How to Create Healthy Routines for Teens During the Age of Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our norms. With schools closed and families at home together, days can be long or short pegged on so many factors.

 It is not surprising that your teens are beyond bored, what with the social distancing advisory that sees to it that they remain in the house with limited activities at their disposal.

It may seem okay to let your adolescent stay up late, sleep in and deal with the day’s schoolwork when they get around to it. The last thing you want is a battle of wills right?

But routines are worth fighting for. They will help teens establish some predictability and a sense of control.

When everything else feels totally out of hand, that’s a big deal. 

Here’s how you can help your teen map out a schedule that works for your family. 

Create a daily schedule

Your teenagers are well on their way to becoming young adults. Giving them a chance to design their schedule will be a valuable practice

Allow them to take the lead and focus on the vital issues like schoolwork, exercises, chores and sleep.

Your role would be to make sure the schedule allows for things to be done every day. 

 Seek to have things done at roughly the same time each day. That doesn’t mean your teen has to be up by6 a.m. just because they used to when school was open. But try to stick to a (mostly) regular bedtime, wake time and learning schedule.

Take a break

Living through a global pandemic is frustrating, to say the least. To focus on classwork, teens should plan a stretch of uninterrupted time they can devote to schoolwork.

Still, we all need a minute to clear our heads. Plan breaks into the school day for your teen to connect with friends or do something creative, like drawing or listening to music.

Plan to work for a set amount of time, say 45 minutes, then take a scheduled 15-minute break. This can really help teens who are struggling with procrastination.

Healthy routines are flexible

While routines are reassuring, some flexibility is okay. Say your child plans to focus on English mid-day but discovers all her friends are getting together for a video chat during lunch hour.

Or maybe you agree on no texting until after “school,” but your son is stumped by his chemistry homework and wants to reach out to a friend for help. 

Never stick to a schedule that isn’t working

Tweak the schedule until you settle on something that works. There are things that have to get done, but you can be a little flexible on the specific timing as long as they meet their goals.

Teen sleep tips

Many teens are natural night owls. But at any age, sleep is essential for physical and mental health, so make sure your young adult is getting sufficient shut-eye. 

These habits can help kids get the sleep they need:

  • Consistency: Stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time. (Most teens need 8 to 10 hours per night.)
  • Bye-phone: No electronics before bed. If your teen must use a gadget in the evening, try an app that filters out blue light, which can be stimulating.
  • Wind down: Before bed, try a quiet activity like reading. 
  • See the light: Try to get natural light in the morning. Go for a walk or eat breakfast near a sunny window.
  • Move it: Get regular exercise.
  • Don’t nap: Avoid naps longer than 45 minutes or after 5 p.m.
  • Use your bed for sleeping: Set out another area to do schoolwork or lounge around during the day. (This helps your brain remember that bed = sleep.)
  • Breathe in, breathe out: Use relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep. People old and young are feeling extra stress and anxiety right now. To calm a racing mind, try tools like deep breathing, mindfulness apps or progressively squeezing and releasing your muscles, starting at your toes and working to your head.

How to handle limit-testing teens

Routines look great on paper. But what if you’re getting pushback from your moody teens as you try to maintain a normal routine? 

In some ways, that pushback is a good thing — a dose of normalcy in the midst of a totally abnormal situation. 

That doesn’t mean you have to brace for daily fights. Pick your battles: Set clear expectations about what’s not OK — sneaking out, lying to you — and decide together, in advance, what the consequences will be for breaking those rules.

Have it in mind that these are weird times, and teens — like the rest of us — are doing their best. Try to focus on the positives, and remind yourself not to expect perfection.

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