Establishing a Routine for Your Family

By: Mollie Shauger | Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | Healthy Living

Children brushing their teeth. Credit: iStock

In today’s busy world, routines can help families who are juggling work, school, after-school activities and the needs at home. A 50-year review of family routines published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology found that routines and rituals are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents' sense of personal identity, children's health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships.

Children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Routines help children learn self-control, reduce power struggles, and guide positive behavior, among other benefits.

Just one week of regular exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes, increase your endurance, and help you lose weight. 

Starting or restarting a routine is not easy, especially after a summer away from school and with longer days, vacations, camps and unusual schedules. 

Here are some suggestions for ways to create a routine and stick to it.

First, decide what’s important to you. 

There are certain parts of everyone’s day that are essential to their health and well-being. This could be a cup of coffee in the morning, 30 minutes of exercise, or having dinner with family. 

Determine the tasks that must get done. 

Whether it’s dropping off kids at school or child care, going to work, grocery shopping, or paying bills, these are the tasks that don’t have wiggle room.

Prioritize your needs.

The tasks that must get done come first, but it’s also important to fit in the activities that will improve your family’s health. Set aside some time to take care of yourself as well.

Keep it simple. 

The more complex a plan is, the more likely it is to fail. Also, don’t expect huge changes right away; it will take time to get everyone adjusted.

Be prepared. 

When you pick a new routine, make sure you have all the elements so you can get started faster. For example, if you plan to clean the house every Saturday morning, make sure your vacuum cleaner is working and you have all the cleaning materials.

Family members prepare a meal.

Pick habits that reinforce each other

Identify habits that are tied together so you can make a holistic change. For example, if you want to get to sleep earlier, plan to wake up earlier so you have more time to complete tasks, which then helps you go to bed on time. Or if you want to eat more dinners with family members, involve them in the preparation, which teaches them healthy eating habits.

Make it fun.

If you’re going to the gym, find a workout buddy. Have a weekly family movie night. Or try a new class by yourself, or with family members or friends. The YMCA offers an array of classes in sports, swimming, creative arts and more. Check your local branch to see what’s available that will keep the routine lively. On the weekends, take time to relax and enjoy moments with the family that aren’t centered around school or chores.

Be consistent. 

Attempt to do tasks around the same time each day, such as putting the kids to bed or setting your alarm in the morning. If you’re starting new habits like going to the gym, try to do it on your way to or from work, as most people won’t want to leave the house once they get home. 

Be prepared for interruptions.

Don’t expect everything to go as planned every day, week or month. There are always things that come up that throw your schedule off - an illness or emergency, travel, work project, etc. But be resilient and try to go back to your routine as soon as you can.

Fairview Lake YMCA Camps is a branch of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges. Visit the metroymcas.org to learn more about child care, fitness, health and other programs available at your local YMCA. Because the Y is for all, financial assistance is available to eligible families and individuals who would like to be part of the YMCA.


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