Easing Your Kids into a Routine

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

With school in full swing, it may feel like an uphill battle to get kids back into a regular routine after their care-free summer vacations, but it’s not too late to get your family back on track.

Establishing a routine is vital to children’s mental and physical health, but it’s also important to try not to push for a change overnight, but to gradually transition children into a routine. We asked Children’s National pediatrician, Lee Beers, MD, for some advice on gradually getting kids back into a routine.

“Kids do better with structure and planning. They feel more in control of themselves and their lives if they know what to expect,” said Beers, who is a mom of two school-aged children.

As you ease your kids back into a regular routine, you may experience resistance from them about going to bed earlier or sitting together at the table for dinner, but stay calm and talk to them about the importance of these changes. Managing your children’s routine is no easy task, but below are a few things to keep in mind:

Plan ahead. According to Dr. Beers, the more you can organize and plan in advance, the easier it will be to get the entire family back into a routine. Sit down on Sundays with your kids to discuss the upcoming week. This allows you to prepare them ahead of time and lets kids know what to expect for the week.

Reinforce their bedtime. Dr. Beers explained that a consistent sleep schedule is one of the most important routines for children as it affects their ability to learn at school. To get kids into a regular routine, be consistent with their bedtime and turn off electronics well before their heads hit their pillow. Read through our general guidelines to learn just how much sleep kids need.

Emphasize healthy eating routines. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and has been linked to improved concentration and performance in children. Provide healthy breakfast options for kids such as whole-grain waffles or yogurt before they leave for school. It’s also important to eat dinner together as a family and not just during the school year, but all year round. Eating together gives parents an opportunity to spend time with their children and talk about their school day without the distraction of electronics.  
Establish a homework routine. Discuss and set expectations with children to help them manage their after-school homework assignments. Find a dedicated place free of distractions for them to complete their homework, and once they are finished, allow them to unwind.

Dr. Beers recommends that school be the highest priority for both parents and children. For parents, this means prioritizing and ensuring your kids are well-rested, ready to learn and arrive on time to school. By teaching children these habits, you’re teaching them lifetime behaviors that will serve them well as they develop.

How do you get your children back into a regular routine? Share your tips with us in the comments below!


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