A huge part of setting up routines is knowing what the heck kids could be doing on their own! Often we don’t even realize we’re doing things that the kids are perfectly capable of doing. Many parent find a sample routine helpful. Here are three basic routines that a child can follow. Of course you can adapt it to meet your child’s ability but all of these are reasonable, and believe it or not, possible (just ask our community of parents).
Morning Routine – The mornings can be nightmares for many parents. Kids running late, breakfast on the run, backpacks left behind, missing clothes, power struggles and yelling. It’s not what we want, but it’s often what we get. As parents, we understand that the morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day, so it is important to start on the right foot. So what’s the secret to smooth mornings, take offs that are timely and kids who are ready and excited about their day?
Mom and Dad have two kids, ages 4 and 8. They don’t all follow the same exact schedule together as a team, but they get through the morning on their individual agendas. And they do it daily. And it works because everyone knows what they are supposed to do from the moment they wake up!
Anna /Mom – 45 years
6:00 wake up
6:10 Coffee with husband
6:30 Shower and dressed
7:00 Checks email and organizes day
7:15 Helps Rachel check the weather
7:35 Helps Rachel unload the Dishwasher
7:45 Goes back to bedroom and stays out of the way
7:55 Turns on music so Rachel knows its time to leave in 5 minutes
8:00 Goes out to car and leaves – whether kids are in the car or not.
8:05 Henry & Anna have agreed that on the ride to school, they will not listen to the radio – they will
visit. Mom supports Henry’s natural rhythm and “allows” him to sleep in and Henry agrees not to listen
to the radio and chat with his mom.
Rachel – 4 years
7:00 Rise and Shine to Tinkerbell Alarm Clock
7:15 Down the stairs – checks the weather
7:35 Helps mom unload the dishwasher from the night before
7:40 Pack Backpack & snack for preschool
7:45 Brush teeth – before getting dressed because sometimes she dribbles on her shirt when she spits
7:50 Back upstairs to get dressed and relaxes
Rachel is particularly organized and created a routine that allows her to read quietly in her room for 5 to
10 minutes. She and her mom have agreed upon a signal that it is 5 minutes to take off and Rachel
comes down the steps – puts on her coat and boots/shoes/sandals and heads to the bus/to the car.
Henry – 8 years
7:45 Bolts out of bed
7:50 Down stairs fully dressed
7:55 Grabs a piece of fruit or poptart for breakfast
8:00 Packs backpack complete with travel toothbrush and toothpaste and Listerine breath strips
8:05 Runs out the door putting shoes on and carrying family garbage to the garage
If you are wondering why mom is not more involved in the morning routine its because the children have been trained. Mom understands that if a child can do it, she deserves the space to do it. If you would like more information on training children, please check out Chapter 3 of the PonT home program.
School Routine – Along with buying new pencils and notebooks, “back to school” also means a return to routines, alarm clocks, and the responsibilities that many of our children left behind with the last bell in June. There are all kinds of systems families can use, and Parenting On Track is about progress, change, and the long-term goal of encouraging independence and self-reliance in our children.
This single Mom of 3 kids, ages 6, 8 and 10, began following the program when her oldest was three. Notice how much the children do on their own and how much quality time is worked into the routine!
Valerie – 48 years
(3 days a week the kids ride the bus home and 2 days a week she picks the kids up and drops the oldest at a local skate park where he is part of a program that mentors younger kids.)
When the kids ride the bus home: 3:00 – Connect with kids when they get off the bus or pick up afterschool to deliver to extracurricular activities – (3 kids 10 minutes each listen and download)
Hillary – 6 years – Comes home and makes snack
Jared – 8 years – Jumps on bike and does round up with kids in the neighborhood for an hour of tree climbing
Elliot – 10 years – Gets ready for neighborhood carpool to skateboard park
When mom picks the kids up
Hillary – Has packed a snack that she put in the car before she left for school
Jared – Needs a chance to unwind and has agreed to play a video game in the car as long as he turns it off when they arrive home.
Elliot – Spends time talking with mom since he will be gone for another 2 hours.
Hillary – finishes up snack and completes afternoon contribution – helps mom prep for dinner and gets ready to do her nightly reading
Jared – comes in from playing with friends – cleans up for dinner
Elliot – comes home from skateboard park in time for dinner
Hillary – does nightly reading
Jared – does contribution and homework
Elliot – does contribution – this guy does his homework in the am before school.
Bedtime Routine – Most parents I have worked with over the years spend anywhere from 20 to 2 hours with their kids saying goodnight and the majority of the parents tell me they hate it. They also tell me they feel guilty for feeling this way. They tell me how they imagined bedtime would be when their children were infants, but how frustrated they are that that image never materialized. You know the scenario – a last cuddle, prayers, maybe a book, a kiss, I love you, and out the door the parent goes. But that isn’t the reality.
The reality is that most parents and kids have created routines that actually divides them rather than bringing them closer. We all want our last moment with a child to be a special and deep connection. So how do you get that?
Jan and Bill – 3 Kids – Ages 3, 6, 11
Aidan – 3
Bedtime routine begins at 7:00
Aidan decides who will go upstairs while he gets ready for bed which includes:
o Reading a book downstairs with mom and dad
o The other kids are in their rooms so that Aidan has a chance to connect with mom and dad and begin to relax before bed. They learned the hard way that if the other kids were flying around the house, Aidan resisted saying goodnight.
o Washing teeth
o Taking a bath
o Pajamas on
When he is in bed, 7:30 – 7:45, he calls to the other parent to come up for kisses. Both parents share one appreciation with Aidan and often times he returns with an appreciation of his own. They have maintained the one sentence rule so that Aidan doesn’t turn this into a 30 minute ordeal. Early on, they decided they would leave the room quietly if Aidan started making mischief with the appreciations. They reported that within 3 days, they had established one of the nicest bedtime routines. Final kisses and lights out by 7:45. Jan and Bill decided they needed 15 minutes to themselves to regroup after putting Aidan to bed and found this a time to start their wind down for the night.
Megan – 6. Megan is a night owl and comes alive just after dinner. Her parents have figured out that she doesn’t require as much sleep as most kids and can maintain a great attitude with as little as 6 hours of sleep.
7:00 – 8:00 is when Megan gets herself ready for the following day. The house is quiet and she has agreed to leave mom and dad alone with Aidan. She also does her contribution during this time (unless it involves vacuuming).
8:00 – 8:30 is for reading with mom and dad. Megan doesn’t have homework yet, so this is still a time to connect alone with her parents.
8:30 – 9:00 she is ready for downtime and has a room full of options. The family has agreed to tv on weekends, but not during the week. Downtime includes legos, crafts, and any other interests that might capture Megan’s attention.
9:00 – Call mom and dad up for final kisses. Megan isn’t in bed yet. But she is ready to say goodnight. Mom and dad gave up fighting with her about lights out when they realized that she could self regulate her sleeping.
Josh – 10. Josh is a meticulous kid who like order and consistency.
7:00 – 8:00 – Homework
8:00 – 9:00 – Gets ready for following day: includes making his lunch, unpacking and repacking his backpack
9:00 – 9:30 – Connect with the folks before turning in. They have begun chatting at the dining room table giving their conversations a more serious tone. This allows Josh the full attention of his parents and for them to talk in private and venture into adult topics.
9:30 – Upstairs for a shower and bed.
Mom and Dad have from 9:30 on every evening to connect and then to end the evening as they see fit.
What routines have you put in place for your family and how are they working for all of you?