by Lynn Guerra, LPC
Getting into your back to school routines? Having a good routine, especially in the mornings, will help manage stress for everyone. Take some time to plan ahead whatever you can; prep homework, backpacks, lunches and snacks the night before (even better, have the kids help! It will help them feel involved and more in control of their routine.
Plan some meals for the week and have your grocery list ready. Routines help everyone, especially young children, know what to expect.
Knowing what to expect, including having reminders and discussing what’s coming next, helps keep stress levels down. If you find your routine isn’t working for some reason, or if there are always points of stress, such as hectic mornings where you find yourself yelling and rushing, it’s time to evaluate the routine. Once you are out of the situation and calm, take a close look at the routine.
Are you trying to cram too many things in a short amount of time? Too many expectations for the young children?
It can be helpful to make a large calendar that is visible and understandable for the whole family. If there are points of stress at the same time each day, take a look at what is going on right before and after to pinpoint the cause and look for solutions. Especially with young children, allow plenty of time, plan ahead and provide choices within reason. The same goes for bedtimes – bedtime and bedtime routines are just as important and can play a role in relieving morning stresses as well. Children need a lot of good, restful sleep, and need time to wind down each day without electronic and video devices. Routines are our friend – but don’t keep banging your head on a brick wall and get frustrated when your head keeps hurting.
As I’ve learned from my own hectic mornings, you can’t keep following the same frustrated loop of activities and expect change.