Improve Your Family Life by Changing Your Routine
Routines can be a good thing; that’s why classrooms are built on schedules and why family dinnertime is important.
Sometimes, though, parts of your family life need a makeover, and a new year is a fantastic time to make some small changes.
Start by identifying what routine(s) needs a makeover and sit down together as a family to talk about ways you can improve the routine. Encourage input from all family members and make a pact to work together.
Here are some routines that often need improvement and ideas to make each one better:
Do mornings start with your barking at the kids multiple times to get out of bed and end with everyone scrambling out the door with a donut in hand? A few small changes are often all it takes to turn your mornings from stressful to successful.
Whitney Szczucinski, Belton mom of twins, says that prep work the night before is essential. “I make sure I lay out everything from socks to hair bows the night before,” she says.
Do everything you can to prepare for the next day: assemble outfits, put the backpacks by the door, locate your keys and pack lunches. Prepare breakfast ahead of time if possible: bake and freeze muffins for a quick thaw in the microwave, or mix up pancake batter and store in the fridge.
In the morning, make sure everyone is up in plenty of time and aware of their tasks.
Raymore mom Mary Dubray used to have a tough time getting her daughter ready in the mornings. “Then we made her a list (in order) of everything she had to do to be ready to leave. It was then her responsibility to check the list for what to do next.”
Too Much TV
There’s nothing wrong with watching a little TV here and there, but if your evenings revolve around the family camped out on the couch for several hours, it’s time to change your routine.
Too much TV time could lead to health problems like obesity, heart disease and even an early death; not only are you sedentary, but you’re probably snacking in front of the tube too.
Set a time limit of how much TV your family watches each day (say, one 30-minute program) and stick with it. Then, brainstorm how your family can better spend quality time together. Ideas include having a game night, playing outside, going bowling or joining a gym.
Do busy schedules frequently lead your family to grab a quick dinner at the burger drive-thru or pizza place? Are you eating out (or ordering in) more often than preparing a home-cooked meal?
Eating out may seem like a quick, easy option compared to fixing a meal at home, but restaurant food can shrink the wallet and fatten the waistline. With a little prep work, you can change this routine.
Take a look at your calendar each week and make plans for quick meals on nights that you know will be hectic. Throw something in the crock-pot that morning, chop up veggies and meat for a fast roll-up or make meals ahead of time and freeze them.
Your meals don’t have to be gourmet! Nutritious and cheap is easy to achieve with a little planning. And by all means, enjoy that dinner out occasionally.
In a perfect world, the kids are in bed by 8:00 so you can enjoy a little downtime at the end of your hectic day. In reality, bedtime often means tears, meltdowns and a sudden hunger/thirst/urge to potty. Pretty soon, it’s 9:00, the kids are overtired and Mom and Dad are exasperated.
Are you nodding in agreement?
I find that kids take about twice as long to do anything as I think they should. With that in mind, starting bedtime earlier can go a long way in establishing a positive routine. Set a timer to go off an hour before bed, which signals the start of the ritual. Then turn off electronics and play soft music to create the mood.
Do things in the same order each night, and build in five minutes before lights-out when kids can grab one more sip of water or run to the bathroom one more time.
Tisha Foley and her family work on their bedtime routine from their home in Belton.