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Family Focus | Adjusting to a 'new normal' in the age of COVID

It's been nearly two years of the pandemic and with this latest surge of cases, children have been through the ringer in terms of routine.

TOLEDO, Ohio — First it was remote learning, then kids were back in the classroom with masks, and then without masks. 

Now some are back to remote learning, but just for a few days at a time. It's tough to keep track. 

"One of the things that we need to focus on for all of our kiddos is routines and structure and predictability," said Amy Allen with Toledo Public Schools. "There are some things that we can't control. So we can't control the outbreaks. We can't control if someone has to quarantine, but we can control the way we run our day with our kids." 

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Allen says that means establishing as much routine as possible. That includes a bedtime routine without screens, even for older kids.

Also establish a morning routine, which could include a discussion of the day's activities. 

"It's important for students to see in writing what the day's going to look like," Allen said.

Child experts also recommend building time into your day to talk with your child. 

"If you're not talking at your children, it means you're having six back and forth turns," Allen said. "You're saying something. Your student is saying something back to you and you're having that interaction."

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To take care of our kids, we have to take care of ourselves. It's been almost two years in this pandemic, so mental health experts say there's officially a new normal. 

Managing that means prioritizing your health. Allow for self-care and be kind to yourself.

"Always remember that we're all going through different journeys and we need to take care of ourselves and our family, and have that compassion," University of Toledo Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. Victoria Kelly said.

Kelly says we'll have to continue to adjust, so now's the time to take stock of what's worked well for you these past two years and inform your family of what may now become more long-term changes.

"Adjusting your work-life schedule, doing something different as a family routine, or putting new boundaries into place," Kelly said.  

Mental health experts say to some extent COVID is here to stay and just like viruses that we have lived with for many years, we can do the same with this. We just might have to be a little flexible.

"What do you need to do to live in reality? Because that's the point of it," Kelly said. "We want to be able to grow and thrive, despite COVID."