Starting new things or changing routine will often create a bit of chaos and the sense of a lack of control. Believe it or not, this chaos is an essential part of growing for kids and for their parents. Chaos pushes us to look at our situation differently. You may have heard that “out of chaos, comes order.” Finding and feeling your family’s rhythm can help you move through the chaos with a better sense of control.
Practice these 4 Drills to help your family find some rhythm:
Drill #1: Evening/Bedtime Routines
· Determine an appropriate bedtime for your child(ren).
· Start the process about an hour before. “Bedtime” means in bed, lights out, drifting off to sleep.
· Avoid stimulating activities an hour before bedtime, especially screen time.
· 10 minutes to lights out: This is the “ritual” time of your bedtime routine: read a book, sing a song or two, or just talk about the day. These moments before lights out are typically the most important and most meaningful to your child(ren), so make sure you create something that is important and meaningful to you.
Drill #2: Family Mealtimes
· To start, establish one time during the week to regularly sit down to a meal together with your family. It can be any meal of the day, any day of week. Add opportunities to share meals together as you get accustomed.
· Invite the children to participate in the preparation of the meal. Allow them to set the table and clear dishes after the meal.
· Prepare one meal for the entire family. Making different foods for picky-eaters will only perpetuate the problem.
Drill #3: Keep a family calendar
· Hang a calendar somewhere in the house that is easily accessible and easily seen by the whole family.
· Put any events/activities that affect all or part of the family on the calendar.
· Refer to the calendar regularly. As children get older, encourage them to add their own activities/events to the calendar.
Drill #4: Family Meetings (this drill builds on drills #2 & #3)
· Designate one of your shared mealtimes as your Family Meeting.
· Go around the table and share….. Model and encourage the sharing of one good thing and one not-so-good thing from the day or week. Your family can come up with a name for this part…. Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, or Warm Fuzzy/Cold Prickly… Don’t try to problem-solve. Just share and listen.
· Check the calendar. Talk about the activities for the week and any special responsibilities. Add events that are missing.
· End the meeting with a fun family activity! (Puzzle, Mad Libs, storytelling, or even watching a favorite program.)
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