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A kids routine chart is easy to set up either as a daily schedule or weekly timetable, so everything runs smoothly, freeing up time for the important things.
This year’s coronavirus lockdowns have made everyone appreciate the importance of routine.
But even when there isn’t a pandemic, routines help kids (and adults) feel safe, secure and navigate through life’s ups and downs. Creating a kids routine chart is a simple way to visualise the goings-on of your household each week – one US study found children who had family routines were emotionally healthier and better socially adjusted than those who didn’t.
Clear schedules also establish boundaries and if they include details such as chores, they teach healthy habits and encourage independence and responsibility. Follow these steps to create an easy-to-follow daily or weekly timetable with your kids.
All families have different needs, so don’t worry if your routines are not exactly the same as everyone else’s. Getting the whole family involved in drawing up the schedule means there’s a better chance it will be followed (just make sure parents agree on the goals of the chart before discussing it with the children).
Step 1 Think about what you want your timetable to achieve. Yes, you need to get your household running smoothly, but you also need to think about the long-term goals. Do you want to make more family-time or get your kids to take on more responsibility? Factor these considerations into your schedule.
Step 2 Play to individuals’ strengths. Is one child an early riser? Perhaps they could have a shower as part of the morning routine and their siblings bathe at night.
Step 3 Make sure your schedule isn’t too rigid and can be easily adapted as kids grow and change. And don’t stress if things don’t always go according to plan – they won’t. Having kids means life is full of surprises but having a structure means, hopefully, it won’t go too far off the rails.
Hot tip Factor in fun. Including time for free play and enjoyable routines strengthens family bonds and means everyone is more likely to get on board with the schedule.
You may opt for setting up a few different timetables: one that provides an overview of the week’s activities and chores and a few that break up the daily routines, particularly the mornings and evenings. Or you may want one big, simplified chart that combines all these things.
Whatever you decide, make sure your kids routine chart is in a central place and easy for everyone to access, such as a magnetic whiteboard on the fridge. If you have younger kids, put the timetable at their eye level.
Mornings can be tough enough when you only have yourself to organise. Factor in kids and you have multiple drop-offs, meltdowns because the 2-year-old’s favourite dress is in the wash and misplaced shoes to contend with. Make your mornings calmer with a few simple strategies, like setting the alarm so you get up 15 to 30 minutes before your kids and doing as much preparation for the next day as you can the night before. Creating morning and evening schedules means your kids know what’s coming and what’s expected of them. A bedtime routine sets them up for a good night’s sleep, so decide what time you’d like them to be in bed and work back from there.
Keep your daily kids routine chart straightforward by using pictures to indicate each step for younger children. Some kids might enjoy drawing or colouring in pictures of each step (eating and brushing teeth, for instance) or you could take photos of them doing activities and print them out. You can stick stars next to steps they complete on their own. Make sure you include everything that needs to be done in the daily routine and go through each step with each child so you can tell if there is anything you need to tweak. For older kids, include their screen time and free play, as well as scheduling in homework time. Allocate bigger blocks for things like eating dinner to give your family more time for chatting before you have to move onto the washing-up or getting ready for bed.
Keeping track of the school week and after-school activities can be a full-time job. A weekly timetable lets you see at a glance which days each child has library or sport and is particularly helpful if you have more than one child at school. You can buy a ready-made timetable for kids or download the one at the bottom of this article (added bonus: kids can colour it in for extra fun). Another idea? Simply draw up a schedule on a whiteboard and use coloured sticky notes or markers, picking one colour for each child. This is also a great way to allocate chores. It’s easy to remove or move the notes around when things change. Visualising their weekly schedule also gets kids excited about one-offs like school excursions, as well as weekly treats (so long as their chores are done, of course!).