How Yoga can help your Family with change of routines
When I first typed the title of this blog I had written 'How Yoga can help your child with change of routines' but I quickly realised that actually what I was going to write was going to be more focused around you and your child.
In this post I will share why the thought of the holidays used to stress me out, why it can be hard for children and grownups, how lockdown actually helped me out of this rut, being bored vs planned activities, how Yoga can help bring some calm and balance in this time and also how themes might be just what you need to inspire some play!
Holidays are stressful!
I can remember the thought of the school holidays would have me feeling stressed. It wasn't that I didn't love spending time with my children, it was just the change of routine would change everything.
I have my own little routines that I get on with when the children are at school, like many parents (be it work, chores or even some much needed self-care time).
When the children are home, it can feel more challenging to get these things done or you may feel guilty because you feel you should be spending time with them instead, or doing something super fun like Jake's parents who are taking him to a castle and having a yummy lunch together (you know because you saw all the pictures on social media). That comparison kicks in and suddenly what you are doing, doesn't feel like enough. This can lead to so much stress, resentment, feelings of not being good enough, and sadness.
For children, change of routine might feel great at first, they love having time off from school but unless there is something planned for the day they can start getting bored, irritable, watching way too much tv and then getting annoyed when it's time to turn it off, they don't want to get dressed and sometimes it's 3pm and you just just realised that they haven't brushed their teeth yet.
On a school morning they have a set routine and order of doing things, they always get their teeth brushed and dressed no bother. This change of morning routine may feel great, you get to slow down a bit but it can quickly turn to frustration.
I love slow mornings, they can be amazing at the weekend but when we have a week or two week off school, this slow routine does not work for us everyday. Suddenly there would be arguments because one child wanted to stay home in their pyjamas and the other wanted to go out and do something. I wouldn't be able to get any work done because they were restless and wanted my attention. Then when it came time to go back to school, they would be so resistant to getting up in the morning or even going to bed at a decent time. There were many mood swings and tantrums and everyone was struggling with this change of routine, and the going back to the normal routine.
How Lockdown turned this around
It was actually lockdown that helped us get out of this rut when it came to school holidays. Being almost forced to stay home, no school, no fun days out (in the sense of going to the cinema or swimming etc), really made me consider what the best way to make this work for everyone.
I no longer had to worry about comparisons or what I 'should' be doing, the main thing was keeping us safe and the kids happy.
In this time we learnt:
Why do we find change of routine so hard?
I get decision making fatigue, where making another decision is just so much effort. This can be deciding what to do for dinner, deciding what to do for the day or even just choosing between folding the washing now or later. It is amazing how many little decisions we have to make each day as parents.
Sometimes routines are our comfort zones, we know what to expect and when to expect it. This can have a calming effect on our nervous systems and our minds. It takes away the decision making element because we know that we are doing it. We don't need to decide whether to brush our teeth or not, we just do it. This is actually something I learned in a book by Dana K. White called 'How to Mange your home without losing your mind'. In this book Dana K. White wrote about 'just doing the damn dishes'. This is something I hear in my head every time I think about leaving the sink full of dishes. Just do them. I don't know why it helps but not having to make the decision at the end of a long day, and just having it as part of my routine, actually helps!
I think children feel this decision making fatigue a bit too. Usually the day is mapped out to an extent, but with nothing in place and so much they could do, they have no idea what to choose to do! They start getting stressed, dysregulated and don't know what to expect next.
Boredom vs planned
So should we plan out the holidays in its entirety? No. I think routines and plans are great but I also feel there is such value in letting kids be bored. How many great adventures have been created with a cardboard box because of a bored kids imagination? Imagination can thrive when we let our kid be bored away from screens. Ours too!
I don't think you need to plan out your day in a strict schedule to represent the normal school week. I think there can be real joy in slowing down and being bored sometimes and having pyjama days but it has to be intentional. There are ways you can spend the day slowing down that isn't just hoping the kids will think of something to do. I will talk about a few ways we find helpful in a moment.
Living in the 'shoulds'
If you need a day to slow down, not get dressed and just take it easy - own that. Don't spend the whole day thinking I should do this and I should do that, and the kids should be doing this....etc etc
If you live in the 'shoulds'........it's not going to be a restful day. It's going to feel like a day of procrastination and stress. It will feel like you've done nothing but also like you haven't rested.
How can Yoga help with change of routines?
Change of routines can be stressful for the whole family. If we take time to check in with how we are doing and also take time to nurture our nervous system and bring some peace and balance into the body, it can help us in times of stress. We can take intentional time for ourselves, or to be together through Family Yoga.
Yoga can also be a great part of both morning and evening routines. This can be a constant, something that doesn't change because of the holidays. It can be part of your bedtime routines during the school week and on the school break. And I'm not talking about an hour or even half hour. It could be as little as 5 minutes. Having this time with your family can really help in times of stress but also to help build resilience to stress. Having these routines to wake up to and end the day with will help you and your child to navigate whatever the day throws at you.
When is the last time you stopped and took a breath with your child?
If it was recently, think about how that felt. If it has been a while, try it out next time you are putting them to bed. Hold hands, hug or just sit facing each other and just take 3 slow breaths. Try it again, the next night and the next night. It can be this easy to add a little mindfulness into your bedtime.
If you have ever been to my Yoga classes or followed me on social media, you will know that I love working with themes! Themes can be a great way to get imaginative with your time together. Pick a theme for each day or even the week and see what fun you can have based around that theme. You may already have your own such as movie nights on a friday or taco tuesday - those definitely count as a theme!
Here are a few examples:
Mindful Monday - This serves as a great reminder to add some mindfulness into your day and is a great way to start the week.
Kind Tuesday - How can you add more kindness into your day today?
Space Wednesday - Learn about space together, practice space themed Yoga, and make those cool space Angel Delight desserts - yum!
Thurs-Play - A day full of play! This could be playing board games, yoga games, and even adding play into everyday activities like having dinner. You could set up your very own restaurant at home.
Dress up Friday - Can you be superheroes today or maybe a Prince or Princess? Maybe you create your own fun costume? Or let the kids choose your outfit and you have to wear it all day, even if you're going out ;)
What ever your theme you could include games, yoga practices, mindful activities, arts and crafts, walks outside or a day out that ties into the theme (maybe a to a museum or park). You don't have to stick to the theme all day of course it just might inspire some fun ideas from you and the children.
Having themes can help with the structure of your day but still keep some spontaneity. Including Yoga can help with having fun together while calming the nervous system, and including mindfulness can help you all to stay present and check in with how you are each doing emotionally.
Talking of themes!
Something fun is on it's way!!
I will be sharing more details next week!
In this post we have looked at why the holidays can be stressful for the family and looked at some ways we can bring some calm, balance and fun to our days. Quality time together doesn't have to mean spending loads of money, all you need is a bit of imagination and most importantly connection.
What is your biggest struggle when it comes to changes of routine during school breaks?
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