homeschool Teacher,” to their resumes. Many parents wonder, “How do I manage my children, their education, my work, and my sanity all in 24 hours every day?” As parents, YOU are the leaders in navigating crises with your children and leading them through the unexpectedness life throws at us. Here, I want to discuss how parental leaders can manage the seemingly chaotic days and how to lead your children day by day. What we know about managing Anxiety, is that structure can help mitigate and manage distress; creating certainty for your family’s everyday can help lower anxiety and build connection.
An example of how to do this can be to create a schedule for your family’s day. Keep the natural flow your family is used to during a typical school/workday. You set the structure for each day, and allow your kids to have options and a voice as to what they would like to do within each designated block. Below, I created a sample template you can use for your family.
|7 – 8 AM||Wake Up||Brush teeth, change clothes, etc.|
|8:30 AM||Breakfast||Invite your kids to help make breakfast|
|9 AM||Exercise||Go for a walk in the neighborhood, play outside, or try an online yoga class!|
|10 AM||Learning Block||Kids pick two subjects!|
|12 PM||Lunch Time||Opt for a ‘make-your-own’ lunch|
|1 PM||Quiet Time||Read a book or take a nap|
|1:30 PM||Learning Block||Choose different subjects this time!|
|3:30 PM||Outside Time||Play catch, take a walk, or just sit!|
|4:30 PM||Chores||Each person picks one chore to complete|
|5 PM||Free Time||Kids can use this time for their electronics, take a nap, or play a game|
|6 PM||Dinner||Eat dinner together as a family|
|7 PM||Family Connection||Play a game, read a book, pick a show on Netflix altogether|
|8 PM||Bedtime Rituals||Take baths, brush teeth, read books|
|9 PM||Lights Out||It’s time for bed!|
Pick new things for your family to experience during this time. Maybe, you want to teach your kids a new recipe or skill. Perhaps your family wants to learn about a new country or read a book altogether. Although this time may feel uncertain, you can write a narrative for your family during this time that is about connection and relationships.
Your children may have questions for you. We live in a world with constant ‘viral’ updates that may cause uneasiness, stress, and anxiety for your children, and perhaps you as well. Maintain open communication with your children, be honest with them – it is okay to say that you’re unsure of a question they have, and remind your children of your role to take care of them. Take time to connect with your co-parent to discuss the messages you want to send to your children so that your children feel comfort in the aligned leadership in their home. Anxiety creates a tendency to look into the future and incite fear of the unknown. My challenge to you is to take each day as it comes. Stay safe, wash your hands, and make healthy choices for you and your family.