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Making Constant Change Part of Our New Routine

Jay M. Greenfeld, Ph.D., C.Psych.

Changing routines is one of the hardest things for many people to do, regardless of their age. We have become creatures of habit and we feed off it as we grow up. We start grade school on a rigid schedule of opening bell rings at 830am, recess is midmorning, lunch around noon, afternoon recesses, followed by the end of the school day. Realistically though, it starts even earlier as infants and toddlers establish the importance of routine from the moment they are able to communicate. I see it in my youngest child who has yet to have his first tooth poke through yet, but he feeds off of the morning routine and much of his mood is based on that consistency. As we age into adulthood, the foundation of routine has already been set for us. Unfortunately, over the last two plus years, that routine has changed too many times, yet if there is any silver lining from a pandemic, it is that we as humans, parents and children alike have needed to adjust to changes in routine. The frequent adjustments (for most) can result in either a significantly high degree of Anxiety or the strength from overcoming the growth edges that emerge with change.

Despite the difficulties that many of us have with changing our routines, the change is often necessary to help us grow. If we do not change our routines, most of life become stagnant and we are not igniting additional endorphins that emerge when routine changes and physiological spikes emerge. We are depriving ourselves of the excitement that comes with change, even if it is uncomfortable at first. Moreover, the frequent changes that we have needed to adjust to frighten a lot of people because they have never had to make such significant adjustments and as often as we have needed to. Although the frequent changes have led to significant spikes in Anxiety and at times Depression for many folks, it has also led many of the children to avoid the changes and instead isolate themselves from others.

The key moving forward here for both us as parents and more so our children, is to accept that although the province has modified and lightened many of the restrictions and mask mandates, we are not out of the woods from this pandemic. The virus and accompanying variants are still out there, are still spreading, and still impacting us as a society. So, we need not take things too lightly, but we do need to accept that more changes will likely be coming and that means so will your need to modify your routines-again.

The next phase of changing our routines as restrictions are eased (for now), is to recognize the importance for our children to re-engage socially. They have been limited with contact for over two years and that also meant limited activities, playdates, learning and using basic social skills, and most importantly confronting their own anxieties about trying new experiences. Coordinate, initiate, and facilitate these interactions for and with your children. If they become less and less of a priority for you, it will be an even greater struggle for your children as they get older. Moreover, based on the direction and trend of our society, too many avenues are eliminating the need to have social interaction to reach a desired outcome. Technology has accelerated our lives, but slowed our face-to-face socializing.

Although it will continue to be harder to adjust to constant change of routine, it is equally as important to accept that changing our patterns does not necessarily mean it has to be bad. Changing what you are used to will be difficult, but just because something is hard to do, that does not mean it is not worth it. Thus, encouraging your children to adjust to new routines, even with lighter restrictions is going to be important. Our children need to learn that becoming too rigid and stuck in our habitual patterns will decrease their flexibility in life as they age, further complicating many social interactions if they are too inflexible in their ways. Of course, many of us know that there are certain personality types that thrive off of routine and tend to be predictable in nature. However, if you are going to equip your children with any life skill from this pandemic, it will be important to start with increasing their flexibility in their thinking, their actions, and their way of resolving conflicts to help maximize their mental health and decrease the negative effects of stress.

Start off the spring and (eventual summer) with taking on a different approach to what you would normally do with your families. We have been limited for so long because of the pandemic, start to take advantage of doing things differently for yourselves and our family. Ensure, that your family is getting the necessary number of hours of sleep each night and eating three meals per day, after that, set up some form of random adventure every week or every two weeks. they have enough potential structure in their day as you may have with work, create that spark for your family in the life and potential energizing moments outside of the structure priorities we do not have much control over changing. At the very least, make a plan to do something different that you have never done once a month and make the idea of spontaneity part of the new routine in your households.


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The Importance of Sleep and How Sleep Training can Help

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Making Constant Change Part of Our New Routine

Top Safety Tips for a Safe Laundry Room and Kitchen


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