How many parents out there are just trying to survive the week? Maybe you’re a mom hiding in a closet or a pantry after work so you can sneak a break and eat chocolate? Did you see the Ellen show about a mom doing just this? Here’s a link if you need a laugh… Ellen
Well we have some mindful tips, tricks, and practices for you if your that mom hiding and eating chocolate (or dad of coarse). These tips and steps can help your work week run a little smoother while also reconnecting with your little ones. Connection prevents challenging behaviors.
First of all, children thrive on routine. In fact this study proves that parents who stuck with routine dealt with less daily behavioral problems, ROUTINE BENEFITS.
Routines are hard at first; push through the initial week and you will be so happy you did!
Below is an example of an after work /school routine. Please go ahead and modify to fit your family’s personal preferences, however the first step will help you have LESS chores while also instilling responsibility in your children, so we highly recommend that one.
……So you walk through the door at the end of the day annnnddd…..
1.Put stuff away– When you walk through the door, everyone puts away their bags, dishes from lunchboxes, trash from lunch, and takes out homework and puts it on the table. This one is immediate, no questions asked.
(Did your child walk into their room without doing it? Make them come back and do it, eventually they will understand you’re not budging on this.)
- Snack time– prep a snack with the kids or everyone can grab their own and meet at the table. Everyone is MUCH happier when they are full.
(here you can reconnect while eating together and chatting about anything you like! It doesn’t have to be about your day)
- FORGET SCREEN TIME!
OK, you are probably thinking that I am CRAZY for suggesting this, but screen time has been proven again and again to effect sleep and mood. It is also likely your kids already had screen time at school in some form.
Try this instead— No screens during the week, weekends can be a free for all. We will come back to the screen issue later in this post.
- Quality Time– Trust me on this one. If you make this a priority before starting dinner or other nightly chores, you will find that you are getting interrupted MUCH less. during your evening chores. Here’s some ideas for connection—
—Snuggle on the couch and read
—Infants may need you to hold and rock them for 10 minutes or so.
—Lay on the floor with the infant and talk to them
—do a puzzle on the floor
—paint a picture together
—Run around playing soccer in the back yard
—older kids may want to sit and chat with you
—ask the child what they want to do!
The list COULD go on and on, but I think you get the idea.
Here’s a TIP for quality time — Create a time limit for each child; feel free to use a timer. Professionals who use Parent Child Interaction Therapy, (LINK HERE), would recommend 15 min for each child each day. You and your partner, (if applicable), can take turns switching out children. Kind of like musical chairs…but…. with children.
Like I said earlier about routine, you have to push through the first week or even two weeks to see positive results.
Positive results might be—- Less meltdowns, less whining, less attention seeking behavior (basically less annoying behavior, lets be honest), less sibling rivalry, or maybe just less interrupted time for you…
At first the timer could cause meltdowns when the child knows their time is up. This is NORMAL. This is a transition and adjustment for all of you! Be kind to yourself and your kids; allow grace.
IMPORTANT TIP– Once your child sees that this special time is actually occurring EVERYDAY, the timer will not throw them into the woes of a tantrum anymore. This is because they TRUST you will spend this time with them again tomorrow. TRUST is key here.
Quality time is preventive maintenance ♥♥
- Dinner– Now you can walk away and actually start dinner!
(Yes I am going to say this again…. push through the first week!)
Do you have a child still lingering by your side? Let them help! They can stir, chop up a veggie, pour, or be your fetcher.
If you are already doing things in the evening that are working, don’t feel like you have to follow this exact routine… this is an example, PLEASE modify to fit your family.
In the Midst of Routine here’s how you can incorporate Mindfulness
Validate your children’s feelings. Don’t get caught up in dismissing them in your attempts to calm them. Validation will calm them faster than getting frustrated will. Let go of judgement.
How do you validate? Here’s some examples…
“It’s so hard waiting your turn”
“You are so mad about _______”
“You don’t like putting your bag away and we have to” (This one is validating AND telling the child we are still going to do XYZ)
“Being at school all day is hard”
Validation and empathy typically go hand in hand. When you are empathetic you are taking the time to feel your child’s feelings. It is a bit of a mind-shift. Instead of thinking, “why isn’t my child listening?! They need to listen to me!” try thinking, “how can I help them feel better so they will cooperate?”
The most important part of mindfulness is letting go of expectations. Don’t expect your toddler to listen. Most toddlers don’t because they don’t understand how or why. Their brains are not developed enough to rationalize; they are emotionally driven— this is why validation helps—you are speaking their language (emotion).
