Back-to-School Tips – Setting Up Family Routines

Back-to-School time!

How do you help young people get back into the swing of a structured school day as summer fades away? No one likes to nag their kids to wake up, and just getting out the door on time can result in power struggles. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone! Here are a few tips to ease the transition back to school.


Reintroducing Routines

Family routines and structure help parents and young people alike. Kids feel safe and secure because they know what to expect, and parents feel confident because they know how to consistently respond to behavior surprises and challenges. Predictability lessens stress and increases the feeling of connection for the whole family.

For example, you could create an evening routine of picking out school clothes and preparing backpacks can help lessen stress in the morning rush.  The CDC offers some additional tips to reintroduce routines in your home.


Co-Create Routines with Your Child

morning routine chart
Raymond and Olivia are Program Director Stacy Lappin’s oldest two children. She shared their morning routine chart from their elementary school days.

When you include their ideas and opinions in their creation, young people are much more apt to follow routines. Here’s a script to try if getting out of the door in the morning is challenging.  Ask your child(ren) for their opinion by saying something like:

          “I’m noticing that there always seems to be a last-minute rush in the morning. By the time you make it out the door, I’m nagging you, and we are both stressed. Can we figure something out, so we have more time together and you make it out the door without the stress?”

Brainstorm a list of things together that would help all of you in the morning. That might include you getting up earlier, so you have a few moments of undivided time with your child(ren).

Once you have co-created a routine together, let the routine be the boss. Co-create a wall chart. Then, instead of saying, “It is time for breakfast,” you can ask, “What is next on your chart?” Shifting the power over the routine to the young person means less pushback and provides helpful modeling.


Encourage Independence

Are you doing things for your child that they could do for themselves? It may feel easier and quicker to make your child’s bed or help them get dressed. But that takes away the opportunity for your child to learn how to do basic tasks. Many parents are anxious that their child simply cannot manage these tasks, which invites the child also to believe that they are not competent. Start small by slowly handing off tasks for your child to complete independently and write them into the routine.


Research Backs It Up

While getting into the flow of a routine can be tricky to start, research like that cited in this blog post shows that consistently completing tasks in the same order builds brain power and supports mental health.

The multiple benefits from creating and sticking to routines make it worth a try. The rhythm of routines is an effective way to lessen stress for the whole family.


Kayla Blau is a Sound Discipline Facilitator