Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I think children do best when they have structure in their lives. Not all the time, but most of the time. The way to build structure into a child's life is through daily routines. As a teacher I learned quickly that students do best when they have structure and daily routines that are predictable. Most, if not all teachers have a daily routine in which they live by. From the minute the students enter the door of the classroom, to the final bell ringing at the end of the day, the routine helps the child to know what is expected of them. The same idea can be implemented at home. 

Two routines to live by:
Morning & Night
Already with my 4 month old boys I can see a pattern in their mood and demeanor on the days that we stick to our routine. When babies are thrown out of schedule it is easy to see and hear when they are unhappy. I have read several books on the proven fact that babies/children (and I believe people in general) are happier when they have a predictable routine set in place. So my advice to all parents is if you can have only TWO routines in the day make them first thing in the morning and before bed time. 

The key to a good routine is to try and perform the same tasks at the same time each day. Most parents have a morning routine that works well, especially when kids are in school because they have somewhere to be. Nighttime routines can be trickier for kids. Many children do not want to go to bed at their designated "bed time". Is this a fight in your household? Here is when setting up a FUN & CONSISTENT nighttime routine will help you.

Example of a nighttime routine for a 7 year-old.
  If your child's bed time is at 8:00p.m. Your nighttime routine should begin around 7:00p.m. Start by turning off the T.V. and any other stimulation. Have your child take a bath to help him/her calm down and get clean from the long day. Don't forget to have them brush their teeth. Next is P.J. time! Let your child pick out their P.J.'s and a few of their favorite books to read. Of course I am a HUGE fan of reading at night with your kids! Cuddle up to listen to your child read aloud in their bed, your bed, or with blankets on the floor (but NOT in front of the TV). This is where the FUN part comes in...ask your child to use their imagination and think of where they might pretend they will be reading tonight? Possibly in a dark cave (under the blankets with a flashlight), or at the top of a castle with the Princess (get out a wand and crown and wear them while reading), or in the forest surrounded by animals (bring out all the stuffed animals and have your child read to them as if it were his/her audience). Make reading time FUN and EXCITING! Then it's time for bed. Lights out every night at 8:00p.m. 

If your child knows that this routine will happen every night, then hopefully you can avoid the fight at bed time. Make it exciting and something to look forward to. Most of all be apart of the routine with your child. It's a great bonding time for both of you! You might even give them the chance to arrange the order of the tasks performed in the morning and at night so that they have some ownership to these new routines!

Please share your morning/nighttime routines with us below and ideas or questions you might have about your routines? What works well or what doesn't? 


shel said...

i agree with routines. It's nice to know what to expect for the day. Looking back on the baby years, though... I can see now how I should have been more flexible when the routines or things that seem to work fine - don't seem work anymore. I guess that's life, though. Things change constantly and ya just gotta roll with it until a new routine is found and works ! (for a while, at least ;)

go boo boo said...

I agree as well, the routines have evolved, from bath, books, song, prayer, bedtime (still "works" with PJ), to shower, books, bedtime (since we all sing and pray together for PJ's sake, she kind of makes us). I am a huge advocate of 'The Read Aloud Handbook' so Andy and I take turns reading aloud with the boys at bed-time (one takes O, the other H). As a matter of fact, today I read an article from the WSJ about healthy sleep habits for kids and their effects as adults to their mental psyche, very interesting. As of yet, our kids sleep very well and still go to bed fairly early.

Heather said...

I am an advocate of routines. My family functions best when there is a schedule in place. When my kiddos were younger I was very rigid and nothing got in the way of the routine. As a result my kiddos have great bedtime habits. They also know what is expected of them in the mornings. As they have grown and are spending a giant portion of their day in a routine classrooms, I have noticed a need for flexiblity to their day. They have been with a group of children all day and more is expected of them when they get home. By the time we are done with music, dance, and homework it is time for bedtime routine to start. What happened to spontaneous play?Some days we just need to ditch the routine all together. If they have a good foundation of how to wind down they seem to bounce back into routine quickly.

teacher2mom said...

I couldn't agree with you all more, routines are nice MOST of the time. Sometimes though you have to let your guard down and roll with the punches. I think if kids know what is expected of them and that you have a schedule in place, then it is HEALTHY to have spontaneity in your life! Thanks for the comments:)