By Lisa Tait, Healthy Families Home Visitor McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association
September means back to school for most kids, and with it comes the transition into new routines. Even if your children aren’t in school yet fall is a wonderful time to change things up, form new habits, and tackle those routines that keep your household moving. Children thrive in an environment where things are consistent and predictable, but as parents, you know how difficult it can be to ensure that. Luckily there are a few tricks for successful implementation of a new routine:
1. Start small – A complete overhaul of your daily routine is overwhelming, can cause frustrations, and is hard to enforce. Your best bet for success is to choose a time of day where structure already exists, such as bedtime or in the mornings, and add one or two new actions to the things your child already does. Once the new action has been incorporated into their daily routine you can try to add another one or two.
2. Get everyone onboard – Creating a routine where kids have a say will encourage them to stick with it, but that doesn’t mean it has to be at the sacrifice of the parent’s intentions. For example, if you have three new actions you’d ideally like to incorporate into your child’s bedtime routine, start off by giving them the option of choosing one out of the three to add. Parent’s win because one of the three will get done, and kids win because they have a sense of control over their new routine. Keep the momentum up by making it fun and visual by creating a chart or by using picture cards posted in a space your child will see it.
3. Set yourself up for an easy win – Parenting is hard enough, we don’t need one more item on our never-ending to-do list or one more argument, so set up your new daily routine with a couple easy wins. For example, if you’d like your child to start making their bed in the morning, create a chart that also includes things like wake up, eat breakfast, and get dressed- or whatever actions your child already does without prompting. You’re sure to have at least few items checked off the list and a positive start to the day. Seeing things checked off the routine list with minimal effort will be a boost for you child and for you as well.
If you’d like to learn more about creating routines for success Healthy Families, Connections, and Parent Link are hosting a free workshop on Sept. 15. Parent Link will be providing free childcare and parents will go home with tools for implementing new routines, such as brightly coloured routine cards and a new bedtime book. Check their Facebook pages for more information and to pre-register.