Family routines define how families organize themselves to complete tasks, spend time together, and have fun. Routines assist family members in determining who should do what, when, in what order, and how frequently. Routines also communicate to your children what is important to your family. For example, extremely special routines are sometimes referred to as rituals. These can help strengthen your family’s shared beliefs and values, as well as foster a sense of belonging and togetherness. 

Every family requires some structure to function properly. Morning routines at home can help family members feel prepared for the day and reduce stress if they rush out the front door in the morning with barely enough time to shower, dress, and grab their backpacks. Infants, teenagers, and even adults thrive when routines are established and we know what is expected of us when we must participate, and how long it will take. Routines, in other words, should be regular, predictable, and consistent. Here are four ways in which a realistic family routine can be created.

  1. Plan your meal:

Meal planning is a simple way to maintain consistency and structure in your days. You’ll be able to stick to your routine and not be stressed about what to make for dinner or not having time for breakfast if you have a plan. Prepare breakfast the night before by making smoothie packs that can be tossed and blended in under 5 minutes in the morning, or making a batch of oatmeal that can be divided out and stored in the refrigerator for a quick reheat grab-and-go option. Large batches of muffins and bread that can be frozen are also good options. Spend Sunday planning your meals for the week, drawing inspiration from your favorite websites or cookbooks. Involve your children as well.

  1. Always maintain a to-do list:

How often have you gone to the store twice in one night because you forgot something on your first trip? Make lists to save time and simplify your daily routine, allowing you to efficiently tackle everything from grocery store needs to returns and after-school tasks. Buy a magnetic notepad and stick it to the fridge, or use the notepad function on your phone. You’ll feel like a superhero as you complete tasks and cross them off your list!

  1. Ensure your kids aren’t left out:

Routines do not fit everyone, and what works for your neighbors may not work for you. If your children are sleepyheads in the morning and you have to drag them out of bed, try to complete many of the morning tasks the night before, such as packing lunches and backpacks. If you have early risers, do bath time, pack lunches, and so on in the morning. Finally, some children thrive on detailed daily schedules even when they are not in school, whereas others require a bit more latitude. Choose what is most convenient for you and your family.

When parents are unable to be present at home to greet their children after school, they must be placed in a safe and caring environment until mom, dad, or another guardian can be present. The majority of risk-taking, pranks, and juvenile delinquent behaviors among children and youth occur after school when children are unsupervised. Whether the after-school routine consists of staying at school to participate in activities, going to a grandparent’s house, or going somewhere else, children who know they have a safe and caring place to go after school will be more focused throughout the day.

  1. Use the evening for planning the next day:

Back-to-school can bring back the mornings with a vengeance. Being dressed, fed, and out the door with two, three, or more children in time for the bus can be chaotic and exhausting, two things no one wants to face before 8 a.m. Plan ahead of time by laying out your outfit, packing lunches, and placing backpacks and bags by the door to make your mornings easier.

When there’s a good family routine everyone understands their roles, knows what they need to do, and regards their roles as reasonable and fair. For example, your children are aware that they alternate washing and drying dishes each night after dinner. As children grow older, they can participate in routine planning. Routines become ingrained in family life. You might all look forward to Sunday night barbecues with your children’s grandparents, for example. Things happen in the same order every time in a good routine. Everyone is aware of the day’s events. For example, you wash school uniforms every weekend so they’re ready for Monday morning.