Routines and expectations are a big part of teaching your children. Routines help you have a calm, peaceful feeling in your home. Plus kids respond well to order and structure. I’ve always enjoyed planning and knowing what comes next. Our kids are the same way. We have established several family routines. It is also so important that kids develop their own independent routines. We are after all trying to help them become self sufficient. Routines will really help them learn so many life skills.
Bedtime Routines and Sleep. This one has to go first because I feel like it is one of the most important routines! I was surprised when my pediatrician told me my 12 year old son should get 10-12 hours of sleep a night! ‘s a lot for a teenager. It seems like of all of our routines, this is a continual challenge for us to get them to bed at a decent time. But I have seen that when my kids are getting enough sleep, it makes a huge impact on my kids and their moods, success in school, getting along with each other, having great health, etc. I have also seen what happens when my kids don’t sleep enough, YIKES! (Hello, Girl’s Camp)! It really does have a major impact on everything else around us.
Are your kids getting enough sleep? Check out my post about sleep. What bedtime routines have you established as a family and your kids individually? Here are a few of our favorite nightly routines.
- Family Scripture Study, sing a hymn, and have family prayer.
- We hug and kiss each other after the prayer and say “I love you”.
- All of the kids get showered, put jammies on, brush their teeth, and do their individual bedtime preparations. (My daughter takes at least an hour to get ready for bed).
- When they are ready to climb in bed they holler for us to come.
- We tuck them in and give them a kiss and turn out their lights. (Yes-we still do this even though they are growing up.)
My husband started tucking them in when they were little. He used to read them each a story too. The routine of tucking them in stuck and continues still. The kids look forward to it. I feel like all these steps in our nightly routine help them settle down and get ready for bed. Now with all of the crazy activities in our life, it is a challenge to get them into bed before 10 even though we start this process between 8-9. It is worth the effort though because these routines will help your family so much in the long run!
We set up some rules for the kids in their early years of life. I always say the earlier the better! Start the routines now. You have to be more strict when they are little so that they can establish good routines that will stay with them throughout their lives.
- Our kids were not allowed to sleep in our room (even though many times they begged us).
- Our kids were not allowed to come into our room until after 7:00 AM. (Yes, we actually had one child that we had to teach to look at the clock and not come in until then) unless it’s an emergency.
- If the kids had a bad dream (like spiders all over) I would go sit on their floor until they calmed down and could fall back asleep. It was really hard to do that back then-I was so tired! But I am so grateful I did because now they are all used to sleeping in their beds and not mine.
- My kids have nightlights in the hallway. There is nothing worse than trying to find your way in the dark. Originally they started in their rooms and eventually we moved them to the hall.
- Calming music (Like hymns or symphony music) really helps them calm down and fall asleep.
- Teach them to pray as soon as possible. Prayer is so important and will help them so much! Start first by having them repeat you, then teach them the pattern of prayer so they can say their own prayers from their hearts. Here’s my post about prayer. Prayer will bless your family!
- Give them a bath before bed. This was a great way to calm them down and help them know it was time for bed. My kids still take showers every day (because who wants stinky kids?).
- My kids didn’t sleep through the night until about 4 months. I tried to make the feedings go a little longer each night until finally they made it 8 hours and then longer! YAY!
Eating habits. Eat dinner together every night if possible. This is so important for developing relationships with each other. We have bonded so often while talking, laughing, and eating together. Here are some conversation starters to get you going. Plus, eating together at home will save a lot of money and be healthier as you plan out your meals in advance and try making them from scratch. Win-Win! Also, have set times for eating so the kids don’t graze on junk food all day. My kids get a snack after school. I have a snack bin in the fridge and pantry with healthier snacks in it so if they get hungry there are healthier, more filling choices. It’s always a work in progress trying to teach them to develop good habits that will stick with them throughout their lives.
Quality family time together. The best thing to do is spend time together as a family. Some of our favorite times include:
- Prayer. We pray every morning and night together. There is added friendship and unity when you kneel together and you hear a family member pray for you by name. Prayer can mend fences and build relationships that will last forever. I’ve heard it said, “A day hemmed with prayer is less likely to unravel”. I have seen this in our life. Things just go better when you ask the Lord to be a part of it!
- Family Council. We try to do this once a week. We sit down and discuss family issues, manners, and social skills before they become too big. We also talk about ongoing events or other things going on. Sometimes we do this during our lesson or during dinner time.
- Family scripture study and a lesson. We alternate who teaches a lesson from the scriptures once a week. We always share our testimonies of the topic at the end. This is such a great way to bring the spirit into our home.
- Family night. We try to do something fun together on Monday night. Sometimes we try to go on a hike, go outdoors, or find service opportunities. Even if it is playing games or watching a movie at home we still have fun. Every Monday is “sacred” to us and we make sure whatever we do, it is spent together.
- Family Fun. We try to find activities to do on the weekends together as a family. We love the outdoors, going to plays and concerts, exploring new places, and even just going on a family walk or bike ride. The point is to go have fun together and make memories that will last and help you be more unified together.
Homework Routines. I have to put this on here because the kids need to know when they should do their homework, where they can do it, and who can help them if they get stuck. When they were little we always did it right after school. I sat with them and helped some and read books together. Getting them in the habit of doing homework right after school really stuck and 12 years later they now do it without me beside them. Time right after school is for homework. As soon as they get home, they start on it. Electronics and TV are not allowed during that time because it is such a distraction to them. Also, they have to let me know of any big assignments that they will need my help for or we need to buy materials. It’s great to plan those out as well.
Sunday Routines. Sunday is a busy day for us. We go to church, eat lunch, have a family lesson, and go visit both sets of grandparents. As a child, we visited my Grandma every week. Visiting her consistently helped me grow to love her. I have seen my children grow to love and appreciate their grandparents in a similar way as they have spent a lot of time with them each Sunday. If time allows, my kids love to pull out family videos of when they were little. It is so much fun to remember those little years!
These are just a few of our routines. My kids have really excelled having set expectations and routines. It has given our home order and strength. I know it can help you too as you try to establish routines in your home as well. Keep at it! You can do it and it will be worth it!