As much as kids may resist structure at times, routines really are good for kids. Routine helps kids predict what will happen next and helps them feel safe because they know what to expect. And the order will help you keep your sanity intact too.
There’s no way that our lives could function without a consistent routine. Although the kids sometimes complain when bed time comes around, especially my little boy, the consistency helps them thrive. My kids know what to expect and when to expect it, which creates a sense of stability in our home. I’m a strong advocate of structure for families. So, if you’re looking for some tips to add some order in your home, here’s what I recommend.
There’s nothing worse than oversleeping or rushing to get the kids out the door in the mornings. This leads to cranky kids and frustrated grownups. No one wants to start the day like this. So here are a few tips to create a great morning routine:
- Establish your family’s daily wakeup time and stick to it. You decide whether you will wake up the kids or if they’ll use an alarm clock. But whatever method you choose, make sure the family is up on time each day.
- Have a breakfast menu prepared in advanced. Make sure breakfast items are quick and easy but also healthy. Save the pancakes for the weekend when things are a little less hectic.
- When breakfast is over, send the kids to do their morning grooming and to get dressed. You’ll probably need to use some verbal prompts or even give assistance to the younger kids.
- If possible, try to get your kids up early enough to get in a few minutes of quality time. Many of my friends pray in the mornings or just chat for a few minutes before the school bus arrives. This is a great way to get your kids’ day started good. And don’t forget the warm kiss and hug as they leave out the door or when you drop them off at day care.
Now, just like morning routines are essential, so are evening routines. Here are a few tips to help develop a great evening routine:
- Figure out a bedtime for your kids and stick to it. The bedtimes may be different for children of different ages, just make sure it’s consistent and that your kids get enough rest.
- Make sure that you give a verbal prompt to the kids one hour before bedtime. This is when they should get started with their evening hygiene activities.
- Half an hour before bed should be family time. Your family might want to have some sort of bonding activity – even if it’s just chatting for a few minutes. You want this to be pretty low key because it’s more difficult to get excitable kids to go to bed. Also, if you're watching television, be sure the program is scheduled to go to off at the time that the kids need to be in bed. Good luck trying to get your kids to adhere to their bedtime if the program that you’ve been watching doesn’t go off until an hour after their bedtime.
- Make sure that clothes are out and everything is ready for the morning before you go to bed. This makes the morning much less stressful. If the kids are old enough, they can help with this too. Just make sure you put it in the routine – say right after hygiene and before family time. This will totally make your life less chaotic.
Routines are very important for parents and children. And you don’t have to limit yourself to just morning and evening routines. You can also create an after-school routine, a dinner time routine, special weekend routines – create as many routines as you need. I’m not saying to over schedule and kill spontaneity, but I am saying that routine helps things run MUCH smoother!