BLOG: Re-entering the world of routine

I don’t know about you but I have always found that getting back into the swing of things after the long Summer holidays a challenge. I feel a little like I’m returning to Earth’s orbit with a bump after drifting around in outer space. So I guess the French word for back to school – la rentree (re-entry) is really rather fitting. Having lived in France I enjoy the whole idea of la rentree. In the UK we make New Year’s resolutions – promises to ourselves to go to the gym, eat more healthily and give up all our bad habits hurriedly on December 31st.

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.

The (re)introduction of morning and bedtime routines can help the whole family. Children need to know what is expected of them and parents need to be clear about how they can achieve this. Beyond being told what to do, children need to be shown. For example parents can help children in their morning routine by organising with them everything that they need to get ready for school. My oldest child has a drawer under his bed with all his school clothes in it (including underwear) and my youngest child has a peg board with the clothes she has chosen the night before at her height. Younger children may need extra help but usually respond well to the familiarity of a routine and generally become independent more quickly. Taking them through their routine and even photographing it and sticking it on their bedroom wall can be a fun way to remind them. If your child has afternoon activities and/or a homework schedule it’s a good idea to display these in a prominent place. I have found it useful to bring all this information into one chart for the kitchen which includes all extra curricular activities for the week, home work schedules and planned free time/play dates.

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.

Next month I will be exploring star charts and reward systems as techniques to promote positive behaviour. If you have any questions about this article or would like to tell me your positive or not so positive experience of using star charts or reward systems please contact me on


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