Establishing Routines During Covid-19

Establishing Routines During Covid-19

Establishing routines during Covid-19 can help the children in your life cope with the change.
Image credit to Ling Ltd -

2020, a year that no one will forget. Parents became teachers at home, children took to their tablets, mayhem surrounded everyone- but let’s not forget about our young kids who do not understand why the world has been flipped upside down. They think, “Why?” “How?” “Will I ever go back?” Our students rely heavily on routine, as they should. Getting kids ready for school is difficult enough. But what happens when that routine is suddenly disrupted? What happened to routines during 2020? What can we do to establish routines during Covid-19?

Medical research suggests that Covid-19 is not a “children’s disease,” because few cases are confirmed in young children. But the question is, what about the disease of mayhem, disruption, and change? With the craziness of the world today, it’s easy to forget about our tiny ones who are suddenly acting out, throwing tantrums, and unsure of what is happening to their daily routine. Here are some ideas on how to productively talk to your kids about the disruption of Covid-19:

Children’s Routines During Covid-19

Creating routines during Covid-19 for your children will help them tremendously. Here are some easy ideas you can implement:

  1. Social stories
    1. Social stories are a great way for parents to incorporate adult-like conversations in a way that children understand. I recommend reading the story to your children multiple times, make it a routine- whether it be before bed, in the morning, wherever it fits in your daily routine. 
    2. Social stories can be customized around the child (using their own name, pictures that they are familiar with, etc.)
    3. A way to make the story fun and creative for your kiddo is to print the story, and have them color the pictures whichever way they want to. 
  2. Create a NEW and IMPROVED routine
    1. Routine is critical for our children. It keeps them in sync, and more importantly comfortable. 
    2. Make a visual schedule for your new routine, place it somewhere that is visible often for your child. Use bright, vibrant colors, or even make it interactive! 
    3. Be sure to go over the new routine often; this will help your child to recognize what is coming next and the expectations for their day.
  3. Decompression and Quality time
    1. During these crazy times, our little ones tend to act out in pure confusion. Remain patient, even when the tantrums seem to be never ending. 
      1. Talk your child through the tantrum
      2. Give them a tight hug
      3. Children rely on parents, and familiar adults to reassure and keep them safe during confusing times, be that blanket for your kiddo. 

Parents’ Routines During Covid-19

COVID-19 did not just affect our little ones, but what about parents at home? Everyone knows that parenting is a full-time job. Parents are the true superheroes, but did we know that these superheroes are now expected to be full time teachers, caregivers, referees, and also supposed to find a way to keep up with their daily jobs as an adult? Let’s talk about strategies for this never-ending job that parents have fallen into in the year of 2020. 

  • Make it fun. You are the teacher now, you make the rules! pick out some of your children’s favorite things and incorporate them in your daily plans for school lessons. 
    • Bring their favorite stuffed animal, or action figure to their work space- look at that! A new classmate.
    • Be creative. Learning does not have to be only made up of worksheets and computer lessons. Incorporate daily life skills that may even cut your work in half!
    • Matching socks to be folded
    • Sorting different pieces of laundry 
    • Putting dishes in designated areas 
    • Gathering toys
  • Create a SAFE learning space
    • Make a space in your home that is quiet and designated for learning, whether this be an area where they can do online learning, therapy, or sit down and do work with their designated parent teacher.
    • Establish the rules for this area. It’s a safe learning space for your child. 
    • Create a visual schedule for learning time. Use picture cards to represent what your child will be doing that day. 
    • Who is perfect anyways?! I’m not, you aren’t, they aren’t, WE aren’t. 
    • Take the mess ups, the tears, frustrations, and imperfect lessons and run with them. Just when you think NOTHING can go wrong… 
    • Stop putting unrealistic expectations on yourself as a parent. YOU are saving the day.
  • Even superheroes have off days
    • Keep going, even on the days that seem impossible.
    • Rely on your support system, as we ALL rely on you.

As we dive into the 2021-2022 school year, let’s not forget that we are a team: me, you, children, doctors, teachers… humanity. This has been a year of change, adjustment, and learning. Be that outlet for your children, and let them be your outlet. We are in this together through the good days and bad days. Establishing routines during Covid-19 can certainly help. For more information or if you have specific questions regarding your child’s reaction to a new routine, ask our specialized instructors for guidance. 


About the Author

Julie Gillespie is a certified special and general educator who provides specialized instruction to children and families. Julie has been working in early intervention for two years. She enjoys creating meaningful relationships with families, where she is able to support parents not only by providing strategies that they can utilize, but also by being an outlet for parents to lean on. Julie loves early intervention because she can create fun, meaningful, and direct plans in order to best meet individual children’s needs. Julie strives to make an impact on each individual child and their families that she works with.

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