Want to start the school year with easy routines instead of chaos?
Proactively setting routines will get everyone out the door calmly in the morning, get homework done without battles in the afternoon, and ease into bedtime at night.
Getting to the bus on time can be a nightmare! By the time the kids are off and you get into your day, you may already feel exhausted and frustrated.
Adding this to the fact that you only have a few hours to recharge before the homework battle starts and then the bedtime battle a few hours later, and you’ll find yourself wishing for summer again!
Does this sound familiar?
Routines don’t have to be hard. They can be easy! Things can change!
Follow these 5 practical tips to set solid (and easy) school routines that help children feel calm so that you enjoy the structure of school-days rather than fighting against it.
Routine Tip #1: Map daily routines in a family meeting (Mad2Glad Pillar #4).
A family meeting provides a calm time to build a routine together. Including your children helps build buy in for the activities.
Map out no more than 5-8 steps/expectations. Identify reward activities and consequences.
Collaboratively create a poster (with pictures if the children are under age 7). Checklists also work since children (and many parents) love to check the boxes!
The steps can be simple such as: get up at 7am, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, prepare snack/lunch, pack backpack, put on shoes/jackets, feed dog, etc
For additional motivation identify a reward when the routine is done consistently for a week.
Fun rewards include special time with a parent or grandparent (as little as 10 minutes works), extra massage time before bed, doing your child’s favorite activity at home, and reading an extra book before bed.
Routine Tip #2: Rehearse the steps of your new routine.
Rehearsing helps create a map in the brain for new behavior.
Go through the routine step by step with your children for a few days.
On the 3rd day encourage your child to do it alone by acknowledging their progress and noting that you trust them to do it on their own.
Say “You have done such a great job with the routine the past few days, I trust you to do it on your own today.”
Encourage your child throughout the week and use heartfelt appreciation when the steps are done right or the routine is complete. (Mad2Glad Pillar #2)
Routine Tip #3: Prep your child’s mind and body before doing homework.
Prep the body and mind by allowing for playtime after school before doing homework. This break from focusing allows a child’s mind to regenerate.
Encourage your child to do something physical to release pent up energy. It is a great opportunity for you to play together to build connection, even if it’s only 15 minutes!
Prep the mind by providing a nutritious high protein snack. Stay away from sugar as that will amp up a child, decreasing ability to focus on homework.
Help them identify and use their strengths to complete the homework. Acknowledge their effort when they try!
Be patient when they struggle. Say, “When you follow our routine I feel impressed because you are being so responsible.”
Routine Tip #4: Avoid screen time before school or 2 hours before bed.
The fast flicker of screens stimulates the brain and release stress related chemicals into the bloodstream making it harder to transition to a slower pace. (Mad2Glad Pillar #1, Hidden Landmines.)
Avoiding stimulation before bed, before homework begins, and even before your child leaves for school helps assure your child is in a calm place to transition to the next part of the routine.
Routine Tip #5: Create a positive sleep environment
Ensure all electronics are out of the room as use will stimulate your child’s brain. Allow relaxing music or nature sounds to help your child relax.
Read to your children before bed. Even older children enjoy snuggling with their parents while having a good book read to them.
Try mood lighting.
For younger children, remove any fear the child may have of the dark or monsters in the closet. Talk through any fears they may have. Help them pick out items that help them feel safe (i.e. favorite toy, a blanket).
Massage is also a great way to promote relaxation. Even just a few minutes can help your child start to wind down.
Following these tips can help your family start and end your school day calmly. Who doesn’t want that?
We would love to hear from you now…
…What works in your home for helping your child get out the door smoothly?
Please share a comment below.
This guest article comes from Certified Mad2Glad Parent Coach, Suz Roemer Feely, who is a mother of 3 children: 2 gifted sons, ages 10 and 11, and a dynamic daughter, age 7. Suz and her husband work hard to create calm in their family and have found more calm AND deeper, more robust relationships with their children over the past few years. They enjoy summers at the cabin with extended family, Spring Break road trips, reading together and lots of sports activities.