8 Ways to Implement Better Family Routines

When your children were babies and toddlers, you knew just how important routine was for all of you. They needed to eat at a certain time, nap at a certain time, and go to bed at a certain time. If anything got wonky in their routine, it could cause chaos for the whole day. Having a baby or toddler is extremely demanding, so getting them used to a routine made things a little easier.

As children grow up and enter into their teen years, life can calm down in some ways and get more hectic in others. Teens can typically find food in the house if they’re hungry, and they can manage basic life skills independently. They certainly still need your help, but they don’t need constant supervision like they used to.

Though you might have to remind them to take a shower and brush their teeth, you don’t have to physically help them with their basic hygiene anymore. Those day-to-day tasks get swapped for things like driving them to school or extracurricular activities, making sure they do their homework and a plethora of other things.

It’s easy to let go of the routines that once kept the chaos manageable when your kids were little. Even when you have teenagers, life without a routine can become overwhelming. Implementing a better family routine can help restore some calm and make everything flow a bit more smoothly.

Do family routines actually help?

The short answer is: yes, family routines do help.

Reestablishing family routines can help everyone in your home understand what is expected of them and feel more connected to one another. When everyone follows a basic routine, it’s easier to manage everyone’s schedule and remember important events.

Rather than scrambling to get everything done on time, everyone has a structure to follow to manage their responsibilities.

Children and teens with ADD or ADHD tend to do exceptionally well with family routines. Having a routine to follow takes the guesswork out of day-to-day life, so they don’t have to figure out when and how to do things.

Kids who struggle to maintain focus or think ahead often struggle when left to manage time on their own. If you help set the schedule for them, they have a framework to follow to help keep them on track.

8 Ways to implement better family routines

If your family hasn’t had a routine for a while, it can be a little awkward to get everyone on board at first. Some of your family members might not see the point of it right away. Others might want to have a better routine, but they might forget to follow it.

New routines and schedules can be tough for people, even when they want to change. Expect a little trial and error at first while you’re working out the kinks.

1. Start with a routine that’s similar to what you already do. If you make big, sweeping changes, it will be hard for everyone to keep up. Take a look at what you already do, and design your new routine around that. You can always make tweaks to the routine later once you see what works and what doesn’t work.

2. Write it down. This might seem super basic and a little juvenile, but having a written routine does help. This is especially true for families with children who struggle with remembering details. Having it written down will give you something to reference while adjusting to their new patterns.

Having a written routine can also reduce the amount you need to nag everyone about their responsibilities. If your kids keep asking you what they’re supposed to do or when they’re supposed to do it, you can tell them to check the paper.

3. Make sure that chores are fairly divided. A big problem in most chaotic households involves getting chores done. Siblings will argue about who should be doing specific chores. Or all of the chores end up falling to one parent or one kid who is responsible enough to do them independently. Or the chores just don’t get done.

When planning the family routine, split up the chores so that they’re evenly divided. You might need older siblings to do more complex tasks that the little ones can’t, but the younger siblings should still have age-appropriate chores to complete. Everyone should have a distinct role that will help the household function better overall.

4. Keep it consistent. As much as possible, keep the daily routine consistent. There might be specific day-to-day changes based on everyone’s schedule, but try to keep those changes to a minimum at first. When the routine stays the same from day to day, everyone is more likely to pick up on it and start adopting it. When it changes, you’re more likely to fall back into chaos.

5. Make the routine specific. While your family is getting used to the daily routine, it needs to be specific. Kids need to know details and specific timeframes, or they might not understand what you mean. Even if your child is a teenager, they can still struggle to follow the routine if it’s not clear.

6. Include downtime. When you’re thinking through your daily routine, it’s easy to focus on everything that needs to be done and forget to include downtime. Everyone in your family, including you, needs to have a little time to relax and disconnect from responsibilities.

The amount of downtime probably won’t be the same for everyone in the household, but it needs to happen. When creating the routine, you could also include downtime related to completing chores.

For example:

  • Once your homework is complete, you get downtime until dinner.
  • Once your chores are done on Saturday, then you can go hang out with your friends.

7. Hold to the routine. It might be tough at first, but hold everyone accountable to the routine. If you create this wonderful plan, but no one follows it, it won’t be helpful. Routines are only helpful when they’re followed. As your family adjusts to the routine and starts to follow it regularly, you should see some positive results.

8. Tweak the routine as needed. You’re not going to get it perfect the first time. You won’t get it perfect ever. As your kids keep getting older and life keeps changing, your routine will need to evolve. If you see that something isn’t working the way you’d hoped, change it. Tweak the routine as needed to make it work for your family.

If your teen’s behavior is causing chaos in your home, you might need more than a routine change. Teens who struggle with mental health problems often benefit from therapeutic intervention to learn positive life skills.

The structure of a residential therapeutic school could be exactly what your teen needs to learn how to manage his actions.

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