By: Christine Cox, Choosy Kids Contributor
Maybe your children are already back to school, or they will be heading back in a couple of weeks. It can be a happy and exciting time, but also a stressful time for both children and parents. Even though my daughter is only going to pre-school, I have to get us back into a school routine to make sure she gets everything done prior to leaving for school and is happy when we get there. The summer time really got us off our regular routine so it is time to hop back on board the school routine train!
Routine is Important for Any Age
No matter what age your children are, developing a daily routine can help keep their life organized and help eliminate chaos from yours. Children like routines that are predictable, regular and consistent. And since young children don’t understand time in minutes and hours, it is better to have a routine in place so they understand what event happens next.
Routines can also help children during difficult times of the day like when they first wake up in the morning, nap time, or bedtime. When children know what to expect when they wake up, there will be less arguments and they will learn to complete tasks before they can start other plans for the day.
And same with nap time and bedtime. By doing the bedtime routine prior to sleeping, they will feel more comfortable and prepared to calm their bodies and mind for sleep.
Implement a Routine
It is never too late to implement a routine, especially if a big life event is about to happen for the child – like going to school. No matter if this is your child’s first year going or their 12th, going from summer time to school time can be a hard transition. Implement a routine that you can keep on track with year-round (this is where I need to improve). Here are some easy routines that children can follow every day, regardless if they are going to school or not, to help with their day.
When your child wakes up in the morning, make it a routine to go to the bathroom first and use the toilet. Wash their hands next and brush their teeth while they are still at the sink. When they are finished with their teeth, have them move on to face washing and brushing their hair.
Don’t let them hangout all morning in their pajamas. After they are finished in the bathroom, have them change into their clothes for the day. When you get them changing out of their pajamas and into other clothes, it is a trigger action to confirm that their day is starting.
Many children wake up very hungry. 8-10 hours of sleep is a long time without eating for anyone, especially a young child. Have them eat a nutritious breakfast right after the bathroom routine.
At this point, children might be ready to be on their way to school. If your child is still in pre-school or a half day school program and starts in the afternoon, now might be a good time to encourage free play or do something fun together.
When your child gets home from school, have a routine in place to make the transition from school environment to home environment easier. If that means putting their backpacks in a certain place and going over paperwork together on the couch then do that. Maybe it is finding a healthy snack and going on a walk outside together. Whatever it is, ease the transition because school can be very stressful for children of any age.
And finally, the bedtime routine, which can be the hardest of all. Children are busy little people. Getting them to calm down and relax their mind and bodies after a long day can be so hard. Start bath time at the same time every evening. After the bath is over, implement a routine: pajamas, teeth, book, then bed for example. Or if your children are movers like mine, bed time yoga is fabulous! You could also go over what will happen tomorrow in your routine so that your child knows what the plan is.
I hope that this school year is wonderful for your children and you, the parent. This time goes so fast so it is important that we make the best of it!