In part 1, we introduced steps for creating consistency. The Pandemic has disrupted our routines. As areas are beginning to come out of the COVID shutdowns, it is important to remember that consistency is a necessity for parenting sur-thrival at all times. As your routine adapts, yet again, to return to in-person school or work, you may need to revisit part 1. This will allow you to update the process and create a refreshed plan which incorporates the newly added outings or activities.
If you haven’t had a chance to review Part 1, check it out here.
In Part 2, you will take those House Rules, Expectations, and Goals to create a Daily Routine.
Step 2: DAILY ROUTINE:
Here you take the goals, expectations, and house rules to put together a daily routine. This doesn’t have to be Pinterest-worthy pictograms filled with cute file folder projects every 5 minutes. Nope. This is about sur-thrival. We want you to have enough planned consistency that you can survive the challenging moments and help your child thrive in the calm moments.
Plan for engaged time blocks:
Engaged time with you, another adult, a sibling, etc. Realistically what is your child’s attention span? Don’t plan non-preferred tasks for a longer duration than this amount of time (seriously, it is NOT worth it!) If his attention span is 3 minutes, work in 2-minute time slots alternated with break times. Read a page- let him have a break- do a short puzzle (or part of one)- let him have a break. Over time, you can teach him to engage in the activity for longer and longer. (Think about interrupting “attending behavior” with reinforcement– more information about this can be found in our terminology mini-course). You can alternate engaged time with break time during the “engaged time blocks”.
Plan for outings/exercise:
Consider how to get out of the house. This can be as simple as going for a walk, take a drive, play in the backyard, etc. Anything to keep you and the kids from having too much pent-up energy. On cold or rainy days, think about ways to get that energy out while inside. A small exercise trampoline is a favorite in our Autism Center; so is a bounce-on-ball with a handle (just watch out with the placement of these activities, stay away from table corners to protect little heads from ‘bonks’ if they fall). There are also exercise apps/You Tube videos to try (Go Noodle, yoga videos…).
How much screen time is too much screen time for your family? What is the reality of limiting screen time in your current life? This is a family decision, no one can tell you what is too much for your child (Though, here is a handy screen time plan for parents wanting a more guided approach). If you have a child with Autism, consider having them watch DVDs or T.V. shows rather than having a handheld device that they are able to scroll to preferred parts and watch clips repetitively. Surprisingly the simple requirement to watch a full video vs. clips helps reinforce patience and flexibility.
Plan for healthy sleep:
What do your family’s sleep routines look like? Setting a consistent a realistic routine can encourage healthy sleep for all of you. Some healthy sleep daytime habits include:
Exercise at least every other day and at least 4 hours prior to going to bed
Avoid caffeinated drinks and food after at least 6 hours prior to scheduled bedtime
If over 4 years of age, avoid napping, especially after 3 pm (if napping does occur, put your little one to bed later by the length of the nap)
Ensure the child’s bed is for sleeping only (not a place to play or socialize)
Provide early exposure to bright lights and activity
Maintain consistent wake time
Avoid blue light exposure at least 1 hour prior to bedtime
Incorporate your defined goals: When and where do you want (realistically) to have meals/snack each day?
Consider commitments: Are you doing virtual school? In-person? Home-school? What are the meeting times/schedules?