Here are our tips for setting a routine at home, now that the family are working and schooling from home.
* Set a routine schedule for the kids; it helps make things predictable for the children.
* Communicate with your partner and share the workloads: one of you works (the paid work) while the other looks after house/food/children (the super-valuable unpaid work), then you swap.
* With a steady schedule in place with your partner, you will know when you will be available for video conferences with colleagues, for example. Stick to that schedule as much as you can.
* If you are on house/food/children duty and are squeezing work in on the side, that’s fine, but if the children need attention remember YOU are on duty and your prompt attention to their needs will ensure your partner can keep working (and they will do the same for you when it is their turn).
* Schedule in that each parent gets a bit of free time once a week as well, while the other does the children/food/household.
* Whenever both parents can work (ie kids’ nap times, special movie time), do that.
* Involve children in laundry folding, bed making, dishwashing, meal preparation, etc… even if it takes three times as long, it counts as time spent with them, keeps them busy and keeps your household moving forward.
* Plan (and shop for) your meals for the week so you don’t have to interrupt your partner’s work to find out what am I meant to be cooking tonight, nor find out that the ingredients you planned to use on your rostered dinner-night have already been used up.
* Be realistic in what you can achieve at (paid) work. Your productivity may well dip but that is to be expected.
* If trying to juggle it all starts negatively affecting your relationship with your children, stop and reassess your priorities. Hone down your work commitments or seek outside help.
* Be patient and kind to each other and to the children…. Remember it’s tricky for everyone to adjust to the new situation.
* Remember the children are not actually trying to wreck your work life (really, they’re not! It just seems like it sometimes!)… They just want love and attention.
* Our teachers will help you by preparing some materials (which we will post on the webpage and email to our GAP families) with activity ideas, and hopefully we will be able to make little videos for the children, too.
* If you have room, set up individual spaces in the house so you each have somewhere to retreat to recharge and maintain your sanity.
* Keep your family routines: Keep normal meal times, wake and sleep times.
* Get dressed properly for work on your work days. It maintains a sense of normalcy and reminds you you’re still working.
* Make a “happy list” of things you can do and enjoy while at home, include things you can do even when locked down or isolated.
* Music is a wonderful mood setter. Use music to calm children and your household, or cheer everyone up.
* To cut down on the number of directions (orders) you need to give to children throughout the day, like “brush your teeth, get ready for bed, come to the table to eat, tidy up, rest time…” keep to routines and take a tip from our teachers and choose some non-verbal cues such as a certain song or the sound of a little bell or similar to signal the beginning of routine activities. GAP children will know [ring, ring! (of a bell)] “Wir räumen auf!” or “Wir gehen rein!” for example.
* The children have all learned how to sit quietly for one minute (and sometimes longer) having meditation time at GAP. It is a great calmer. Ask them to show you how to do it, and add it to your regular daily routine (we did it 2-3 times per day at GAP after circle/story time and before handwashing and meals). We sometimes chime a little triangle [ding!] to gently signal the end of meditation time.
* Remember that ‘social distancing’ is really just ‘physical distancing’; keep in social contact with your friends, neighbours, colleagues and extended family.
* Think of lockdowns, travel bans and closures not as a reason for panic, but more as a chance for humanity to all stand still for a while, in an act of mass cooperation worldwide to protect the vulnerable in our society.