It is important to create and maintain structure & routines for our kids. They respond to the predictability & can thrive with the consistency. As I have said in previous blogs, many lessons can be learned by playing games, having bedtime rituals & having fun with your kids. It is the same with structure & routines. By having structure & routines, you are teaching some great life skills.
Some basic ideas about structure & routines:
Have a morning routine/structure: get up, make bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth
Have an afternoon/after school routine/structure: ask kids what homework they have, have a snack, review & complete homework*, play, maybe have time limited screen time
*Side note: homework can be tricky. Sometimes kids need a break before homework & then can focus on it. Other kids may have a hard time transitioning from playing to doing their homework. And other kids may do better if the do homework while having a snack. I will discuss other homework strategies in a later blog.
Have an evening routine/structure: help set table, sit down for dinner as a family (this becomes harder as they get older but it is good to try to sit together for meals), help clear the table/wash the dishes, finish homework not done, straighten bedrooms, maybe have limited screen time
Have a bedtime ritual (as discussed in previous blog): brush teeth, get into pajamas, pick out clothes for next day (can really help with chaos of next morning), read a bedtime story
Weekend structure/routines are always different from the day to day. Your kids may be involved in sports, music & other extracurricular activities but the ideas are still the same. You just adjust to what the weekend commitments are.
Having a consistent structure/routine is especially helpful in times of stress, separation, divorce & change. My mom is a very structured person. My sister & I knew from an early age what was expected of us which included making our bed, putting away our toys, cleaning our room & washing our morning dishes (latch key kids, mom was already at work). When my parents separated & ultimately divorced, our routine got us through the roughest parts. Even though we were all devastated, sad, angry, etc., we knew what our routine was. I knew what was expected of me. And I knew dinner would be at 5pm, I knew I had to put my toys away, clean my room & make my bed. That predictable routine helped stabilize our family while we were grieving & adjusting to the new change in our life.