Successful routines are built on consistency. A routine needs to be something both your and your children can maintain. This does need to be split-second precise, but just realistic and reasonable. For example, if you’re picking up the kids at five every day after work, your routine needs to be built around that. You can’t expect to get dinner on the table at 5:30 when that’s right when you arrive home!
Routines Should Mesh
The routines you establish for your kids should mesh with yours. This seems obvious, but ask yourself if, for example, there’s a traffic jam to get into the bathroom in the morning, or if you consistently find yourself driving for a late pick-up from school.
And remember to talk to your kids about what they want their routines to be. They don’t get the final word, of course, but let them have a say, and if they want time for something, let them make their case.
Lead By Example
The need to model the behavior you want out of your kids should be built into your routine. For example, if, after dinner, you flop down on the couch and watch TV, your kids will probably go along with that routine, even on days when they have loads of free time. So if you want, say, your kids to read a bit every day, you need to have that built into your own routine.
Build In Structured And Unstructured Time
Part of growing up is learning how to spend your time, and kids need guidance there like in anything else. But they also need time to play, to unwind, to just goof off, try new things, and explore. So, when designing your routines, leave open time for kids just to be kids.
Unstructured time, however, doesn’t mean kids can do just anything. If you don’t want them to spend all day playing video games, make sure they understand there are times and limits. Parental control apps can be helpful for establishing limits on your kids’ screens and ensuring that they stick to them.
For kids to do certain things, they need spaces to do it. It sounds obvious, but how many of us have had to shovel things off desks or clear the kitchen table to make room for homework projects or the computer to write a book report? So, work on building spaces and stations for your kids to do certain activities. Have space on your desk where they can do homework, have a place in the house for them to craft or try hobbies, and have a place just to relax.
Building a routine will be a process, and every household will have a different one. Depending on work schedules, school schedules, and the day to day opportunities life gives us, though, we can work with our kids and ourselves for a better, happier after-school routine. Need help keeping screens off the menu? Look to parental control apps for support. Sign up for Screen Time now to get started!