I feel that 2020 needs a factory reset, January seemed to last for 68 days, February was done in 3 days and March was at least 1367 days long!
I think that along with many other people, the usual monthly emotional highs and lows now happen in the space of an hour and I don’t know about you but I need a holiday.
Most of that is due to me talking, this big introvert has done enough talking in the last two weeks to last a decade. I’ve even developed a husky voice!
Has talking to myself become the new norm?
Nope. I have been doing podcast interviews, virtual conferences and video chats plus a handful of lives, all talking about working from home and handling the kids at the same time.
What I have noticed are the same questions coming up over and over again so this post is to address the FAQs of working from home and schooling the kids and creating a new routine.
It looks like this will be the new norm for a couple of months for many of us and as we adjust to this new life, these are a few things to keep in mind and will make your life easier…
Create A New Routine
That old routine of being up and out of the house by a certain time, rip it up and chuck it out. You can make your own rules up now!
As a productivity nerd I recommend using guidelines though.
Having a regular routine rather than a free-for-all will make it easier on your kids and you. When you have a routine in place, less thinking is involved, less decision making and generally life runs smoother.
Decide when to wake up, meal times and bedtime, use that as the framework for the rest of the day. Keep these the same every weekday and the activities that you do around them will be your variety.
This brings us onto morning meetings. Over breakfast, decide on the family schedule for the day. What, if anything is happening at a specific time? Pencil those in first.
Allow your kids to decide when they want to do things too, yes, even the little ones. Let them have some kind of say, giving them a choice helps them feel that they have got some control and it’s helping them to learn how to schedule and structure their day.
A great life skill that they won’t learn at school.
For the reluctant starters, teach them the Worst First method, (near the top of this post)
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
We are obviously living through a very weird time and it is undoubtedly stressful. Help to reduce the stress by building the following elements into your new routine, do this when you have your morning meeting:
- Some form of exercise, kids and parents. PE with Joe is popular with the kids (and I think the moms too if you know what I mean!). If your kids are into a specific sport, get them to come up with training routines so they can keep their skills sharp.
- Get some fresh air. Although some places are in total lockdown, many still allow 30 minutes outside exercise. This is a good time to go for a walk, get a change of scenery and some fresh air.
- Brain workout. Keep those old grey brain cells active, this could be practising an old skill or learning a new one. There are tonnes of amazing courses online you can take.
- Brain love. It is extremely easy to fall into a state of depression or anxiousness at times like these so work on keeping mentally healthy, both you and the kids. Meditation is my number one choice but journalling, music, art, prayers, affirmations etc. can all help with mental well being.
- Work. This is for school work and your work. One thing to remember is that the kids don’t need 6 hours to get their school work done. Homeschooling rule of thumb is 2-3 hours for younger kids and a little longer for teens.
- Be Social. This is for the kids too, they are missing their mates. Organise video chats with their friends, let them play, good around, have fun. And you too, especially the extrovert out there, call up for friends, work colleagues and family members and have a chinwag.
I really don’t like the term social distancing, we can still be social without getting within spitting distance of each other.
But What About The Housework?
We have the perfect opportunity right now to re-train our families, taking that they are not the most helpful around the home!
You can add this into the morning meeting, and make it part of your new routine. Decide who will do which jobs. Either diplomatically choosing or doing Rock Paper Scissors, whatever works for you.
What works for us is having a daily schedule that we do straight after breakfast. That means the house is cleaned and tidied ready to go first thing and once it is done, there’s no nagging.
Also include duties such as cleaning up after meals and an end of day tidy up. As you get into the groove it becomes easier and if everyone else is pitching in, they will start to learn that putting stuff away from the offset makes their life easier.
If you have complainers, know that you are not alone. Sitting down and treating them as an adult and having a conversation with them is the first step. I also highly recommend Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss, he is an ex-FBI negotiator and the tactics he teaches in his book also work on kids!
These are referral links…
Get the book here on Amazon or sign up for Scribd, for the audio version, you get two months free with this link (then it’s about $9 a month after that) We use it all the time.
And Adding Laundry Into The New Routine?
I am a big fan of “help me do it myself” which is what the Montessori philosophy is based on. If you have the kids rooms set up so that they can put their own things away, you are half way there.
Make laundry time a family activity that you all do together. Put of some fun music, show the kids how to match socks (even toddlers can do this) and fold and put away their own clothes.
Sock matching is actually a great skill so encourage your toddler to help out.
