Some moms never see the need for a routine. Others, who use the eat, wake, sleep cycle with their babies tend to let routine
go when their children become toddlers and as a result, things soon get out of control. We encourage you to keep a routine part of your children’s day. Why?
Do your children get along with each other? Do you feel like you have been hit by a truck by the end of each day? Do you feel trapped being home with your kids? Are you getting meals planned and prepared on time or do you find yourself ordering out more and more? Do you tell your children you will get to it later only to deal with unhappy kids when “later” never comes? Is there never time to indulge yourself?
There are great benefits to having a routine. Routines give kids predictability which gives them stability and security. Elaine St. James, author of the book Simplify Your Life with Kids has this to say,
“Kids who live without structure and routine can develop behavior problems. Frequent tantrums, whining, a disregard for rules, inappropriate or aggressive behavior, constant demands, and an inability to share are some of the signs that your child needs more structure.”
Frequent tantrums, whining, lack of obedience, demanding. Are any of these frequent residents in your home? Bottom line – Children feel secure when they know what to expect.
Parents who are more laid back don’t like to be held to a routine. I was like that. When I was challenged to try it for one month, I could not believe the difference in our home and kids. I learned there is freedom within the routine and kids seem to get that more than their parents do. The family’s day moves to a more relaxed pace because you are not constantly breaking up squabbles, trying to find ways to entertain bored, whiny kids.
The following are some suggestions for putting a routine in place in your home.
1. Keep Bedtime Consistent
* Look at your schedule each week.
* Write in what time you think your kids can get to bed each night.
* If you are going to be out at night with the kids more than 2 nights a week, on the nights you are home put them to bed ½ hour early.
* Kids need 10-12 hours of sleep a night
2. Keep Naps Consistent
* Young children will not nap well in a car seat or stroller. Don’t get into the habit of being away from home during their naptime.
* Kids are somewhat different in their sleep needs but a rule of thumb says all kids 3 yrs. and under should nap or at least rest in bed every day.
* If you have several late nights in a given week, schedule a 1 hour rest time for all children on the days you are home.
3. Keep Meals at a Consistent Time
* When you get your kids sleep, eat and wake times on a consistent rhythm, your children’s body will work in harmony with it.
* We have an epidemic of overweight kids in America. This is due in a large part to kids who eat all day in the name of snacking. Kids do not need to snack all day long. It is better for them to fill up on water in-between meals than food.
* Another reason kids are overweight is because they live on a diet of fast food. Feed your kids nutritious meals at home. If you don’t know how to cook, learn to. There is plenty of information online to assist you with this.
4. Plan Your Children’s Day in ½ Hour Segments
* Make a list of all the things all the children can do together.
* Make a list of activities each child likes to do on their own.
* Break up their time together. If they have ½ hour to play together, the next ½ hour have them play separately. Sometimes you choose what they do during a segment and sometimes you allow them to choose. We added a sample routine below.
Once you have the routine planned, you can make changes
on any given day when the need arises.
Michael (9 years) Briana (6 years) Amy (3 years)
7:00 am: Get up, dress and do morning chores
8:00 am: Breakfast and cleanup
(If they are done early, they can pick a book to look at – have a basket of books available)
9:00 am: Bible time around kitchen table.
9:30 am: Play alone in bedrooms; Amy on blanket in my bedroom (The girls share a room so they need to be separated)
10:00 am: Play together outside w/ my supervision
11:00 am: Everyone has household chores. Amy plays with puzzles at kitchen table when she finishes the job I give her.
11:30 am: Children have book time in assigned places and I make lunch
12:00 pm: Lunch and clean-up
12:45 pm: Naps and Rest Time
1:30 pm: Free play time
2:30 pm: Water and a piece of fruit for everyone.
3:00 pm: Play a game/activity together outside or inside
3:30 pm: Everyone plays alone inside. I pick an activity for each child.
4:00 pm: Partner different children up to play together Michael & Bri, Amy alone. I pick the activity.
4:30 pm: Switch kids around to play together, Bri & Amy, Michael alone.
5:00 pm: All children read or look at books, do puzzles or have computer time. Dad comes home and has time with Amy on T/TH, Briana on M/W and together on Friday.
5:30 pm: Children help set table (a different child each week) while I finish supper preparations. The other children watch a DVD.
6:00 pm: Dinner and cleanup
7:00 pm: Amy and Bri get baths, Michael has time with Dad
7:30 pm: Amy to bed, Dad/I read a short story and prays with her
8:00 pm: Bri to bed with story and prayer
8:30 pm: Michael to bed with a short talking time and prayer with Dad
A timer is your best friend. Set the timer or have the kids set one for when they move on to the next activity.