The new Mighty Mommy has expert tips on how to make your family life easier by implementing rock solid routines.
Step #4: Bedtime Routines
At one point, my husband and I had 4 children under the age of 3. The only thing that gave us any sense of normalcy at all during those crazy years was our bedtime routine. Younger children need to know that they will be going to bed at the same time every night. Parents who get into the bad habit of letting their young ones run the show, often don’t have any personal time of their own to unwind at the end of a long day.
Remember: You run the show. So select your bedtime and work backwards. If you decide 7:30 PM is when you want your toddlers to go to bed, figure that you will want to get started an hour before the bedtime. At 6:30 give a gentle reminder that bedtime will be happening in about an hour and that they need to finish up playing with their toys. A few minutes later announce “clean up” time and get your cherubs in the habit of picking up the playroom before they go to bed.
If they are school-aged or you work and drop them off at daycare early in the morning, establish a routine for getting their outfits, backpacks, snacks or lunches for the next day ready the night before. Next, oversee teeth brushing, going to the bathroom, PJs, and then you can have some quiet time together reading their favorite bedtime story or just snuggling and talking. When younger kids have your undivided attention at the end of their long day, it gives them a sense of security that all is right in their world.
Likewise, with older children, decide on a bedtime for school nights and plan backwards from there. If bedtime for your 15-year-old is 10 PM, homework, outfits, lunches, showers, personal care, and cleaning up their bedroom (no, I’m not kidding—even if they put some of their clothes away it’s a help), that should all be done by 9:30 PM. Your teens need your attention before bedtime as well. Although you may not be reading to them any longer, you should try and get them to talk about their day, what happened in band or sports practice, or anything else that they may want to discuss. If you get into the routine of connecting with them on a very regular basis, they’ll know they can count on you when they really need to talk about something important.
Step #5: Your Personal Routines
Don’t forget about yourself when it comes to establishing routines. Parents need to build in time for their needs as well. I find it helps to get up at least 30 minutes before my kids wake up so that I can have a few quiet moments to myself before the day takes off. Every day after the kids leave for school I throw in the laundry, load the breakfast dishes, and do a quick tidy. Next, I take a 45-minute walk or play an exercise tape. That leaves the rest of the day open for work, errands, appointments, etc. If I don’t schedule my own personal time each day, guess what—I won’t have any!
I hope these tips on creating routines will help you and your family simplify and enjoy life a little more. Remember: routines don’t happen overnight, they need to be established and then consistently maintained. Make a list of how you’d like to see your days flow and then build your routines around that. Your routines will soon become your secret weapon, too!
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Good luck and happy parenting!
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