My Typical Day
5:15am - 6:00am Personal Morning Routine
6:00am - 7:00am Kids Morning Routine
7:00am - 4:00pm Work Routine
4:00pm - 5:30pm Homework and Dinner
5:30pm - 6:30pm Chores and Family Time
6:30pm - 7:30pm Bedtime Routine
After that it all gets a little fuzzy...I usually pick up around the house, watch a favorite show, fold laundry, write, etc.
The key to getting things done is a schedule. What makes my schedule work is that I stick to it! Your doesn't have to be as detailed, (I spared you the minute details of how each routine breaks down into 15 minute increments! I think I might have a problem...) but you have to have an idea of what is going to happen every day.
The bigger issue is kids need to know what is going to happen every day. They thrive on routines! So even if you don't, your kids need it.
"When children have too many unknowns, anxiety builds up and they start showing emotional reactions to the inconsistency. For instance, they may cry or become irritable and take it out on other people. If they don’t have regular routines it starts showing in different ways."
Moises Roman - UCLA Early Care & Education Department
So how do you get a routine started? Or fix one that isn't working for you?
1. Start small
The best routines are quick and easy to remember. Start with a bedtime routine and work from there. You don't have to schedule every minute of every day. Choose a few events that happen daily (i.e. waking up, eating, chores, homework) and decide how you would like them to happen every day. If you have older children you may want to discuss this at a family meeting. Giving kids ownership helps with buy-in!
2. Make a plan
Post the plan somewhere everyone can see it. If you have younger children include picture cues so they understand what to do. Don't be afraid to do what works for you!
3. Be consistent
There are always going to be things that come up but stick with the routine as much as possible, especially in the first few weeks. I can't tell you how many times I have veered from my schedule and it has come back to bite me in the butt. Life is a lot simpler when my kiddos know what is expected. (This goes for my school kids as well. When teachers change the schedule it throws everyone off for the day! We end up doing some major damage control.)
4. Make it fun
My family likes to have dance breaks, races and competitions during our routines. For example, we will often turn on dance music while doing chores then we make up funny dance moves while putting things away. It gets the clutter cleaned up twice as fast! In my classroom I use verbal cues when it is time to transition to a new activity. My students learn the verbal and visual cues during the first month of school and follow them all year long.
5. Don't give up
Strong routines take a while to establish. I know that isn't what you want to hear but you need to remember it when you are ready to give up and go back to the way things were before you started your new routines. I used to believe in the "21 days to form a habit" hype and I was always disappointed when 3 weeks passed and I still didn’t want to make my bed or wash the dishes. The article below discusses why the 21 day habit doesn’t work.
How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (James Clear)
"On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic -- 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally's study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit."
Extra Tip: Ask your child's teacher about their daily routines and cues. You might be able to use them at home. You can help reinforce them at home while their teacher reinforces at school. Just another bonus of having a relationship with your child’s teacher!
So where will you start? What works for your family? What doesn't worked?