The Importance of Daily Routines
The return to normalcy following the exhausting months of the pandemic when routines went asunder have prompted difficulties for both adults and children. So often the lack of a commute or rising early to get to school allowed many of us to fall into the habit of sleeping in later than we did when school was in-person, arriving to class via Zoom in our pajamas, and allowing us the freedom to choose how we spent our free time. This year has allowed us to get back into our old routines of rising and getting to school or work on time. Still, there are mornings I struggle to turn off the alarm and race down to the kitchen for that hot cup of coffee. Our children may feel the same as the adults and even after all these months, getting to school on time may be difficult.
With the changing of the clocks, we will need to adjust our schedules once again to adapt to the early dawn and sunset as well as the springlike temperatures. When we return from our two-week hiatus, we will need to fine-tune our routines one more time as we complete the final twelve weeks of school. Here are a few simple suggestions to keep the year rolling:
- Get a good night’s sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that children should sleep 9–12 hours per night. That is a lot of sleep! Specifically, if your child is between 3–6 years of age, they should go to bed between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. If a child is 7–12 years of age, they should go to bed between 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. I know this does not work for every family, but these ranges are suggested times for your child’s developmental growth and productivity. Families need to decide what is best for each child.
- Wake up earlier. Set the alarm to ensure everyone gets up on time. Some parents may find it helpful to rise 15 minutes ahead of their child to allow for that cup of joe to help the process go smoothly. If families are having trouble getting out of the door on time, rise 5 minutes earlier to help with the morning routine.
- Select clothes the night before. Have your child choose their outfit the night before and then stick with the outfit in the morning. Be sure they include socks and shoes as well. This will reduce time choosing their clothes when they wake and are not fully alert and it will teach them independence.
- Assemble backpacks and lunchboxes the night before. After your child completes homework (and even if they have no homework), no matter the age, have them help you pack their bags. As they get older, you can oversee the process until they no longer need your assistance. Your child can help put some of the pieces of their lunch together, so it is a matter of making sandwiches in the morning and placing everything in the lunchbox. One additional step to help with a smooth exit is to line up materials at the departure door—backpack, shoes, and whatever additional materials they might need. Place the lunchbox with their backpack while they are brushing their teeth. It will become a habitual grab-and-go activity.
- Pack the car and go. Even giving thought to where your child’s items are placed in the car if they are driven is important. Your child should know where everything is so as they exit the car, they take all their possessions with them. If your child walks to school, placing materials by scooters and carriages will help.
When your child arrives to school on time, it helps them to settle in more quickly because it reduces classroom interruptions and distractions, permitting the teacher to focus on teaching. They have more time to socialize with their classmates prior to lessons commencing and settling in their chairs.
The art of creating daily routines is part of the learning process. Your child will be ready to learn and actively participate if they arrive on time with their materials in tow. This will result in less stress and a happier child.
Until next time…
B.J. Cataldo, Ed.D.