Most of us parents are struggling with getting our children back into their routine.
Most of us parents are struggling with getting our children back into their routine. The Christmas break made for later bedtimes, looser meal times and a general laissez-faire atmosphere.
But routine brings in the structure that your kids are needing right now. Even if your child can tell time, he won't always order his day by hours and minutes.
Rather, to a child, life is a series of events. And when those events are predictable and routine, your children develop a healthy sense of structure.
That structure helps them feel safe, which means they're happier, more cooperative, and less inclined to fight.
Here's how to get your little ones back into a routine after the Christmas holidays.
Start with bedtime
We all know our kids don't function well if they're not getting enough sleep. With after school activities restarting after the Christmas break, your bedtime routines may be getting pushed back a bit. Take control of that now, and enforce a strict bedtime. The routine itself doesn't have to be strict, however. But, the time should.
Figure out the best wake up time
With enough sleep under their belts, your kids will be able to wake up with plenty of time to get everything done in the mornings. Add up all their morning tasks, estimate how much time they each take, and then add an extra five-minute cushion. Now, using that time, count backward from the time they need to be walking out the door. That's the time they should be waking up each day.
Schedule your afternoons
Do the same thing for your afternoons. Schedule in homework, activities, and chores, always allowing for wiggle room and downtime. Set a clear order of tasks, so your children always know what they should be doing at any given time.
Recheck their eating habits
Have you slacked off on allowing snacking between meals? Have there been more treats in the last two week than the entire year combined? Don’t worry, the hardest part is the first step. Dust off that slow cooker, pressure cooker, and your favourite recipes…get back into the habit of simple healthy meals.
Keep fresh fruit on hand for kids to snack out throughout the day, letting sweets be an occasional treat rather than the norm. Create a space in the fridge for healthy snacks for the kids (and yourself) to grab. Planning ahead of time will save you a lot of headaches and rumbling stomachs later on, especially during that all too common witching hour!
- Make plenty of healthy choices available to kids.
- Make a meal plan if you are not already doing so.
- Reorganize pantry and fridge for meal times and snacks.
Give them some responsibility
Responsibility varies depending on many factors, including age and maturity level, but routines are a perfect place to give your kids a taste of real-world responsibility while still under your guidance. Most kids won't fight you on this; in fact, they'll likely welcome the chance to do something independently. Determine how much your child can responsibly handle on her own, and turn it over to them. Set clear expectations, and make it easier by giving them a chart or checklist to stay on track.
Don’t give up
Something always comes up to throw the schedule out of whack. Roll with it, and jump back into your routine as soon as you can.
Laura Doyle, mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Writer and blogger at www.lovelifeandlittleones.com.