The beginning of the school year is an importnt time to establish the family routine for the year. When I say family routine, I do mean family routine. One has to only be the parent of more than one child, or live in a two-person family to realize how each person’s schedule impacts the other. Establishing the family routine in critical to establishing the rhythm of the school year.
When thinking about how to establish a family routine, it is important to think about a number of important questions and elements:
- Completing Homework—How does homework get done? When does it get done? Where does it get done? It is important to set aside time each day Mondays through Thursdays to complete homework. For older children, time needs to be set aside on the weekend as well.
- Extra Curricular Activities—When do they occur? Where do they occur? How do I transport my child to and from them? As parents we know the value of activities after school. However, they can also add more stress to a busy week. If you child (ren) participate in them, arrange carpools and limit extra curricular activites to no more than 1 or 2 per child.
- Bedtime—How do I ensure my child gets enough sleep? How do I establish a bedtime routine? The research in the past few years has indicated that many school-aged children are not getting enough sleep. This is resulting in children who have difficulty concentrating in school. Sleep is a vital part of the day. Establish a bedtime routine and try to deviate from it as little as possible during the school week. If your child is very difficult to arouse in the morning, s/he is probably not getting enough sleep.
- The Morning Rush—How do I get my child to school on time? How do I ensure that everything that needs to get done I the morning gets done? The morning routine can be one of the most difficult routines for many families to cope with. Doing as little as possible in the morning reduces stress. Pack backpacks and lunches the night before. Walking everyone up 15 minutes earlier can make a world of difference.
- Free Time/Down Time—How do I give my child(ren) time to wind down while getting everything done? What about my free time? Each day there should be time to relax. Even a short amount of relaxation time is rejuvenating. If you are finding that there is no time to relax in the evening, then the schedule is too busy. Re-examine the schedule and prioritize activities. Do not forget about down time for yourself.
I hope I have given you some food for thought as you establish the routines for the year. You might want to check out the book Simplify Your Life with Children by Elaine St. James for more ideas as well.