One of the things you've probably run into (assuming you've listened to and tried to implement strategies in this past Sunday's podcast) is that it can seem difficult to WANT to create structure. It feels "too boxed in". You worry that your kids will be bored and rebel against the schedules even if they've participated in creating them. You've had the freedom when kids were home on evenings and weekends to not have the structure or any of the limits that it imposes. So why bother?
Well, if we want to help kids deal with anxiety, we'll need to look at this strategy more closely.
Think of the last suspenseful movie you watched. Do you remember the thrill of being on the edge of your seat waiting expectantly for the next dramatic scene to unfold? If you think back, beyond the music which generated a sense of tension (think of that shower scene in Psycho! or the music from Jaws), it's the not knowing what will happen next, but feeling compelled to try to imagine it ahead of time. If you're like me, you cover your eyes in anticipation!
You see, one of the things that creates tension - which we call anxiety when it's about our own lives and not something on a movie - is not knowing what's going to happen next.
Schedules, while they might be work to set up and generate some friction when we try to implement them, increase the sense of predictability. This means we know exactly what's going to happen next.
It's like watching a suspenseful movie sitting beside someone who's seen it before and ruins the 'tension' by loudly announcing what's going to happen. You know the kind! They're the ones no one wants to watch a movie with. At the theatre, having no surprise is boring. Living day to day with only "surprises" is stressful. Anxiety provoking. Uncomfortable.
And when we're stressed, anxious and uncomfortable, we don't do our best.
What do you think? Have I convinced you yet that setting up a schedule is an anxiety prevention measure that's worth implementing in your daily life during the pandemic?
I'm Judith Pinto, a child development specialist, mental health clinician and parent educator. I am also the child of an anxious parent...and a parent of an anxious child. Heck! I'm probably a little anxious too!