Helping parents set up a simple school night ritual for well rested and happy kids.
Whether you have kids that need to be up early for school or sporting events or just simply want happy and well-rested kids who homeschool, a routine is important.
I know a lot of parents who have kids who stay at home do not have a routine, simply because they don’t have a set time that they need to be up for in the morning, and that my friends, is a recipe for disaster.
Children who attend a school or complete homeschooling activities need that rest and re-calibration, especially after a fantastically fun summer where bedtime rules are totally broken.
So how do we get back on track?
A school night ritual.
The Importance Of Routine
Some of us adults really rely on a routine for our success while others do not. Children are a lot different and they actually thrive from daily routines.
Daily routines help children increase their confidence and independence. Knowing what to expect in our daily lives allows children to rely on past experiences in a safe environment such as learning to put on their own pajamas or grabbing a bowl of cereal. From there, they gain that independence and confidence and can start to learn to do more tasks on their own.
Self-control is also learned when routines are set into place. When a child gets unlimited screen time, they won’t know when it’s time to get off the screen and do something less fun like eat dinner, or wash up for bedtime.
Routines are also proven to reduce stress in children because routines are a reminder that they are in a secure and loving environment. Children with stability in their lives don’t have to worry about “what if” situations, which arise in the minds of all children and create anxiety.
See also: Help Your Child With School Challenges
Healthy habits are also created when routines are set in place. Things like washing hands, brushing teeth, walking to the park after dinner will all help your child develop good healthy habits that will stick with them throughout their adult life.
Creating routines for your child shouldn’t be too complex. You simply need to focus on your unique situation and your family needs. Your children’s age will also come into play when you’re creating your family routine.
Routines are very important to children and families but it is important to remain flexible and leave room for free time. This can help your child feel comfortable with change if there needs to be some.
A Simple School Night Ritual
We have a fairly strict school night routine and we always start it the same way, with a bath and a bedtime snack.
I know what you’re thinking, the kids ate dinner, why should they get a snack? Well a child with a full tummy is more likely to follow directions and fall asleep easy, so in my opinion, a bedtime snack is important. You’ll make the right decision for your own family though, you don’t have to follow MY routine.
Our routine starts at 7pm with a shower or a bath. We wash up every second evening.
7:00 – Shower/bath
7:15 – Bedtime snack
7:25 – Brush teeth, wash face, use the toilet
7:30 – Grab fresh glasses of water for the bedside table
7:35 – Read a story aloud
7:45 – Time to sleep
It’s a pretty “tight” routine, but I made it this way so there is no room for wandering around which leads to distracted kids that are impossible to round back up.
Most of the nights go according to plan but the most important thing that leads to the success of this routine is consistency.
Another thing to note is even though your children could be old enough to go through this routine on their own, you may want to be right there to supervise closely and lend a helping hand if needed. For example, brushing teeth could be a simple task but you may end up with a pretty yucky sink afterwards. If you help your child out, you can quickly wipe the sink down, making your life of keeping a clean home much less stressful.
You can assist your child with the pajamas if you like as well, but always encourage them to do things on their own, so that their confidence grows daily.
See also: Brilliant Sleep Clocks For Toddlers
Ensuring Your Little One Gets The Rest They Need
When setting up a school night ritual, you’re going to want to keep in mind the amount of sleep your child requires.
For example, according to WEBMD a 3-6 year old requires 10-12 hours of sleep per night. This means that if they are waking up at 7am for school in the morning, they should be asleep by 7pm the night before at the latest.
When To Start Preparing Your Child For Earlier School Mornings After A Long Break
After a long break from learning such as Summer or Spring break when many families take a break from routines as well, you’ll want to introduce routine back into your lives a minimum of 1 week before school starts back up.
Now you could be thinking that’s a long time, and if the children are homeschooled you may not want to start a routine at all. Routines are really important, they actually help children know what to expect from their day and this kind of structure and knowledge helps reduce tantrums and bad attitude.
The one important thing about routines is that they don’t just magically happen to change your life overnight. It may take a whole week to get your child to properly adjust to a new routine, and there could be some resistance at first from your children about the whole thing. The important thing is you don’t give up, and adjust the routine if it is truly not working out for you.
Feel free to use our nightly routine as a guide. You may need to adjust your timing that suits your needs better. We like to keep things on a tighter schedule when things need to actually get done, but it’s been successful for us for years so we won’t be changing it or relaxing the timeline on it anytime soon.