Winter break is just around the corner for all of the kiddos in your life, and that means it’s almost time for the holidays! While your kids are probably super excited to sleep in and not have any homework, keeping them on a regular schedule is important.
Routines are an important part of keeping your children on the right learning path. Children learn how to keep themselves organized, accomplish things they don’t want to do and properly care for themselves if parents start routines at a young age. These skills will come in handy as your child grows into a young adult and starts to take on the world.
Children learn how to safely control themselves and their surroundings when they live in a structured environment. This feeling of security fosters creativity and self-expression.
1. Get to Sleep at Night
It has been proven that regular schedules help children fall asleep more easily at night. Children who have and know their schedules whine less and don’t fight when it comes time to go to bed. When kids know what to expect as they are going to bed, it reduces unexpected stress and promotes relaxation. Even naptimes can come with a routine.
Don’t let your kids sleep in too much during winter break. Waking up around the same time every day and going to bed at the same time is a healthy habit for all family members. Sleep can become a regular habit, like hunger, if you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
People tend to sleep better in a clean and neat environment. Part of the bedtime routine can include tidying up your child’s room to create a sense of calm and organization.
2. Good Eating Habits
Eating at the same time every day not only reduces hunger-induced crabbiness but also eliminates snacking between meals. Mealtime is a good way to introduce good eating habits. Make sure that your children are eating a healthy breakfast every day. Breakfast is important for every member of your family as it improves your concentration, strength, endurance and performance. It can even lower your cholesterol and round out a healthy diet by adding in vitamins and minerals you might not get during the rest of the day.
Turning off the TV during mealtime is also an excellent eating habit for kids to develop. Families that watch TV while they eat tend to overeat. Good routines limit fast-foods, start with small portions, don’t use food as a reward and let you stop eating when you are full even if there is still food on your plate.
The holidays come with their fair share of over-eating and sugary sweets. Use this time as a good example of why it’s important to eat healthy, even when there is an abundance of options.
3. Travel with Kids
Traveling in and of itself can be stressful. Traveling with children can be a nightmare if your child is unrelaxed and uncomfortable. Bring an item that makes your child feel safe like a stuffed animal or blanket to ease that car, plane or train ride. Remember that young children do better in the morning. Plan to do the majority of your travel in the morning and use the evenings to relax.
While it may be impossible to stick to YOUR established routine while traveling to see family, creating a new routine while you go will help your kids feel more relaxed. Sleep times and mealtimes should happen at the same time every day, even if it’s different from when you are at home.
Changing time zones can cause jet lag for every member of your family. It’s still important to create a new routine based on your new time zone. If you travel from Iowa to Hawaii and your kids have a bedtime of 8 p.m., put them to bed at 8 p.m. Hawaii-time even though it’s only 4 p.m. in Iowa.
4. Winter Activities
Your kids might get a little restless being cooped up all day instead of being at school. Plan activities ahead of time to keep your little ones’ minds and bodies engaged while they’re stuck at home during winter vacation. Have a snowball fight, go sledding or build a snowman to keep them physically active and out in the fresh air. Try ice skating, building a fort or walking around the mall to keep them busy inside. To keep their minds engaged, try out math games, crafts, puzzles, science experiments and board games. Planning out a specific time each day during winter break to do an activity will become part of their routine while they are home.
5. Eliminate Anxiety in Children
The holidays sometimes create stress. When there is tension in the household, it can lead to a neglect of healthy activities for kids. Families who are on a regular schedule have reduced anxiety in general, and when problems do arise, it’s much easier to stick to a healthy routine. Your child already knows what is expected of them if the routine is consistent.
6. Screen Time Routines
Some kids can get in the habit of watching TV and movies all day during winter break. Limit screen time to 2 hours a day, even when your kids complain of being bored.
Studies have shown that children spend over 10 and a half hours a day on electronics, including watching TV on any device, listening to music, playing on a computer, playing video games and watching movies in a theater. Removing electronic devices, like TVs and video game consoles, from your child’s room can help squash some of that time spent in front of the TV. Setting up parental controls through TVs, smartphones and other devices can also cut down on the amount of time your child spends staring at a screen during winter break.
7. Back to School Routines
As it gets closer to back-to-school time, you can start preparing your kids for another change in their routine. If sleep schedules changed for your family, slowly adjust them back into the times they usually go to bed during school. If mealtime schedules changed, it’s important to adapt to those back-to-school times as well.
It’s time to get yourself and your family ready for winter break! Schedule an appointment with a doctor today for a well-child check-up and talk to your doctor about the importance of a family routine.