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7 Tips for Establishing Family Routines That Work


I’m sure the word “peaceful” is the way you would describe your family’s mornings, afternoons, and evenings, right? There is never any, “Hurry up! We’re going to be late!” No yelling. No pushback from the kids. Everyone always does what needs to be done before anything else, and without being asked. Right? 

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that’s a no! Don’t worry though, you’re not alone! 



Why routines are important for families


I used to have no idea where to begin when it came to creating routines, for anything! I wasn’t even sure I wanted any. It seemed like something boring families did, and I was in complete denial about just how hectic our days were. 

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until after I began seeking God more in my life, and in my role as a parent, that I began seeing the need for more stability in our home. I began to see the connection that structure actually had with stewarding my family well.


Kids need structure.


You know how when you leave to go somewhere, there’s always that back seat voice asking, “Are we there yet?” There’s a need within them to know what to expect, to know where they are headed, and when they can anticipate getting there. Kids thrive in structure. They feel safe in knowing what’s next. Varying bedtimes are hard for kids. Not knowing what to expect out of a day, or a morning or night can be hard for kids as well. Having routines in place doesn’t mean there won’t ever be pushback, complaining, or disobedience. Of course they want to see how much they can get away with. It’s in the consistency of these expectations though, that they feel a sense of love, comfort, and safety. On top of that, it teaches them to do things that are most important first. It builds character. They learn how to take responsibility for their role in the family and for themselves. 

For families who have kids that go back and forth between homes, knowing there is structure when they are with you, lets them feel safe and secure. You can’t control what goes on when they aren’t with you; but you can control what it looks like when they are.


Parents need structure.


As a parent, there is a lot going on each day. Having specific routines in place relieves stress, takes away from constant decision making, and ensures everyone is able to get important things done. When life gets chaotic, oftentimes, so do our emotions. When the pressure is on, we often react, taking our frustration out on our kids because they aren’t going fast enough or they didn’t do something we thought they should’ve or in the way they should have. When specifics aren’t laid out and if there isn't consistency from day to day, it often pushes unrealistic expectations on kids, that they won’t be able to meet. Creating and implementing routines may not sound fun, but it will create peace and healthy relationships in the home! 


What routines should be created?


Daily routines for each family can be different. Generally speaking, the most common routines that help make the day go smoother are morning routines, afternoon (or after school) routines, and bedtime routines. The best way to gauge what your family needs is to look at the times of day that are most chaotic, or where there is a gap in time that structure can help make it go smoother. 


Tips for creating routines


Summers usually look different than the school year, and daily routines should be adjusted accordingly. Here are seven simple steps for creating and implementing routines that will work for your family!


1. Decide what routines your family needs.


Whether your kids school from home or go to a public or private school, a morning routine is important! We have all experienced hectic mornings where we likely didn’t show love and patience as we should’ve, and everyone ends up starting their day flustered and out of sorts. This should not be the norm. 

An afternoon routine may be an important one for your family as well, so that they know what to expect when school is over. This can be a busy time, whether they have practices, homework, responsibilities, or just want to get some energy out after being in class. 

Bedtime routine is another one you will want to create for your family. Kids need good sleep for their minds and bodies to function well. We know this to be true for us too! 


2. Create a written schedule for each.


Deciding to create structure isn’t enough. There needs to be a written plan that everyone can follow. What time do you want them to begin getting ready for bed? Who needs a shower? Lights out at what time? Younger kids may have earlier bedtimes than some of your other kids. Your younger kids may need more specifics in the schedule than your older kids. For example, for older kids and teens you may just say to get ready for bed; but with your littles, you may need to say what that looks like for them. Take little things like that into consideration when writing out a schedule. Here is an example of our bedtime routine. 