If you are in a total lockdown situation chances are you are not wearing anything that needs ironing #silverlining so laundry really should be a fairly easy task.
If you have a big family and you are washing every day, build laundry into the daily routine.
One final thing when it comes to housework and delegation.
Don’t expect it to be perfect or match your standards if you happen to be a bit of a perfectionist. Just let it go.
You have 2 choices, do it all yourself and never cut yourself a break OR let the others do it, and relax your standards a bit. They are still learning, guide but do not nag or complain.
I Don’t Know What Day It Is!
Join the club, I lived Thursday twice this week and I’m not sure what happened to Tuesday!
Which is why we need weekends.
Weekends, that’s the time to break the rules. Breaking up the stuck-at-home monotony by having a different routine at the weekend will help keep some kind of balance to your week.
Have a lie-in, don’t touch the computer, don’t do housework, play games, have a movie night, take a nap… do the fun stuff, create memories!
Do the same if you have holidays too, you don’t have to stick to the same thing day in and day out, all of the time.
But They Won’t Stop Eating!
This is one of life’s great mysteries… why do kids 10x more when they are not in school?
Maybe because they can!
But have you noticed that when the kids are totally engrossed in something, they are not interested in food, in fact they will often forget about meal times altogether.
What we don’t want is for kids boredom default to be eating, we all know how that goes.
Two ways to manage this.
ONE – Set up a tuck shop, price the snacks and then make a jobs board with a rate for each job. You can use play money or credits or real money if you like. The kids get to earn their tuck shop money and then they can buy what is available.
The upside of this is that you can control what gets put out and the opening times for the tuck shop.
TWO – Give each child their own snack basket, that is their allocation for the day but they are allowed to eat when it suits them, this gives them control over what they are doing. If the scoff everything in the first 10 minutes, that is a lesson learned when it comes to the afternoon and they want more (say no)
Most kids will learn to self regulate but they need the opportunity to make mistakes first and learn from them. (If you give in and give them more, what they have learned is that mom is a pushover and so I can just get more snacks if I want them)
Alternatively add official snack time into your new routine.
And What About Screen Time?
Ahhh the elephant in the room!
This is tricky but we are not in a normal situation so I think the rules need looking at again.
Screens are keeping us connected right now, they are allowing us to work and learn and in many ways enriching our lives.
But we also know that too much screen time is not good for our health. I feel that this is very much a time to set your own family rules and a lot of that will depend on how your child is being schooled at the moment.
Also the child’s personality needs to be taken into account and the type of activity they are doing on the screen.
We have a basic but brilliant (even if I do say so myself) rule when it comes to screen time.
No matter who it is in the family, the rule is that you must Create more that you Consume.
Learning new skills
Video editing & production
Reading ebooks etc.
Scrolling on social media
Playing most games
Watching stupid YouTube videos
The basic difference is that with Create, you are using your brain and using the screen as a tool to better yourself in some way. Consume is entertainment and often used for numbing the brain.
Even though it might feel easier initially to let the kids just do what they want and have as much screen time as they like, it’s actually easier for all involved to set some boundaries in place.
No doubt, there will be whinging, moaning and quite possibly full-on meltdowns, this is the time to stand strong and send them off to find something else to do.
I Don’t Have Time
I get it, everything is upside down and you feel like you have 1001 more things to do in the day. Especially if you are trying to school the kids and get your work done.
But here’s the thing, you are not running around taking the kids to club activities, doing school drop off, nipping down to the shops, meeting friends for coffee, commuting and all the other out-of-the-house time sucks.
Talking to one of my SPARK Masterminders the other day, she had a lightbulb moment.
Normally she would be running around, with after school activities, doing some shopping, sport clubs etc. from finishing school at 3pm until dinner time around 6pm.
Those 3 hours have become her sons ‘chat and play with friends’ time and so she has a nice solid block of time to sit and concentrate on writing her book.
You might not have such a big chunk of time, but rethink your old schedule and jiggle with the new one, I am betting there are pockets of time to be found.
Old Rules Are Out – You Make The New Ones
It does feel like we are living through the 1984 novel with so many rules and restrictions in place but we also get to make our own rules.
You get to control what is happening at home so play with it. Change and tweak until you find what works for your family.
With your evening meal ask the family 2 questions:
ONE – What didn’t work today?
TWO – What did work well today?
And with the answers, mould the next day a little differently, reflect and improve.