Children thrive on routines. Not only do kids with regular schedules have a higher level of social-emotional health than their peers do, but routines can also prevent health issues including childhood obesity.
However, every parent knows what a challenge it can be to teach kids new habits. The CDC recommends being consistent and predictable while following through with what you say to help your kiddos get used to the schedule you want them to follow. Setting clear expectations and consequences as well as maintaining a positive attitude and rewarding good behavior will all go a long way.
But where do you begin?
While a morning schedule is essential to getting a handle on the day and bedtime routines help children (and adults) settle down to get sufficient rest, your family can also benefit from a middle-of-the-day routine.
If your afternoon “routine” often includes a jumble of shoes and backpacks by the door, kids planted on the couch while glued to screens and a fresh pile of dirty dishes from afternoon snacks, a refinement may be in order.
Tracie from Penny Pinchin’ Mom created a simple yet effective checklist that can help even the most disorganized of children (and parents) get it together. You can download it here and print it out to help streamline your family’s after-school routine.
Entries on this list will not only help your afternoons run more smoothly, they will reduce stress from your evenings and mornings, too. For example, emptying backpacks right away ensures that homework is completed and important papers make it to Mom or Dad.
Establishing the routine will likely take some effort on your end. As Penny Pinchin’ Mom suggests, it’s a good idea to post the checklist where everyone can see it. Explain your expectations from the start and let kids know when they forget a step. Of course, offering rewards for sticking to the list probably won’t hurt, either. It will be worth it for the peace of mind you gain.
[h/t: Penny Pinchin Mom]