Routines help children feel safe, develop life skills and build healthy habits
While secondary students are now finishing up their school year (or preparing for exams), primary school still has a month to go. It’s around this time of year that routines can start to get a relax with you kids keeping have an eye on the long summer ahead.
Most parents can relate to the stress involved in getting children up, ready for school and out the door—socks and ties goes missing, breakfast is refused, and homework assignments are suddenly remembered. This can be stressful for everyone in the family and doesn’t get the day off to a great start.
A good routine is one way that you can help your family to start the school day feeling relaxed and happy. Before you can set a routine that really works for you, you first need to identify what tasks need to be completed the night before and how much time you have each morning. See what can be done the night before and do as much beforehand. Be assertive and clear with everyone regarding the expectations of each family member in the morning.
Parents also need to consider how they can remain calm so that things can still go smoothly even if the best laid plans go awry. Try to take care of your own needs (a hot shower and a strong cup of coffee, perhaps!) before the children awake
Below are some strategies to try to keep things running smoothly so you can all head out the door smiling:
n Get school bags and uniforms ready the night before
n Get up earlier then the children to allow time to get yourself ready
n Be clear on everyone’s morning tasks: what will each member of the family do? What needs to be done together?
n Call the children to get up on time and at the same time each morning. If needed, come back after 5-10 minutes. Remain calm, remind them of the time and use praise and encouragement
n Assist younger children with putting on uniforms
n Offer a healthy breakfast to set them up for day—cereal, toast, eggs, fruit or yoghurt. Eat together when possible
n Use praise and encouragement when they complete their assigned tasks and try your best to ignore some (less than desirable) behaviours
n Make sure you say a proper affectionate goodbye
These routines will help mornings run more smoothly. Routine provides structure and can strengthen parent-child relationships. They can also enhance the parent’s sense of competence. Routines also have a direct impact on the well-being of the children. A smooth routine means there is a calmer environment, and children will get to school on time. Both children and parents will be less stressed which may help the child to feel more connected to their family.
This article was written by a member of Parenting Limerick, a network of parenting and family support services. For more information on this and other topics go to www.loveparenting.ie.
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