Creating routines provides children with goals they can achieve.
I don’t know of any family who hasn’t had the “Hurry Up!” conversation/discussion/argument/yelling match – call it what you like but getting children and adults organised in the morning and at the place they need to be can be very stressful!!!! I have found that as my children get older and have to take more responsibility for their organisation it has got easier, but don’t get me wrong, we still have THAT morning every so often.
Over the years I have used a myriad of tactics, strategies and reward systems in order to make the transition from home to school that little bit easier. At the moment all that is needed is an A5 piece of paper of jobs to done before school and jobs to be done after school. I have to admit my children are pretty good at before school, but not so good at the afternoon list, to the point where I removed the ‘privilege’ of oldest child bringing the notes home and requested that they be sent home with the youngest.
Routine allows us to develop habits and to know what is expected of us. Whilst some may think of routine as boring, without it I know I would be drowning in a mountain of disorganised chaos every weekday morning. My own routine includes a walk, a yoga workout and after that I proceed to wake the children and their morning routines begin. As part of their routine they also need to make their own lunch, a job they have done since they were in year 2. Often when I am on yard duty a small child will come to me with their sandwich and say “I don’t like (fill in the gap…..peanut butter, vegemite, cheese), my response to them it “You need to tell whoever makes your sandwiches” and I promptly tell them to eat up. My children make their own lunches and I provide a variety of healthy options for them and occasionally they may even get a treat. Not only is this part of their routine but they are responsible for what they are eating and have ownership of it, and the best part, I gave up making school lunches two years ago! Many people I share this with are often taken aback and worry what their children would put in their lunchboxes if given the opportunity – my children only have healthy options and through routine they know what is acceptable to put in their school lunches.
One idea that I recommend to parents who are struggling with developing routines for the morning is a visual chart. One of the most effective I used when my children were younger had pictures of what they needed to do on one side and once they had done the job they physically needed to move the picture across to the ‘done’ side, this shows them visually that they have achieved their jobs. Pictures you might like to include could be a bed, a toothbrush, breakfast, uniform, packed bag and the one that still continues to elude our household – shoes!
By initiating a routine for getting organised for school you are giving your children a purpose and making them feel settled and a useful part of the family. Routine allows children to connect to their family and of course makes everyone’s life easier.