The word “routine” often gets a bad reputation. It’s common to think of a routine as sterile, dull, or somehow lacking spontaneity. However, deep down we know that establishing and utilizing a daily routine for success has the potential to make life a lot easier, thus leading to a more productive and positive day. Many parents struggle with developing a routine that will work well for their families’ demanding schedule, as well as each family member’s individual needs. Our days are bombarded by a list of to-dos. Work. School. Zooming kids to extracurricular activities…the list goes on and on. It can become overwhelming. Sometimes it may feel easier to “just go with the flow”; particularly, when there are children throwing tantrums, adolescents giving attitudes, or just the daily demand to stretch yourself thin. Developing and sticking to a daily routine can lead to success, and I have five tips that can help you get your family on the fast track to success.
Fueling Up to Start the Day
Our cars need fuel to get us where we need to be; why wouldn’t our bodies? This tip may seem elementary, but many families do not start the day off with breakfast (let alone a healthy meal). Making time to eat breakfast can increase brain function and positively impact mood and energy. This translates to less stress and more focus.
Make a Family Calendar (Organization and Executive Functioning Skills)
To avoid hiccups and unnecessary stress, creating a family calendar that can be viewed by the whole family can keep everyone on the same page. This calendar can include expected activities, such as: extracurricular activities, meetings, holidays, family plans, homework, etc. See more on school success here. The major benefit of having a family calendar is that it reduces stress for everyone by eliminating confusion. Including your children in the process of creating the calendar can also be a fun family activity!
Create a Space to Communicate as a Family
Busy schedules can impede on family time and negatively impact healthy communication. Having regular family check-ins built into your routine for daily success can be helpful with increasing communication and keep parents informed about their kids’ lives. This may look like talking about positives from the day while around the dinner table, before bed, or while in route to a scheduled activity.
Intentional Mindful Breaks
Scheduling a time for a personal check-in should be a part of your regular routine. Mindfulness has become very popular, and for good reason! It is a time for us to take an intentional pause and take stock of our thoughts and feelings, without judgment. I suggest scheduling several ‘breaks’ in the middle of your day. This check-in will prove helpful in building self-awareness and allow you (the parent) to address any thoughts or feelings that may impact how you interact with your family.
Establish Bedtime Routines
This tip honestly should be number one. How often do we burn the midnight oil getting trying to get things done? I know I have! Life can be demanding and it seems the 24-hours that we are given to complete our daily tasks is just not enough; however, stealing time from rest is not usually helpful. Just as we need fuel (food) to keep going, we need rest. This is important to everyone in the family. Kids of course need rest to grow and avoid those troublesome cranky tantrums. Adults need the same thing. Having an established routine before bedtime, including a scheduled time for bed, can help recharge us, decompress us from the stressors of the day, and directly impacts our mood and productivity for the following day. Setting appropriate bedtimes for each family member (e.g. 7:00 PM for elementary school-aged children) will lead to less fuss in the morning.
Here’s something really important to remember: what works for someone else, might not work for you. Our child and family therapists can work with you to identify what your family may need to include in your daily routine for success. The key is to create regular and consistent daily routine that will help your family achieve success