Say goodbye to lazy summer days. School has begun!
The hustle and bustle of back-to-school time is pretty stressful for many parents. This is mostly because it is difficult to get our children to change gears. For a lot of households, the summer routine is more laid back than the school-day routine. The change in routine can also be a stressful, yet exciting, time for our children. The way we start our day has a big impact on how the rest of the day will go. By following a few simple steps, your family’s day is sure to start on the right foot.
Children often need reminders of what needs to be done on school mornings, and parents are more often tired of giving these reminders. This can cause added stress during an already rushed morning. One suggestion is to develop and stick to a routine.
Adults can benefit from keeping to a routine by getting everyone out the door at a certain time. Children benefit from routines because it helps them feel safe and secure. Using routines can also decrease power struggles. By letting your child be a part of the routine by checking off each item as it is completed, he or she is sharing control of what needs to get accomplished.
Try using a “routine chart” that is similar to a chore chart. Make a list of things that need to be done by your child in the morning (brush teeth, get dressed, put on shoes, etc). For younger children who cannot yet read, try taking a picture of your child doing these things and posting where he or she can see to remind him or her about what needs to be done.
Each day, your child can see this list and check off items as he or she completes them. You can reward your child at the end of the week if he or she completes his daily routines.
Rewards can be simple things such as picking out a rental movie, choosing the dinner menu on Friday night or an extra bedtime story.
The bedtime routine is just as important as the morning routine. It is human nature to need to wind down after a busy day in order to feel restful at bedtime. Parents should choose a routine that can be repeated every night. The routine can be put on a chart similar to the morning routine. This can help make bedtime a pleasant experience and end the day on a positive note. Including relaxation time in the routine is important. This can consist of a warm bath, soft music, stories or books and cuddle time.
Preschool and school-age children need at least 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night. If your child does not get enough sleep at night, it can lead to a decrease in attention, memory and performance. This, in turn, can contribute to poor grades in school. Morning and bedtime routines set your child up for good habits throughout childhood and on into adulthood.
Jessica Keitz, MSW, LSW is the family education coordinator for the Family Center of Durango, located at 489˝ Florida Road.