8:15 pm - Get ready for bed

8:30 pm - Read, draw, or journal quietly in bed

9:00 pm - Pray together

9:30 pm - Lights Out

This is for all of my kids, except for my youngest. When we say it’s time to get ready for bed, they know what to do. So for us, this is all I need to write on our bedtime schedule. It may look different for some kids. You may need to put a couple pictures on there or write out what you want them to do in each. For example, you may need to put - Set out clothes for school tomorrow. Put on pajamas. Brush teeth. And so on…

Don’t overthink it. Just write out what you want them to do, what would make things go smoother, and then implement it. You can always adjust as needed.


3. Talk through each of them with your family.


Make sure everyone understands the schedule and what their role is in each routine. Throwing a schedule up on the wall and assuming kids will do what they are supposed to isn’t going to work well. Go through it together and make sure they understand.


4. Post them where everyone can see them.


Find a good place to hang the schedules so that everyone can see and access them easily. This can be on the front or side of the fridge, a section of a wall designated for the routines, or wherever is best for your family that everyone can see and get to easily.


5. Habits take time.


We know that habits take time, so will implementing a new schedule. Be okay with adjusting if necessary, and be patient. Don’t give up on the process of creating, implementing, and adjusting where needed! It’s not easy, but it’s also not as hard as it may seem. It’s so worth it too, whether your kids are toddlers, kids, or teens.


6. Be consistent.


This will only work well if you are consistent. Your kids may not want to follow for a while. In the long run, they will be grateful for it and so will you! They may not realize it’s structure they needed, but they will absolutely feel a sense of security and love from you. You will begin to see more peace in your home. There will be less arguing and fighting due to rushing and chaos. There will be more laughing, time for praying as a family, and relationship building.


7. Prepare for days when the schedule is different.


Don’t leave this step out when preparing routines. Of course there will be days that something comes up and changes the schedule. There will be appointments, sports games, and other things that come up. That’s life, and we love some of those things! My suggestion for this is just be as consistent as possible at keeping a routine for nights like those. For example, when we are out late for a game, I remind the kids on the way home, what they need to do immediately when we get there. This reminds them of the expectations and keeps the evening from being total chaos upon arrival back home. It could be as simple as telling them to go straight in and get ready for bed. Be ready in x amount of time. Or it can be more detailed, depending on your kids’ ages. Example: Go in and take a shower (If they just finished a game). Grab a quick snack and then brush your teeth. This will set the mood of the evening before even getting home. 

It doesn’t matter how young or old they are. Even teens need to have expectations laid out for them. This sets them up for success in the real world. There is a generation of young adults nowadays that think they are entitled, that they don’t need to do anything, and that the world owes them. When raising kingdom impacters, we need to steward our role well. We need to train our kids in the way they should go. That won’t happen overnight; and it won’t happen without expectations and effort on our part to create a home environment conducive to growth in leadership, relationship, and life skills.


Don’t forget to consider….


Technology is definitely something to think about when creating a schedule. Something we implemented a few years back is to not allow video games on school nights. From Sunday after 5:00 to Friday after school, they aren’t allowed to play video games. That doesn’t mean the weekends are free for all. This allows them to be off of screens and focus on other things. We do allow TV, but not all the time or whenever they want. In doing this, we have learned so much! Of course our kids didn’t like it at first. I’m sure they wouldn’t choose that option still. However, it’s our job as parents to do what’s in their best interest, even though they aren’t always going to like all of our decisions. 

When we made this rule during the school year, they began playing together more, becoming creative again; and we got to see our kids be kids. Even our teen was enjoying more of the world and of his siblings than he was when his face was in video games all the time. That seems to be missing a lot more these days. We found ourselves spending more family time together, and we grew closer throughout the school year. We allow video games on the weekdays in the summer, and really notice a difference. It’s amazing how much video games and media time affect people, even as adults. 

Pray over this idea as you are creating routines; and ask the Lord to bless your family this year, as you work towards creating a healthier home environment conducive for growth and for better relationships.

What are some routines that work well for your family?




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