How to Create the Structure that is Essential for Children Right Now

I really experience restlessness. It’s not necessarily anxiety driven it’s more about productivity. For as long as I can remember weekends have been tough for me. While most other people can’t wait for a lazy start, a sleep in and not having a routine it has always been the hardest two days of the week for me.

I have been working with more kids and youth that are depressed in my clinic in the past two months than ever before. (At the end of this article I give you my top tips for implementing healthy structure for children during this uncertain time.)

These kids are restless too. I see that the lack of structure and purpose creating disorientation for these kids. For me, not having the structure of home schooling and work leaves me in no-mans -land where I feel really lost on a weekend. I’m seeing these feelings and observing these behaviors in these kids too. Every day is like a weekend, but without sports, play dates and being able to play outside with their friends.

I think there are people who definitely thrive on structure more than others. I see this in specifical homeopathic constitutions such as Sepia and Arsenicum in my clinic. I have taken a lot of doses of these remedies over the years and it definitely has settled me down and helped me achieve more emotional resilience. Similarly it’s these remedies constitutionally that are more likely to be struggling with the limitations of this COVID lockdown and the restrictions that it has enforced.

I was laughing on the weekend with a friend about how my retirement plan is to never retire as I will just be a BEAST to everyone round me. Without feeling like I have achieved something everyday or served someone or used my brain I really get so disorientated. This could be the single mum, always ON mindset, never having down time and so now I don’t really know what to do with it?

I don’t miss out on the self care, I make time to exercise and do yoga, I catch up with friends. It’s not about me not being able to stop and take care of myself. It’s not about needing to be busy either or an investment in busyness. It’s more about the purpose and fulfillment that structure brings.

It’s exactly the same for these kids — their purpose and their sense of fulfillment and achieving something every day has been taken away. Instead of feeling safe and knowing what is expected from the adults and world around them they feel unsure, they have anxiety and they don’t know where their secure footing is because the structure and the expectations are not there.

We are all going through this for the first time — adults are feeling this way too! We feel lost, unfulfilled and unsure where to place our efforts so this in itself can feel so unsettling for children. They look to us to create safety and permanency. Children look to the adults around them to create the boundaries.

Here are my tips to creating an essential structure to every day that will help your children feel safer, more fulfilled and productive:

  1. Make them make their bed, clear their bedroom floor and have a shower and get dressed every day. Pajama days are fun once in a while but sitting around the house in sweats day after day and not wearing pajamas to bed and sleeping in yesterday’s clothes can become unhealthy and allow an acceptance of just everyday laziness! You as the adult — do the same! Do your hair, put on deodorant and put on jeans and a t shirt instead of tracksuit pants!
  2. Eat regularly — snacking endlessly on junk food plays around heavily with blood sugar levels and can accentuate moodiness, depression and feeling low. Regular, made from scratch meals help to create routine in the day as well as promoting healthier food choices. Try to eat regularly as a family around the table or have a picnic without screens to encourage conversation and connection.
  3. Limit screen time — it’s unhealthy to be indoors all day and atatched to a screen for fulfilment. Set timers for EVERYONE and break up the day and screen time with walks, cooking, chatting with friends on the phone and playing board games and puzzles.
  4. Encourage video chats with family and friends — almost everyone has a smart device now and can jump on a video call. Share your screens and even do arts and crafts, watch movies and cook dinner together on the video calls.
  5. Create something to look forward to once a week. This brings structure to the week as a whole. Whether it’s picnic with friends, a virtual Netflix party or ordering a new puzzle or video game, online it gives them something to look forward to.

Above all, our mental health and wellbeing is the MOST challenging part of the COVID global situation, not the risk of the virus itself! Managing the expectations, connection and attitudes of our children and ourselves in this time is paramount.

Personally, one of things that helps me the most is to have a plan for tomorrow the night before. This helps me no end with my headspace when I wake up as I know there is a rhythm that is in place.

Finally, create a daily and weekly structure so that at the end of the day you have something you achieved — even if it’s just simply making home made bread. Similarly, plan yours days like I do, so that tomorrow your child has something to wake up and look forward to.

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