We all know the importance of routines for children. How often do we actually stick to a routine for the majority of our days though?
Children thrive on routine! I have seen it in my own girls. Now I am not super strict with keeping them in a routine, but if we are home, without visitors, we follow our basic routine. This routine works for us on Saturdays and weekdays. During the school term and on school holidays.
Our girls have always gone to bed at the same time as each other, ever since they were babies. They share a bedroom, so, well, it is just easier that way 🙂 Even though there are four years between our oldest and youngest, they still go to bed at the same time. Often, my oldest will wake earlier than the others. She is beginning to enjoy the early morning quiet before the household is awake, just like her mama. And some nights, my youngest will fall asleep while her older sisters are reading in bed. So even though they go to bed at the same time, in the same room, they still manage to get the correct amount of hours sleep their individual body needs.
- First I start with knowing how many sleeping hours they need. For most children that is around 10 hours per night. I don't set sleep and wake times, just yet though.
- Next I decide upon meal times. I work out what time I need to have breakfast ready for my husband to eat before he leaves home for work each day. I like the girls to have breakfast then too, that way they get to see Daddy before he leaves, and I don't have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing breakfasts as each person wakes.
- Dinner is usually served soon after he arrives home.
- Lunch times have changed over the years. When I had a toddler and was pregnant, we had lunch at 11am, that is what suited our routine back then. Then our lunch moved to midday, then it was 12:30pm for years. I like to have the majority of school completed before lunch time. So now our lunch is at 1pm, this gives us the optimal morning hours to complete our school.
- We are usually hungry for a snack a few hours after breakfast, and this is a good mid morning break from our studies.
- We used to have a set time for our afternoon snack, when they were little that was at 3pm or 3:30pm, when Playschool was on. Nowadays, we don't have a set time, just when hunger strikes, as long as it is not too close to dinner or too soon after lunch.
So our meal times look something like this:
- Breakfast 6:30am
- Morning tea 10am
- Lunch 1pm
- Afternoon tea 4pm
- Dinner 6:00pm
We rarely follow these times exactly (we could be eating half an hour either side of these times), but they are approximate times that we work around. I find that if we stick to these times, our days flow so much better. Otherwise, just when we settle down to cover maths or a reading lesson, someone will be hungry. Having approximate times for meals and snacking, stops interruptions and helps to keep everyone focused (because everyone knows that, for example, right after maths we can have a morning snack).
I have two times in the day that my girls help out around the house, morning and evening.
Their morning routine starts as soon as they wake and takes less than half an hour to complete, if they are diligent and don't give in to dawdling 😉 This includes getting dressed and making their bed.
Their afternoon routine is similar, I call them to begin their routine half an hour before dinner. This includes cleaning up from the day.
Outside and Quiet Reading
We have a quiet reading half hour that always happens immediately after lunch. This time began as nap time when my girls were younger.
We are usually outside in the afternoon hours, when they were little though, we could easily spend an hour or two of our mornings outside.
Evening Family Time
Then it is time for dinner and relax for the evening with the family. We will play a game or read the next chapter in our family read aloud or most nights do both. It's then time for bed with the girls reading for around half an hour, before lights out.
Pulling It All Together
When children go to school, families are forced into a routine for the day. Getting ready for school, after school activities, bed routine. For homeschoolers, it can be easy to just go with the ebb and flow. Routine is important however, and children thrive on routine. I am not referring to scheduling their every waking moment, just develop a basic routine for your days.
Once you know how many hours sleep your children need, and you know your approximate meal times, you can then work out what time they need to be getting up in the morning. Then you can decide on their 'lights out' time, and allow an hour or so for a bedtime routine that leads up to that time.
Having a simple routine and being consistent with the things that are required every day, makes a huge difference in having a peaceful flow to our days, and allows us to accomplish so much more.