Maintaining Good Sleep Habits for Your Child in a Pandemic
Many parents are working from home, and with that can come kids running in during a Zoom or an important call! They may be constantly tugging at your leg when you are working on your computer, and you find yourself becoming short-tempered. Not only did kids have their routine of school suddenly stop, it's also a bit odd for them to have you home too!
We all know that kids thrive with routine. They deserve to know what is expected of them. When their schedule changes day-to-day, there is a lack of consistency. A lack of consistency often feels unsafe and unsure. Going to school adds structure to their day, no doubt, and doing school at home is new and odd and needs structured time as well.
Having a structured day and routine for your kid is pretty obvious, so everyone does not lose their minds! However, I believe adding rituals can be quite a grounding and magical thing for both your child and you.
Most parents already have a bedtime ritual in place. Bedtime rituals can be very intimate and even sacred. Most bedtime routines involve the basics; bath, books, story, a chat about the day, a song, prayers, or some combination that looks like this. A bedtime ritual is special for both parent and child.
I suggest adding new daytime rituals. I am not suggesting that you do a bedtime routine three times a day! I am suggesting creating and carving out small moments in the day for new rituals with your child.
Maybe lunch isn't just lunch, but you have "Daddy Reading Time" after lunch for fifteen minutes. Perhaps you set up a small area in the corner of the living room with floor pillows that has a box filled with markers and sticker books. You can decorate the box and name it; this is now your fifteen-minute coloring ritual with your child.
Get creative. You can create wrestle time or snuggle time or kick a soccer ball time or dance party time. Just name it. Call it something! It is OK to keep it short. When you take your twenty-minute work break, grab your snack, and you can have it while you’re in "Dad's Coloring Corner Time". I think naming things makes it fun. It is something sure to look forward to and is identifiable for kids.
I worked with a father who could never make it home in time for the bedtime routine, and it bummed him out. We gave him a wake-up routine with his daughter that involved going into a tent with two books, sliced bananas, and lots of pillows, and two funny stories. Special "Dad Wake-up Time" was a wonderful bonding time. He and his daughter looked forward to it every morning.
Creating rituals creates memories. Instead of this unpredictable time in life being negative and stressed, you can create moments of real connection and meaning.
Your kids can look forward to these special markers throughout the day. To a kid, your workday is a never-ending event. They do not perceive time in the same way that adults do. If they are tugging at your pants when you are on a work call, you can remind them that you have "Daddy X time" at eleven o'clock, and you are so excited.
I suggest placing these tiny pockets of named rituals at the same time each day. It can be a game-changer!