This goes on for a while as children age too. Elementary kids are so busy creating ideas in their mind that they don’t typically notice what you are saying right away…. Acknowledge that and let the judgement go— take a moment to walk up to them and look at them while you are giving a direction.
Also notice that this is a transition for yourself too. The new routine could trigger stress for you. Just like your children will need an adjustment period, you will too. Children just make it more obvious by having meltdowns while an older child (or yourself) will have an attitude or express frustration. Again, POWER THROUGH the week! You can do this!
Overview of mindfulness
-Validate how they feel
-Lower your expectations of your children’s ACTUAL cognitive and emotional abilities
-Be aware of your own emotions– Are you just reacting to the events around you?
-Let go of judgement— Judgement of yourself and of those around you. There really is something to the saying of “Just Be.”
I have this hanging in my home to remind me to JUST BREATH before Reacting.
Ok you are probably cursing me out for even suggesting no screens during the week….
If you have a high schooler who needs to do research as part of their homework then that would of coarse be an exception. Research, however, suggests cutting off screen time at LEAST 30 minutes before bed (National Sleep Foundation). I personally recommend two hours before bed just because of my own experience with my kids in the evening, but most research says 30 minutes to an hour is fine.
Children who have a daily routine that involves screen time are 5.8 times more likely to develop social – emotional delays than children who do not have screen time everyday (Raman et al., 2017). Social emotional delays include communication lags and the ability to develop relationships with others.
Face Time: In today’s modern time we associate this with an iPad, our phones or even tablets. No matter the age of our children in our families, having time and space where we play old fashion silly games, have conversations, and spend time with each other is always important. There’s always so many distractions outside of the home; work, school, meetings, practices, etc. Inside the home it’s very important that we try to eliminate those distractions.
Quick Tips For Making your Weekly Routine Easier
- Worry about chores for the weekend. Saturday can be the cleaning day and Sunday can be family time day or vice versa.
- If you have a partner you guys can take turns with dinner clean up. It’s really hard to cook dinner the next day if the dishes aren’t done right? Make dinner clean up a priority. Single parent? Have kids help or do them after kids are in bed– I know that is tiring, but when you get home to a clean sink you’ll thank yourself.
- Meal Prep on the weekends! Again Saturdays can be clean and meal prep days. Frozen veggie bags are SUPER helpful because they are already cut for you.
- Have an area (no matter how big or small) dedicated to play or calming activities. It can simply be a corner of a room. See below for activity ideas and pictures!
BONUS— Here’s a couple Soothing and Engaging Activities to keep your kids out of your hair!
Above are pictures of waterbeads, sensory bottles you can make at home, playdough you can make at home, and a calming corner with a sensory basket.
Links and recipes for these are below…
Sensory Bottle– Any empty water bottle will do. Fill 2/3rds of it with hot water. Fill the rest with either clear school glue or glitter glue. If you use plain clear glue you may add any kind of glitter you like (the more the better in my opinion!). Shake up!
Calm corner– Have your children help you with this. You can use blankets, dolls, pillows, books…etc. The basket of items can be fidget spinners, squeezy balls, a sensory bottle… Be creative!
Play dough— Great for working out children’s stress. Link for recipe– BEST PLAY DOUGH RECIPE
Please comment if you need more ideas for independent calming play!
Review of Routine
- Put away work and school bags
- Meet at table for snack and chat
- No screen time
- 10-15 minutes of quality time. Set a timer
- Dinner prep (kids can help if necessary)
- Dinner clean up (whole family can work together)
- Your family’s bedtime routine
Remember to let go of unnecessary expectations from yourself and your children. Letting go can be incredibly relieving. Good Luck!
Blog Team Credits–
Susan Dorswitt, Rasha Abdullah, and Allerik Freeman. We are from North Carolina State University Graduate School.
Bridley, A., & Jordan, S. S. (2012). Child Routines Moderate Daily Hassles and Children’s Psychological Adjustment. Children’s Health Care, 41(2), 129-144. doi:10.1080/02739615.2012.657040
National Sleep Foundation. Scary Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep. Retrieved from https://sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/
Raman, S., Guerrero-Duby, S., McCullough, J.L., Brown, M., Ostrowski-Delahanty, S., Langkamp, D., & Duby, J., (2017). Screen Exposure During Daily Routines and a Young Child’s Risk for Having Social-Emotional Delay. Clinical Pediatrics. 56(13), 1244–1253. doi:10.1177/0009922816684600