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The New Normal:

How to Create Routine and Structure

and Maintain Your Parental Sanity

By Niki Gori

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Orignially published here and re-posted with permission.

“I am not a teacher!” “This is hard!” “How am I supposed to work and teach?!” “How do I fill the time?” “The day seems to drag on…”

These are just a few phrases I’ve heard from parents recently. This is way outside of your normal routine, and probably even further from your comfort zone. You may find yourselves feeling overwhelmed and oftentimes, frustrated. If you have found yourself in this uncomfortable place of uncertainty, impatience, or overwhelm, take a moment to gather your thoughts and give yourself some grace. You can do this.

Here are some tips for creating a new normal and maintaining your parental sanity:

1. Get up each day at the same time. Allow a few minutes, at least 15 for just you and your coffee or your dog or your thoughts. Let this time be meant just for you, before the kids wake up or your work day begins.

2. Keep as much of your usual routine as you can. Make breakfast, walk the dog, pack lunch, etc. Do whatever you need to do to help maintain normality and structure not just for yourself, but for your kids. (You’re not the only one adjusting)

3. Plan out your day by hours or activities; Work, schoolwork, chores, meals, “after school activities”, etc.  And don’t forget to factor in time to do things that make YOU happy, things you enjoy, and the things you need to care for yourself. Find what works best for you and your family and encourage your family to do the same.

For example: 9 am wake up; 10 am Start Schoolwork, 11 am Creative time; Noon Lunch; 1 pm outside time; 2 pm Quiet time; 3 pm Outside; 4 pm Chores, 5 pm Dinner; 6 pm Family Game time, 7pm Evening routines. Any variation that works for you and your family.

3. Make sure to take frequent breaks from work or school activities to help with boredom or frustration. This will reduce the panic or aggravation with schoolwork on all fronts. Experts recommend taking a 10 minute break every 50 minutes. That’s right. EVERY 50 minutes for optimum productivity, creativity, and mental stamina.

4. Create areas of work, rest, and eating meals. This will encourage movement inside the home where you and your family can execute specific activities accordingly.

5. Go outside! Take a walk around the neighborhood, sit and enjoy the new spring blooms or even dust off the bike you have in the garage! Enjoy the sunshine! (As you may recall, just a few days ago we were complaining about the record amount of rain we’ve experienced). So go enjoy the outdoors! See below for a fun outdoor activity for the whole family:

6. Remember, we are all in this together.  Now, more than ever. Make sure to care for yourself as you are also caring for your family. We cannot pour from a cup that is empty. Lean on those you love and allow those you love to lean on you when they need it. Try to find the upside of being confined to your homes with your families. Minimize your exposure to the media. This alone will help improve your perspective. Take this time to learn and to as a person and as a family. And perhaps most importantly, reflect on what we can learn, how we can change, and how we can create a better future once these uncertain times have passed. Do not let this challenge be for nothing.

Lastly, here are some helpful resources that you and your family can use individually or together! Enjoy, and have fun!

Digital Activities:

Netflix Party with Friends (USA Today)

Announcing: LUNCH DOODLES with Mo Willems (YouTube.com)

Pete the Cat:Virtual Story Time (Instagram.com)

GO NOODLE for fun indoor movement

Virtual Museum Tour

Virtual Tour of National Parks

Virtual Tour of Zoo's

Virtual Connecting with others:

Google Hangouts (or Meet)

FaceTime (Apple Users)

zoom.us

Slack 

Microsoft Teams

WhatsApp

Facebook (You can call or message your friends)

Creative Activities:

Best Board Games for Kids (AtlantaParent.com)

STEAM Products Your Kid Will Love (AtlantaParent.com)

Sensory Activities for your younger child (Pinterest.com)

Pinterest for ideas on indoor activities

For Talking to your child about Coronavirus:

How I’m Navigating Coronavirus Fear with My Anxious Child (ADDitudemag.com)

"The Yucky Bug" by Julia Cook (YouTube)

For Organizing your school and at home day:

Routine to the Rescue: Homework for the Modern Family (ADDitudemag.com

Working from Home? Telecommuting Strategies from Adults with ADHD

For Staying focused:

Popular Productivity Advice That Torpedoes the ADHD Brain (ADDitudemag.com)

Music Therapy: Sound Medicine for ADHD (ADDitudemag.com)

9 Constructive Fidgets That Promote Focus (ADDitudemag.com)

Educational Apps:

20+ Best Educational Apps for Kids (Atlanta Parent)

Prodigy: Math Learning Platformwww.prodigygame.com


About the Author

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Niki Gori works at Summit's Edge Counseling.

She says: I am a direct and person-centered therapist. I believe the best approach to the therapeutic relationship is meeting clients where they are. I work to create a warm space where you can discover your hidden potential and you can expect me to hold you accountable to your personal journey. My husband and I live in northern Atlanta with our three cats Annabelle, Sampson and Jeffery. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. 

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