A Routine for…Your Kids

Hello Readers!  I know a lot of you are probably experiencing the overwhelming urge for a vacation.  I often feel like I need a vacation after the holidays, and even moreso with our son Sean in the picture!  The holidays are stressful, and afterward I feel like it takes me the entire month of January to get back to normal.

This is often why I wait until February at the earliest to start a new habit or try to work on a new project.  I find that trying to start something new in January results in utter failure within a few short weeks.  This is primarily because I am already trying to get back to my normal routine and not in the mindset for a new project or habit.

The same can be said of our kids.  It’s rough on them to go through the holiday mess!  For an entire month, their usual routine is thrown by the wayside and a new, hectic, and sugar filled one comes screaming into their lives.  There are parties, millions of activities, and sugary excitement to fill every day of the month of December.  And then suddenly it stops in January.  Sadly, however, our kids are already on this new hectic routine and the old one just feels like punishment.

So, it’s trying for us parents because we constantly feel like we have to fight our kids about everything.  I’m sure many of you have felt that frazzled feeling that leaves you short tempered even before you’ve gotten a cup of coffee.  Your kids are already bouncing off the walls and you’re begging for a break, even though you technically got one during the holidays.  I get it.  I’ve been there.  I was there until last week.

I’m not fully out of it, but I have made progress in getting our son Sean back into the swing of our old routine.  I have fought him each and every day about eating right, his sleep schedule, and his naps and play.  And it has been an uphill battle for me.  But slowly we are getting there.  So, how do you get there?  Here are a few tips on how to get your kids back into their routine.

1.  Be patient.
This is a very important step to getting your kids back on a normal routine.  Be patient.  They are going to fight you on it, they will struggle.  Just be patient with them and let them know that you care.  If need be, explain why you’re reverting to their old routine in a positive manner.  Instead of saying “Because I said so”, explain it in a way that best represents your support in them.  Try something like “I want to make sure that you grow up to be the best you can be, that you become successful in whatever you choose to do.  And to get you there, we need to get plenty of rest/eat our veggies/study hard/do our chores/etc.”  By presenting it to them that you’re looking out for their best interests, they may be more inclined to listen.  If you know what they want to do, then you can include that in their success.  If they still question it, then you can give them a brief overview of why the task is important, which should be familiar to you such as eating right and sleeping well, or you can suggest that they think it over and come to the answer on their own by doing said task.

2. Be forgiving.
This is a tough one for any mom on any day of the week, let alone on days when said mom is frazzled and worn down by the holidays.  But we need to be forgiving of our children for the sudden outbursts.  Look at it from their point of view: they have spent the better part of the last month or so since Thanksgiving with nothing but games and sweets, and their schedule was almost completely thrown off in favor of fun and games.  And immediately afterward they were shoved back into their old routine with cranky parents telling them they couldn’t have any of the fun that they enjoyed just weeks before.  It’s confusing!  So, rather than snapping at them for not bouncing back like you want them to, be forgiving and understand that we parents are to blame for this sudden change in the situation.  Instead, focus on their good behavior and kindly explain why the changes in their routine occurred.

3.  Start on a positive note.
Think about this: kids are thrust back into their old routine when they head back to school after their Winter break.  Typically, the day starts off bad as we come stomping into their rooms at the crack of dawn and bark at them to get out of bed and get ready for school.  Their first encounter of the morning is a mad mom or a stressed one that snaps and the littlest misstep, and it can be hard for kids.  They take everything to heart, and they will automatically associate your short temper and snapping with something they did wrong.  And it can affect their abilities to get started on the right foot.  Instead, try waking them with a cheerful greeting.  Smile and keep their spirits up.  Maybe sing a song with them as you get ready for the day.  You can utilize it as a means to get them ready faster, too, by turning it into a game of “Can you finish [the task] before the song is done?”  By doing this you can keep their spirits up and have a much better success rate in getting them back into their routine faster.  Besides, your new song/game may become a part of the routine.

4.  As always, be prepared.
Just like we learned in Girls and Boys Scouts, always be prepared.  Although it is late to think about it now, I would highly recommend preparing your kids for their old routine the week before they return to school.  On Sunday, start by laying out their clothes or organizing their clothes for the week as you normally would the week before school returns.  Then move on to their morning routine, including their old wake up time, on Monday.  Then start them on their old eating schedule (as in breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner) at their old times for those activities on Tuesday.  Next introduce their after school activities, even if they aren’t in session, on Wednesday.  I recommend reading, sports, dance, gymnastics, etc. in your own home or yard to get them back in the groove.  On Thursday, start on their old eating habits for their snack times.  Instead of the candy or cookies, introduce healthy options like fruit, nuts, veggies with hummus, cheese, yogurt, or any other healthy favorites.  On Friday, introduce the old family night favorite.  Gather everyone for a favorite family game or movie, and focus on having fun.  For Saturday, focus on preparing them to get out the door on time.  Make sure backpacks have the necessary books, papers, supplies, etc. in them.  Ensure their shoes, coats, mittens and hats, etc. are ready to go at the door or at your designated spot like the mudroom or entry room.  On the day before school starts, get them ready as if they are going to school, including at their usual time, and head out the door to something like an early pre-church breakfast at a favorite spot or to an early session of church.  Or, if you aren’t the church going type, head out to do your grocery shopping early in the morning.  It will help get your kids back into the swing of their old routine and you can typically beat the crowds that head out after church.

So, there you have it.  These are a few tips I have to help you get your kids back into their old routine.  It does take some extra work for you, but a little extra work now should save you some headaches later on.

Until next time,

-BBM

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