How have things been for you over the last few months?
Between a pandemic, wildfires and distance learning with the kids, things can often seem chaotic. It’s never easy when our regular routines are thrown into disorder. As parents we often have a hard enough time maintaining some sense of order among the crazy, let alone managing our roles as “magic keepers” for our kids!
But, in a sense, finding the magic is more important now than ever—for our kids and ourselves. As our routines are turned upside down and we find our feet in a “new normal” for a while, here are some ideas for keeping the magic alive:
Create your own school rituals
There’s no doubt that being unable to attend school in a traditional sense has been challenging for many kids. It’s not just that they miss their friends and teachers, but kids thrive on rituals and routines. They like knowing the 10:15 bell signals recess and that third period on Tuesdays is math.
With distance learning in place for many, that reliable routine is often missing. For many kids, this is a source of anxiety and confusion. It’s hard to transition from sitting in a classroom under the supervision of your teacher to doing work at the dining table at home.
What can we do to hold some of the routine and focus that makes school days work for kids? Creating your own school rituals can help. Maybe they can’t physically go to school, but they can follow a similar routine.
For example, you can continue the usual morning habits—wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed—and maybe add something that will get your kids enthusiastic for the day. Could you have a before-school dance break? A family walk?
With many schools now doing distance learning for the second time around, hopefully you’ll find they’ve put together a set schedule. If not, create one. Display it on a whiteboard or poster where your kids can see it, and potentially set alarms to signify each period.
It’s often the little things that help to keep the magic alive for kids. If you don’t already know, ask them: what things do they miss the most about school? This gives you a good place to start to add in some meaningful routines.
Start a tradition
Traditions are something that can strengthen your bond as a family and help to enrich time together. There is magic in tradition, and you’ll find that kids often associate great memories with even the most basic family traditions.
In a COVID world, some of those traditions are possibly more difficult, especially if they involve getting together with others. Your kids might feel sad about being unable to attend summer family camp or weekly get-togethers, but you can still establish traditions that will be special for them.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be big and elaborate to be considered special. Admittedly, our slightly more jaded adult brains can often lean toward bigger things, but have you noticed your kids don’t think that way? Kids can find the magic in the small moments and those are a great place to start. Some of them may be great as part of your daily routine, for example:
Family meals. Perhaps you always begin with grace or showing gratitude in some way. Make it a device-free zone with cellphones and tablets put away. You could encourage everyone to share something about their day, such as an interesting fact or story they have heard.
Family hugs. You could have a tradition of at least one family group hug per day.
- Bedtime stories. These don’t have to be something kids grow out of! Check out this story about a father and daughter who kept up the tradition until she left for college.
You might also have weekly traditions—family movie night or game night. Talk to your kids about traditions and their meaning. Do your kids have any ideas for traditions they’d love to start?
Take time to celebrate
You could say that celebrating is more important now than ever. When we celebrate even small successes, it helps to give us a lift and focus on the positive. Celebrating can be anything from a high five to a special dance to an added sticker on a chart. Look for things to celebrate in daily life at home, like learning something new at school or mastering a new skill. Parents can celebrate their work or home successes too!
Special events like birthdays can be challenging when you have to think outside of parties and get-togethers. There are still many ways to make birthdays magical at home, though. We shared a few ideas in this article, from creating a scavenger hunt for a birthday present to making birthday coupons for the special things your child loves.
Maintain home routines
We mentioned routines for the school day, but it’s equally important to maintain some sense of normalcy in home routines, even if everything outside of home isn’t normal. Things like getting dressed properly for school are important because it helps set the tone for the day. Kids often need this to be in the right mindset for their school work.
Home routines might include things like doing chores. Hey, your kids might not exactly consider them to be “magic” right now, but research shows that being given responsibilities helps kids feel special. They feel that they are growing up and are more competent and capable. Framing chores as responsibilities can help to build self-esteem and motivation.
Bathtime is another good one for building a routine that can be magical for kids. Have you listened to your kids playing in the bath? They make up stories while playing with toys, and even cups and spoons are fun. Bathtime is where imaginations run wild—you can help bring the magic with something as basic as bubble bath. You can even set up activities— most kids will love fishing in the bath or making shaving cream bathtub paint.
Take time out
Finally—and parents, we know this one isn’t always easy—take some time out for yourself. Social-distancing has meant you also don’t get to partake in some of your usual activities, so it can be challenging to maintain a positive mindset.
As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Or, from our perspective, it’s hard to find the magic when you’re not feeling it! It’s important to find ways to take time out and rejuvenate—perhaps with a quiet cup of tea on your porch or a good book after lights out.
Maintaining connections with your support network is also helpful, even if you can’t meet up in-person. For example, we know some parents who get together on Zoom with wine or coffee, just to have a chat about how everyone is doing.
To add one final note, it’s totally OK to feel overwhelmed during this time of so much turbulence. Take it easy on yourself as a parent and you may find it’s easier to take those small moments of magic with your kids.
Remember, sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest impact. Stay magical. We’re here for you.