With school in full swing, it may feel like an uphill battle to get kids back into a regular routine after their care-free summer vacations, but it’s not too late to get your family back on track.

While establishing a routine is vital to children’s mental and physical health, it’s also important to try not to push for a change overnight. Instead, gradually transition your kids into a routine.

Kids do better with structure and planning. They feel more in control of themselves and their lives if they know what to expect.

As you ease your kids back into a regular routine, you may experience resistance from them about going to bed earlier or sitting together at the table for dinner, but stay calm and talk to them about the importance of these changes. Managing your children’s routine is no easy task, but below are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Plan ahead. The more you can organize and plan in advance, the easier it will be to get the entire family back into a routine. Sit down on Sundays with your kids to discuss the upcoming week. This allows you to prepare them ahead of time and lets kids know what to expect for the week.
  • Reinforce their bedtime. A consistent sleep schedule is one of the most important routines for children as it affects their ability to learn at school. To get kids into a regular routine, be consistent with their bedtime and turn off electronics well before their heads hit their pillow.
  • Emphasize healthy eating routines. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and has been linked to improved concentration and performance in children. Provide healthy breakfast options for kids such as whole-grain waffles or yogurt before they leave for school. It’s also important to eat dinner together as a family and not just during the school year, but all year round. Eating together gives parents an opportunity to spend time with their children and talk about their school day without the distraction of electronics.
  • Establish a homework routine. Discuss and set expectations with children to help them manage their after-school homework assignments. Find a dedicated place free of distractions for them to complete their homework, and once they are finished, allow them to unwind.

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Lee Beers Lee Beers, MD, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and the Medical Director for Community Health and Advocacy within the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health and Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National Hospital.

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