What happens if your routine is turned upside down? Upsetting the natural order is one of the things that causes us the most stress. As creatures of habit, changing one's routine, location of work or school, living situation or daily schedule can completely disrupt our lives.
Throw in a global pandemic and loss of income with an unknown end time, and you have the perfect storm for high levels of chronic stress.
You Have to Make a NEW Routine -- A New Plan of the Day (POD)
What is your new normal? You have to find it. This starts with sitting down with people in your household and having a discussion. There should be things to do throughout the day -- from household chores and cleaning, schoolwork or reading time for kids, work for parents, play time and fitness for everyone and breaks for meals and outdoor activity (even if that's just an open window for fresh air).
However, there are rules a smart team or family member should follow:
1. If you or your spouse have a system for how the house operates, try to utilize most of what is already working.
For instance, when a member of the family is deployed, the rest of the family figures out a new system to deal with the deployment. The last thing that a newly returned parent needs to do is disrupt that system. Learn to work with it.
The same holds true for this situation. Don't disrupt how the day flows from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. if you are not normally around the house then.
2. Take advantage of this time and teach your kids things that are not taught in school. From laundry to changing a car tire to balancing a checkbook, there is a "laundry list" of life's lessons that we all need to learn. Utilize this time wisely.
3. Work on any personal discrepancies or weaknesses. Learn something new or get back into shape.
Start a training program and definitely keep it up even if you cannot make it to the gym. Do things together as a family, and put it in the daily schedule.
Here is a sample schedule for a six-person household in the suburbs that includes school-aged kids and working parents:
Parents Wake Up Earlier. If you prefer getting your workouts done or creative work that requires quiet time, wake up an hour before the rest of your family. Rising before 5 or 6 a.m. will be sufficient to get a jump on the day and enable you to have some personal ME time as you have to spend much of the day focused on others in the family.
However, if you are more of a night owl, consider making some productive time after the kids have gone to bed. I would avoid getting exercise too late in the evening, as it will have a tendency to keep you awake longer and could disrupt sleep if done too closely to bedtime. Work out no earlier than 3 to 4 hours prior to bedtime.
Awaken the House/Breakfast -- 7 to 8 a.m. Prepare a good, healthy breakfast for you and your family. Get ready to start the day.
Time to Get to Work. Keep the kids on a normal work schedule, especially if school is required during the day with online classes or other schoolwork. Keep that time between breakfast and lunch devoted to work -- either schoolwork or parent business.
Between 8 a.m. and noon. Take a few 15-minute breaks to walk outside, play with the dog or get some fresh air together.
Lunch and Walk or Play -- Between 12:00-1:30 p.m. If you would like to remain productive into the afternoon, eat lunch and take a 10-15 minute walk or stationary bike (if quarantined) to keep moving. This will help you with the post-lunch slowdown.
If you're not pressed for time, take a 15- to 20-minute nap. If the children are younger or going through growth spurts, an afternoon nap will help with overall mood and energy levels too.
Early to Mid-Afternoon. Get additional schoolwork, homework or business done. Finish the day strong with a power push to complete things on the to-do list. Then, it is time to play.
Mid- to Late Afternoon. This is a great time for sports, exercise and play in the yard, if available. Since school sports practices are usually taking place at this time, try to keep it at the same time of the day as preparation for the time when your schedule is back to normal again.
After Sports: Clean Up. If schoolwork and personal work is complete, add in extra things in the house to learn, read a book or have a set time for video games and leisure time. Get ready for the next day of outdoor or indoor activities by cleaning up the area you just used. Any final chores around the house before dinner? Get those done.
Dinner. Sit down and enjoy dinner together. Take advantage of this time with very little to do outside the home, and catch up on life.
Family Time and Games. Bring out the board games, watch a movie and relax for a while after work is done. Get young ones ready for bed with a normal bedtime routine, and get ready to start another day.
The goal of this time is to create a structure that works for you and your family or members of your household. Get out as much as you can, but try to keep a system that creates purpose for you and members of the house. Hang in there, and stay healthy.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to email@example.com.
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