Oh sweeet summer time! Trips to the pool, family beach vacations, birthday parties, summer camp, I name it— and you’ve probably done it. Summer is great. Summer is free!
While summer is all about those carefree and spontaneous fun-filled days, summer does eventually wind down and families must gear up and refocus for the upcoming school year. The list begins – backpack, lunchbox, supplies, clothes, etc. When does the school bus pick up? What is the start time? What are the after school activities? And we’re off to the races!
Let’s prepare for this upcoming academic year with a refresher course on ROUTINES. If your children are elementary school age, it won’t take much for you to remember the newborn days. Think napping, pooping, crying, eating, and repeat. Then somewhere along the lines you established a routine with your toddler. This is where I am currently living—terrible two land. So now, more than ever I’m tightening up our routines and seeing firsthand how much my son thrives when we have them. As a former K-10 educator, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of routines for kids of all ages. Here’s why:
Routines Allow For Organization
While we don’t want to create over compulsive children, we certainly want to teach them about the power of organization. Learning that things have their places is an essential lesson and can be taught in those first few months of life. With newborns, we help them to distinguish the difference between day and night. The daytime is bright and active and nighttime is dark and calm. As children grow up, we can help them to understand that routine and organization throughout the day can lead to a more calming night. For example, teaching your children to pack up their backpack when their homework is finished and place it by the front door will mean it’s ready to go for the morning. An example of establishing a routine with your upper elementary school child may be something like, “after dinner we layout our school clothes for the next day.” Getting your children to understand how routines help them stay organized will eventually translate to other aspects of their life as they grow up.
Routines Can Alleviate Anxiety
Directly related to the point above regarding organization, routines are incredibly effective with children because they can truly alleviate anxiety. For many children, the unknown can be intimating or scary. Kids like to know what is next on the agenda. Of course, in life we don’t always know what is next, but by setting self-organizing routines we tend to be more productive, get things accomplished, and have generally less stress. Children will see this too, if we help them. If you walk into most elementary school classrooms, you will see a schedule for the day listed somewhere in the room. It will be somewhere where all students can see it and it will be clearly laid out. For children, they find this calming. They know that after art comes lunch and then P.E. is followed by music, etc. Having this schedule and routine takes away many worries for children. You can try this at home by purchasing a white board for your kitchen and having your before school and after school routines listed.
Routines Mean Fewer Meltdowns
Let’s all take a moment to think about the child that skipped their nap…While there will be days when it’s simply unavoidable, perhaps it was the only doctors appointment available for example, we just deal with it the ways parents so often do. However, sticking to daily routines will help to avoid a meltdown. We know that an overtired child will likely act out. We also know that a hungry child gets cranky. So knowing what we know as parents means that we can avoid these unfortunate (and draining!) moments by setting routines for our children. For example, with my son, we do bath time, followed by calming lavender balm on his chest, books, and then bed. It makes for a nice nighttime routine and keeps bedtime safe and predictable. * I will note that we just moved recently and got off our routine….it wasn’t pretty and only further validates why routines truly work!
Routines Are Health Promoting
This is truly the coolest. By setting routines we can teach children about taking care of themselves. We wake up, we eat a healthy breakfast, and we brush our teeth. We wash our hands after we use the restroom. We take bath every night to stay clean. We brush our teeth before bed. All of these things that “we” do shows our children that daily maintenance and care of our body is health promoting. Less sick days, less cavities, less stress, therefore, overall just a healthier, happier kid.
Now that you’ve read this refresher, how do you plan to get your families back into your school year routines? Perhaps sit down as a family and decide together! Empower your kids by asking for their help on designing routines that will work for your family.
Now that you’re preparing to send your kids back to school (and get back on a normal routine) did you know you can privately share all your summer vacation memories with friends and family through the free Families Connect app? Sign up today and start sharing your favorite moments.
Frances Sacripanti is a mother and personal wellness coach who specializes in health and fitness education, motivation and empowerment. A former health and physical education teacher, Frances has a passion for movement, health focused eating, and helping others to reach their health and wellness goals. She shares her philosophy and knowledge base through her website www.mindbodybespoke.com and her active Instagram page @mindbodybespoke.