Back when life was "normal" we knew when we needed to be doing something and when we had time to do nothing and just relax. We woke up for work, got the kids ready for school, went to the office, came home, made dinner, had some downtime, and went to bed. We did this again, and again, and again.
Now, the lines are blurry. There are no set times anymore. We wake up later or whenever we want, school times are now flexible, we are working longer hours, eating later, sleeping later and we are losing track of what day it is, or is that just me?
As promised from my last blog, "We are together ALL THE TIME now", here's one suggestion on how to stay on track in this "new normal". Develop a routine. This not only keeps things on track, but also supports creativity, reduces stress, improves sleep, provides stability, and increases productivity. When you have a routine, you can also give yourself some well-deserved NIKSEN time.
We have to thank the Dutch for the word/concept, Niksen. It literally means to do nothing or being idle. Now doesn’t that sound good? Ahhhh, Calgon take me away.
Now that you think routines are a good idea and you agree, with yourself, to give it a try, where do you start? Here are some helpful hints on how to build a routine for you and with the kids.
Prep your list: write down your daily/weekly/monthly activities to see what should be added to your routine. You can have multiple routines for mornings, weekends, work, or nighttime or even one big one you focus on in smaller sections.
Time frames: add a realistic time for accomplishing each activity. This helps build a productive schedule while limiting pressure and stress.
Small chunks: break activities into smaller chunks. Instead of clean the house, try getting specific: clean the kitchen, or do the dishes. This makes it easier to tackle and increases the opportunity for greater success.
Understand yourself: when are you most productive? Are you a morning person like me, or do you do your best work at the end of the day? Plan your routine accordingly to be most productive.
Commit: write it all down, find a starting point, add it to a calendar, display it on a wall, and stay focused. Find someone to keep you accountable, if needed.
Forgiveness: If you miss a day, skip an activity, or take longer than expected, it's okay. Just start again.
Niksen time: now this is important, don’t forget to build in some time to do nothing, just be idle, just be. Again, doesn’t that sound good?
For your children:
Smaller routines: build a routine for a specific time of the day. Think about getting ready for school, bedtime, or chores. Let’s use bedtime as an example.
Prep the list: work WITH your child to list what needs to be done. If they help make the list they are more likely to follow it. Keeping with our example of a bedtime routine, your child may list things like read a story, get in pajamas, prepare clothes for tomorrow. You may need to remind them to add brush their teeth or put their toys away.
Make it fun: for small children, let them write the list, draw pictures, or cut out images that will help remind them what needs to be done.
Get buy-in: ask your child if they agree with what was listed, if they feel it covers everything, and do they like it? If they agree, it's more likely to ensure follow-through from them.
Reminders: by using the routine chart you can now ASK your child what’s on their routine chart instead of TELLING them to brush their teeth every day. You aren't seen as the bad guy all the time. This works for young and older children (works great with my teens)
Forgiveness: children may struggle to stick to the routine, heck we may struggle to stick to the routine. Make any slip-ups a learning experience and start up again as soon as possible.
Niksen time: everyone needs time to do nothing, especially children, so feel free to build that in.
Stay tuned for next time when I will be discussing Positive Time Out, and more Niksen time (I’m loving this concept).
Here are some links to the benefits of routines and how to build them. Heck, there’s even an app for that.
A little something about Niksen for you:
h/t to Positive Discipline, Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott