Confinement? Have no fear!

Parents are overwhelmingly responsible for keeping children happy during a period of confinement. Our expert explains why it’s vital to create a timeline to ensure everyday life is a joy and not a grind.

The thought of a new routine at home may well cause anxiety, and with good reason. Especially when it involves keeping children at home for weeks at a time without notice! Not to mention whilst juggling remote working, with or without the help of a spouse or partner. Happily, when your child was born, a godmother with magical powers leaned over the cradle: the Routine Fairy. Now is the perfect time to let her inspire you and benefit from her wisdom.

Parenting and learning strategy coach Anne Nagy talks about having a routine and drawing up a timeline based on her 20 years’ experience in childcare management. Exceptional times mean extraordinary benefits.

With the benefit of your extensive experience, tell us why a routine is key for children.

All children benefit from a routine, but among the very youngest, there are two age categories with specific needs.

From 0 to 18 months:

At this age, a routine is about meeting the child’s basic needs – food and sleep. With a routine, very young children understand through experience how activities and rituals (e.g. bathing or singing before bedtime) occur.

From around 18 months to 4 years:

A routine makes your child feel secure. Perhaps your child is feeling anxious? Especially since his or her usual rhythm has been disrupted. However, this period of confinement represents an invaluable opportunity. Games, laughter, cuddles and even naps allow your child to get his or her “fill” of parental interaction, which is crucial for healthy development. Children benefit hugely from this!

There’s a secret to this – but it’s not without challenge! You must put your child’s needs before your own and you must separate work and family life. This also includes moderate phone use in your child’s presence.

What is a timeline?

Our daycare manager – also a mother of two, with a grandmother on hand to help with this arduous task – recommends creating a timeline. This will set out what a typical day looks like for your family and help you establish a daily routine.

How to create a timeline in three easy steps:

Show what a typical day of confinement (or semi-confinement) looks like with a timeline. There are lots of ways to create a timeline with your child, including on paper, cardboard, a blackboard or even on textiles!

Add pictures, photos, drawings or objects to illustrate the different times of day.

Print a photo of your child. As you go through the day’s activities, move the photo of your child along this line.

The basic rules of a timeline

  • Create a timeline based on the needs of your own family, by sitting down and discussing it properly.
  • Indicate which adult will be available for the child at what time. This will help you clearly delineate working hours and family time. It will also make it easier for your child to understand whether or not you are available.
  • To ensure confinement does not become exhausting, especially if you work early in the morning or late at night, consider adding rest periods during the child’s nap times or by including an activity that the child can do alone.
  • Explain the timeline in simple words. Help your child preserve a bond with the other children at the daycare centre by imagining what they’re doing in their homes!
  • Use a time-keeper to mark out activity times, e.g. an hourglass, oven timer or even an alarm clock app on a phone. This will save you having to constantly act like a speaking clock.

And above all, keep in mind that the purpose of the timeline is not to restrict your daily life, but to ensure that it proceeds serenely and smoothly, nourishing your child during this special period of quality time. Now it’s your turn!