Why Teens Need A Routine
By Joey & Carla Link
March 11, 2020
After reading last week’s blog on routine written primarily for young children, a friend, a mother of 4 primarily college age kids had this to say, “Everyone needs routine! Even when the young adults are home, everything runs more peacefullywhen we all have some level of routine – meals at predictable times, reasonable bedtimes, planned activities/physical activities, and so forth.“
I (Carla) told her I couldn’t agree more and was planning on writing about this in today’s blog. This is our story. Our daughter Briana missed too many days of school each year because of simple colds or other bugs she came home with. Often these illnesses landed her in the hospital due to chronic respiratory issues. When she was in 4th grade, her doctor asked us to pull her out of school and homeschool her. Homeschooling was a fledging school option at that time, and where we live they encouraged homeschoolers to have a certified teacher to oversee your homeschooling. I was all for this as I felt totally unprepared for this task.
Our teacher strongly encouraged us to keep on the same daily schedule as the school was on and helped me set up weekly lesson plans accordingly. Our days ended sooner than the school’s as we didn’t have recesses or some of their other activities, so with the teacher’s advice the last period of our school day was study hall.
Briana made it through the school year with no hospitalizations, so the next year we pulled her sister home with her and homeschooling became our way of life. I did lesson plans by the quarter, with the girls’ assisting me when they were in middle school. By the time they entered high school, they were doing their own lesson plans with my oversight.
When Briana went away to college, she was teased by the other girls in her dorm because she scheduled a study hall time every day in the library from the time classes started to the end of each semester. She’d always had a study hall at home and saw the value in it, so she decided to keep it in her routine at college.
While we were homeschooling, we started to travel more with the parenting ministry Growing Families Int’l and our kids traveled with us. I had each of them work on a routine they would follow in the car. They had to agree on the times they would do things collectively and individually. When we were home whether it was school season or summer break, they would write out their schedules each week and post them so all could see where they would be at any time. We don’t know how a family works in harmony without routine.
So, how would you work on getting your family of older kids on a routine? They are probably already on one. The key is to get each person’s routine to blend with all the others.
- For kids 11 and up, show them how to work on scheduling a routine that includes all things (including free time) they will have from the time they wake in the morning until the time they go to bed. There is a lot less tension in the morning when all your older kids know what times their siblings will be in the bathroom and for how long
- Let your pre-teens and teens try out the routine they come up with. They will stick to it if it is their own idea. If it doesn’t work, then sit down with them the next week or mid-week and figure out how to fix the problem areas. If more than one sibling is involved and they can’t come to agreement on areas their routines overlap, sit them down and act as their arbitrator.
- If there is a chronic offender among the siblings, you need to take him/her aside and deal with it. One of our daughters was always late getting out of the bathroom in the morning so the other was always running late. This was not her sister’s problem to deal with, it was ours.
- Always have “non-negotiable” events blocked out on the family monthly calendar. One of ours was church. They all worked, but not on Sunday morning. Friday nights were family nights, another “not to be missed” activity and so on.
Being on a routine throughout their life will help them manage their time when they are on their own.