As a parent, our most important job is to provide our children with a stable, nurturing environment – one of the best ways to do this, is to create a family routine and stick to it! Now, i know what you’re thinking… Relax!
If course, life with kids, especially little kids, is going to be hectic. There are going to be days that are ‘all kids of crazy’! I know it might seem like trying to throw a ‘rule book’ into the mix is just going to make things worse, but actually, having some kind of routine makes the world of difference!
There are so many benefits to have a family routine. The ‘biggies’, as far as i’m concerned, are the following…
- Children that have routines know what the ‘plans’ are, and are less likely to get into power struggles with their parents. For me, this is great… i hate losing an argument to a toddler! 😉
- Children with routines tend to have more responsibilities, and as a result, tend to feel more self-confident. These children are also more likely to grow up to be confident adults.
- Children learn that responsibilities need to be met before certain other activities can take place – combating the dreaded ‘instant gratification syndrome’ that we see so much of nowadays.
- Routines give children an idea of what is expected from them throughout the course of the day, and creates an opportunity for parents an children to talk about expectations.
- All the little things that need to get done, get done, leaving extra time for the family to spend together doing special things, or just spending quality time together.
In our house, for instance, things can get a little complicated. Little Miss Sara has just started running around (she’s just about 18 months now), and her sister Kayla, is 13. Homework time is fun (making sure we keep important school books out of the Little Lady’s reach has become a full time job for Kayla), and the bedtime routines took a little bit of extra thought – but with a little bit of effort, we’re definitely seeing the results.
Each family has their own kind of crazy, and will need their own kind of routine, but generally the best thing you can do is try to establish a few comfortable, effective routines that achieve a happy, realistic compromise between the chaos and confusion of ‘no rule free-for-all’ and the rigidity and boredom that can come with too much structure.
Here are a few tips for creating easy, FUN routines that the whole family can stick to…
Weekday mornings are usually a flurry of action – everybody trying to do everything as fast as possible, without bumping into someone else, or saying or doing something to upset someone’s feelings… Phew! Wouldn’t it be nice to simplify things just a little? You’d be surprised what a difference these little changes can make…
- Wake up a couple of minutes earlier than the kids – even if it’s only 15 minutes earlier. Go pee without a toddler hanging onto your legs, enjoy a cup of HOT coffee – you’ll feel super energized, and ready to take on anything!
- Get the kids to help lay out school uniforms/outfits and pack school lunches the night before. If they’re old enough, make this one of their chores
- Make sure everyone eats a healthy breakfast – it doesn’t need to be a full cooked breakfast with eggs and bacon, sausages and pancakes to qualify, just something healthy and yummy that the kids are going to eat. Check out these great breakfast cheats for those busy mornings .
- Create your own special ‘goodbye’ ritual – doesn’t matter what it is, be it a wonderful ‘Mom hug’, a high-five or a wave and a smile. There really is nothing better than sending your child off out into their day wrapped in positivity.
Your after school routine is really going to depend on the age of your children. Older kids are going to have a heavier work and study load, while younger children may require a nap (yeah right, i know! Try telling them that! 😉 ) Here are a few things to keep in mind…
- If possible, try and have the http://brightnbrainy.com/2016/09/03/10-healthy-and-tasty-after-school-snacks/ ready before the kids get home. If you work, look for easy snack recipes, that are quick to prep, and can be stored in the fridge for a day or two. A hungry kid is a grumpy kid, no matter what their age!
- Agree on what the expectations are and make it nice and clear, and easy for everyone to remember. A good way to do this is to draw out a chart or routine. Here is a free printable routine (great to laminate and re-use|) that i just put together… i even included ‘drink your medicine’ and ‘go to the hairdresser’ for those times when the kids need a little extra motivation!… Download your free copy here now!!
- Set up a dedicated homework area – a desk, the kitchen table (perhaps with a dedicated kitchen drawer for school books or supplies) or a corner in a family room – where you can keep an eye on your kids. This way, you can help when help is needed, and your child is not tempted to start doing something else before they’re finished their school work.
- Have some dedicated free ‘time-time’ – chase the kids outside, weather allowing, or do some crafts. It’s easy to forget how stressful growing up can be… kids need time to decompress.
Evening routines should ideally be relaxed and stress-free. Yeah right! Just do your best!
- Go for easy, quick meals during the week – i remember some of my favorite evenings growing up being ‘flapjack night’. Flapjacks are a South African version of american breakfast, that we eat at any time of the day. My mom (Best Mom in the World, by the way) used to make a huge plate of them, grate a block of cheese, add a plate of ham and a bottle of Bovril (all the Brits will know what i’m taking about 🙂 ) and we just sat and chatted, and pilled cheese on, and it was great! Easy, and great!
- Try to fit bath time in every day – yes, i know… there are all those people that say kids don’t need to bath everyday – maybe they don’t. I think they do. I think they need a daily bath even more than adults! (all that playing, out in the dirt!) Apart from that, water, and ‘bath time’, is just very soothing. It relaxes a child and makes it easier for them to calm down and prepare themselves for bed.
Bedtime is my favorite routine – i love the little snuggles, and the one on one time i get with each of my kids. Try make bedtime routines ‘a little special’…
- If your little one is still very little, maybe find a song or a rhyme to make the bedtime ‘chores’ like face washing and teeth brushing a little it more fun.
- Read a bedtime story together, if your child is little, or sit and chat chat for a few extra minutes if your child is a little older. The individual time means so much.
- Create a itual, especially with younger kids, to help them understand that it’s bedtime. Little miss Sara has a couple of poster of Peppa pig and Ben and Holly in her bedroom, and we make a point of saying goodnight to them everynight before she gets into bed. It creates a sense of familiarity and security, and helps her to fall asleep easier.
Weekends are your extra time – don’t waste it! Yes of course, there are chores and school assignments that have to be done, but weekends should be about relaxing, and enjoying time as a family – with the odd ‘break from the family thrown in for sanity’s sake 😉 .
- Try to dedicate at least on day of the weekend to family time – i know with teenager this is difficult. Beg, Barter, Blackmail – whatever works for you!
- Sleep in late (even 20 minutes later than normal counts) – if you can handle it, let the ‘littles’ stay up an extra hour on Fiday and Saturday (and maybe invest in some blackout blinds for the weekends?) – i promise, you’re going to be happy you did in the morning.
- Treat yourself – go all out o the cooking, at least once. Make a great breakfast, or cook a killer lunch – the whole week has been about quick and easy… i’m sure by now you’re also in the mood for something a little complicated.
- Relax – schedule in an hour of quiet time for the kids, and pamper yourself a little. Do a face mask , watch some Netflix or just sit and read a magazine… go on… you deserve it!
A routine doesn’t need to be a scary thing – go on – give it a try!
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