Healthy Habits and Routines Can Take the “Crunch” Out of the Morning Rush

July 29, 2014 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature

Finnegan Stephan, age 5, making banana bread.

Finnegan Stephan, age 5, making banana bread.

Want to cut hassles and make it easier for everyone to get off to a great start every day?   Here are some tips for great starts and happy endings.

Find a routine that works for you and your family.  Children thrive on routines. They like knowing what comes next.  A lot of hassles are eliminated when you avoid arguments about what time to go to bed and when to be dressed for school.  Routines take a lot of the stress and “chaos” away. Things can be calmer and more relaxed.

    • Set regular times for family meals, snacks,  reading (and story time) and bedtimes.
    • Plan evening routines that assure that everyone will get the amount of sleep that is just right for them.  The right amount of sleep makes our brains work better —  and makes it easier for us to learn and remember.  Aim for a calming evening routine that can get everyone in the perfect mood for good sleep
  • Infants and toddlers need about 10 hours of sleep at night, plus 3 or more hours of naps
  • School-age children need 9-11 hours    (Teens need as much sleep as toddlers!)
  • Adults need 7-8 hours
    • Checklists can be cool!  Have each child make a list of the things he or she needs to do every morning and evening. The morning list might include: Get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, make bed, pack lunch, feed dog.  Ask your child to check things off their list.
    • Build on your natural energy cycles.   People are not machines.  We’re not built to go “full tilt” from dawn to dusk.   We work best when we have periods of activity and then periods of rest and relaxation.  When you reach those times in the day when you are too tired, don’t feel guilty about not being the “perfect parent.”  None of us are. Tell your child about your lack of energy and your need to have some time to relax before you can get back to moving again.

Here are some things to consider as you “tune up” your routines:

  •  Plan time for a daily dose of quality time – a relaxed time when you can talk and really listen to each other.    Story time before bed is a natural time for getting close and snuggling.  Happy family meals make kids feel loved and connected.
    • Use this “quality time” to talk with your child. Share experiences. Accent the positive. Your child will learn key social skills — like talking and listening.
    • Enjoy each other’s company. Avoid complaining and criticizing.
Braeden Mannering, age 10, helping cook dinner.

Braeden Mannering, age 10, helping cook dinner.

  • Help everyone find daily physical activities they enjoy.  Being active makes us feel good- – and our brains work better!
    • Build activity into your routines with family chores and family walks.
    • Think up ways to have active family fun.  Family fun times are like “family glue.”
    • Limit screen time for everyone in the family to less than 2 hours a day.  Avoid screen time for children under two.  No TVs or computers in bedrooms.  Limit children’s exposure to advertising.  Children will want what is advertised – whether it is healthy or not.
    • Make it “hard” to turn on the TV and easy and fun to move.
  • What will it take for everyone to look and feel good in their clothes?
    • Looking good and feeling good in the clothes you are wearing can help you act your best.
    • Sturdy, easy-care, mix and match clothes can allow kids to pick their own outfits – and they will nearly always look great.  Save money by choosing mix and match clothes that will allow lots of possible combinations.
  • Make a “launching pad” near the door where family members can place their books and other items to be taken to work or school. Get everyone in the habit of checking the launching pad before leaving the house.
    • When it’s time for the first person in the family to leave each morning, call a quick family group hug at the “launching pad.” It’s a great way to get launched each day!
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