BLOG: Re-entering the world of routine
In France I found myself surrounded by la rentree fever, a season not only for kids but for everyone to make promises of new beginnings from la rentree diets and fashion to new hobbies and careers. It seems that everyone is filled with the excitement of ‘turning over a new leaf’ that is before they fall off the tree! For parents and kids surviving la rentree can feel quite different. New beginnings bring change which can be positive and stressful. In the next couple of blogs I am going to explore some ways that families can embrace the principles of positive parenting. These ideas can help us get back into the routine of school and take advantage of the promise of a new start.
By the the time you read this, all schools will be back and no doubt many parents will be already juggling schedules – what with getting kids up and out in the morning, overseeing homework, driving them to various extra curricular activities and dealing with inevitable meltdowns as everyone readjusts. It can all feel a bit overwhelming. A positive start to the new academic year would be to establish routines into daily family life as soon as possible. Regular routines allow children (and parents) to anticipate what will happen next. This gives them security and confidence but also a sense of control.
Bedtime routines can be particularly difficult to re-establish especially if children have been going to bed and waking up later. With older children it might be helpful to discuss how you are going to tackle this challenge. Working backwards from the time you reasonably agree that they should be in bed (preferably asleep) you can ask them for ideas about how the family can create a bedtime routine together including when the evening meal will need to be scheduled, bath time, brushing teeth, bedtime story and lights out – whatever works for your family’s needs. Involving your children in creating routines can reduce conflict and an agreed routine with approximate timings can be typed up and displayed. If you still read to your child engaging them in a new book or character is a great way to get them looking forward to bedtime and of course even older children can find this special one to one time at the end of the day relaxing. For younger children a music box/toy or a bedtime lullaby after their story can help them to get into the idea that it’s time to go to sleep. This can also help if you are juggling story time with more than one child. The most important thing about routine is to be consistent.
It’s never too early or too late to start thinking about routines with your children. A new school year brings with it the opportunity to shake it up or start anew. Talking about it as a family, creating reward charts that recognise positive behaviour, agreeing to family rules and/or expectations can all help.
Lynn Frank is a coordinator for Passage, the Parent Support Group for the English-speaking community in Luxembourg. If you would like to know more about our work contact us at email@example.com