Summer vacation. Christmas break. Family road trips. There are so many fun times in life when we throw the normal schedule to the wind and embrace the love and laughter of an unstructured season.
And sometimes it can be something not fun, but an unexpected hospital stay or another emergency. These things definitely mess up the routine!
But either way, once life has settled a bit, it really is important to get back into a routine.
Routines help our kids know what to expect. And that helps improve behavior and reduce childhood stress. Kids really do thrive with routines and boundaries.
But sometimes trying to get back into a routine is hard.
When life is schedule-less and free, the kids got used to playing more. And maybe even enjoyed some extra screen time. They don’t always appreciate going back to the routine, even though it’s better for the whole family.
To help you push past the whining and get back into your normal routine, here are five practical tips.
1. Cut Back the Screen Time
Maybe I’m the only one struggling in this area, but it seems like whenever we’re out of routine, the TV is on. And it’s not just the TV. The Wii is getting played. The kids are asking for iPad time. And they’re playing on computers.
Screen time is easy to overdo, especially when you don’t have your normal routines in place and you’re more or less “vegging.”
Cutting back screen time is one way we get back into a routine. When we’re on routine, our kids get the computer for school. The TV stays off until after quiet time. And there’s no playing on screens unless it’s that kids’ day of the week. (On their day they each get 1/2 hour to use on the computer or Wii.)
We are so much more productive when we aren’t staring at screens!
2. Incorporate Some Fun into the Routine
When we’re easing back into a routine, we typically make it a point to work fun into the day. That way the kids aren’t going from having loads of fun together to all work all day. 😀
They appreciate it.
Think of something that you can include, and then tell your kids about it. It gives them something to look forward to!
And we discuss our something fun in the morning meeting that day. When the fun is in our Plan of the Day, everyone remembers that after we do school (or chores) it’s time for that fun. Motivators like scheduled fun can be powerful.
3. Take it Slowly
It might be impossible to jump completely into a schedule after an extended break. Easing back might be best. Perhaps you schedule just your morning, or until 3:00. Then, you can enjoy more free time.
Don’t feel like you have to do everything the first day back.
There’s something to be said about giving yourself a transition. For instance, after we get home from a weekend traveling on deputation, I know that Tuesdays are going to be our transition day. We’ll do about half our normal routine, and half trying to get laundry and everything caught up from being gone.
Then Wednesday is full-steam ahead into the typical routine.
That slow transition helps so much. Everyone is less stressed and we aren’t constantly feeling behind because I scheduled too much for a transition day.
4. Give and Receive Grace
Getting back into a routine can be challenging for everyone. Be gracious, and give yourself grace. You will eventually find normal again, and you don’t want to regret something you did or said trying to get there.
A quick whispered prayer for wisdom and patience can help so much.
5. Plan on Reteaching a Bit
After breaks (especially extended ones) my kids seem to forget things they never had a problem with before.
One of my kids seemed to forget what it means to “do morning chores” after coming back from a trip.
Another went backwards in math over summer break and we had to review quite a bit more than I was expected.
Whether you’re talking about homeschooling or life, dedicate some extra time to offer reteaching if needed.
Love On the Kids as You Get Back into a Routine
Change is hard! So is doing work when you’re used to playing. As you get back into a routine, make sure to love on your kids. Compliment them for making the bed nicely. Thank them for getting water for their little sibling. Give them random hugs.
The first day back (probably the first week) won’t be pretty. It’ll be challenging. So just keep loving on the kids. Remember you are helping them learn to do good. It can just be a bit messy in the process!
Do you have any tips for getting back into a routine after a break? I’d love to hear your advice in the comments.