Here's How to Set Up a Family Routine
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If you're like a lot of parents I speak to, you crave the satisfaction and predictability of a consistent family routine that helps your children, especially in the evenings.
While there aren't a lot of studies on the efficiency of routines, the research there is available shows that consistent routines (in particularly in the evenings) do help children feel more settled and also to achieve better sleep.
In many ways, it's really quite simple to establish a family routine, but in as many ways it seems really overwhelming and hard to achieve. Recently a mother said to me that a family routine would be a "dream come true".
If you're like a lot of busy mothers then I have good news for you! In this blog post I'm going to teach you how to set up a family routine.
Step 1: Write Down All Your Daily Family Activities
A routine is worthless if it doesn't fit into your family life. For this reason, the very first step you need to do is to sit down and write down all of your daily activities. And I do mean all of them.
Your list may include breakfast, your quiet time that you take each day (if you don't, you should), snacks, dinner, park time errands, work, any hobby that you spend time on during the week, chores, house cleaning, checking social media, classes, schooling, extracurricular activities, date nights, family movie nights, etc.
Step 2: Categorize Your Day's Activities
Once you have your full list of activities, then write down what parts of the day you usually do these activities. Place them in these categories: Wake Up, Morning, Noon, Early Afternoon, Evening, Night. When you place them in categories, choose the categories you actually do these in and not the ideal categories you wish.
At this point you have your family life activities in categories, that alone should give a sense of organization. But it may look a little cluttered or messy since you don't do all the activities every day or you find yourself with too many activities in one category. Let's move on to the next step.
Step 3: Simplify Your Family Life
Sure we need food, a home we are comfortable in, a calming environment at various times of the day (resting times, dinners, bedtime), schooling, work.. but let's talk about the extras that are not necessity but you and/or your partner added them to your lives.
Ask yourself: Do the additional family activities fulfill me or my family? Are they adding family value and connection to our lives?
In today's bustling world where we tend to do too much, a simplified family life will result in more calmness, connection and less stress and anxiety.
I want you to really examine what you have going on in your life and in your family's life and be willing to remove what adds too much complexity to your life or is not encouraging family connection.
Step 4: Add These Essentials to Your Family Routine
I recommend adding the following to your categories:
- Quiet time for children and parents
- Family dinner time
- Evening family reading/story time
- Bedtime routine
- Fun times
These cornerstones of families add time for connection, discussions, engagement and the foundation consistency.
Studies have shown that is the quality of time spent with family that matters, not so much the quantity. By adding these essentials to your day, you have built-in time for quality time with your family.
Step 5: Creating a New Family Routine
This is the final step of creating your family routine. You will now take all the information you have about your family activities and essentials and create a new routine.
I recommend writing down the categories (see suggested categories in Step 2) of the day in a fresh piece of paper or board.
Using what you have from Step 2, where you sorted your activities into categories you normally do them in, start to place your new condensed and essential list of family activities into categories that make sense for your family. This is now your new family routine.
During a family meeting, go over your new family routine with your children.
Getting used to a family routine will take some time, commitment and most importantly consistently. But, once you are comfortable in the flow and rhythm of your new routine you will appreciate that it brings connection, eases parenting challenges and brings more peace to your family.