Mom and kids getting ready in the morning.

Back-to-school is a big time of change for families. Kids are getting back into the swing of things after a long summer break, and parents are juggling work, school, and other commitments. This can be a stressful time, but it can also be an opportunity to reset your family’s daily routine and set yourselves up for success.

Maybe mornings are chaos, and you can never get out the door on time. Maybe you’re tired of using screen time to motivate your kids to get ready for school.

Whatever challenge it may be, you know the routine needs to change if you want smoother mornings and relaxing evenings.

Not everyone is a fan of changing their routine and you might get some pushback, especially from the kids. Thankfully, there are ways to get your family on board to a better routine.

Here are the steps to make that happen.

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Step 1: Communicate the Plan

Gather the family to discuss changes you hope to make. Emphasize the benefits of having a structured routine, such as reducing stress, improving sleep, and helping everyone be more productive.

This is an important step because it will help to get everyone on board with the changes.

If you have young children, you can mentally prepare them by telling them what the new mornings and evenings will look like.

For example, if their current routine is watching cartoons soon after waking up but you want to change that to a no-screen time morning, you can let them know that they will have a fun and enjoyable activity to start their day instead. They can help choose what that activity can be.

Offer an incentive to make the change easier like a new book or a craft kit. Reward charts or a points system they can use toward a reward of their choice can motivate your kids and see the change as more positive.

Tips for communicating the plan effectively:

  • Choose a time when everyone is available and relaxed. Don’t try to have this conversation when everyone is stressed or tired.
  • Start by explaining why you’re making these changes. What are your goals for the new routine? How do you think it will benefit the family?
  • Be clear about what you’re asking for. What changes do you want to make? What are your expectations for everyone?
  • Listen to everyone’s concerns. Be open to feedback and suggestions.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic. This will help to get everyone excited about the changes.
  • Explain the benefits gained from the new routine.

Examples of how you can communicate the plan:

“I’m thinking about making some changes to our family’s daily routine. I think it would be helpful to have a more structured routine, especially with the kids starting school soon. I’m open to suggestions, but I’m thinking about things like having set wake-up and bedtime times, making sure we have breakfast and dinner together, and having some time for family activities each day.”

“I know that change can be hard, but I think this would be really good for our family. I’m confident that we can do it if we work together. I’m here to support you every step of the way.”

“I’m not expecting perfection. We’re all going to make mistakes along the way. But I’m confident that if we stick with it, we’ll eventually get into a good routine.”

Ways to encourage family members:

  • Emphasize the benefits of the new routine. How will it make their lives easier or more enjoyable?
  • Make it fun. Can you incorporate some fun activities into the new routine?
  • Offer rewards. If you have young children, you could offer them small rewards for following the new routine. Incentives can help your kids stick with the plan.
  • Be patient and understanding. Change can be hard, so be patient with your family members as they adjust to the new routine.
  • Lead by example. Follow the new routine yourself and be positive and enthusiastic about it.

Step 2: Assess the Current Routine

Once you’ve communicated the plan, it’s time to assess your current routine. This will help you to identify areas that need improvement or adjustment.

The simplest and easiest way to assess your current routine is to prepare a checklist and questions for feedback from your family.

Your checklist should include all the activities that need to happen each day, such as wake-up and bedtime times, meals, homework, chores, and leisure activities.

  • Ask questions and get feedback.
  • What are the things that are working well?
  • What are the things that could be improved?
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Are you spending enough time with your family?
  • Are you getting your work done?

This should take about 30 minutes to 1 hour and it’s worth the time if you want a better routine.

Now that you know what works and what needs improvement, you can set goals for the new routine and create a plan to make it happen.

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Step 3: Set Clear Goals

Once you know what you need to change, it’s time to set some clear goals. You probably already have a good idea of what you want to achieve but after getting feedback from your family, there might be some modifications.

  • What do you want to achieve with the new routine?
  • Do you want to have smoother mornings?
  • Less screen time?
  • More quality family time?
  • More productive evenings?

Tips for setting goals with your family:

Use SMART goals.

Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. This will help you to track your progress and stay motivated. *freebie

Break down large goals into smaller bite-sized steps.

This will make the goals seem less overwhelming and more doable.

Set a timeline for each step.

This will help you to stay on track and make progress towards your goals. Don’t underestimate the power of the deadline. It’s not like a strict work deadline but really a way to help the family stick to the plan and not fall back into old habits.

Celebrate your successes along the way.

Reward yourselves with something fun like a movie or dinner at a nice restaurant.

Don’t just share the mental load, reduce it! Here are 7 ways to lighten your load that works to free up your mental energy so you can stop being overwhelmed and stressed out.

Examples of goals you could set for your family:

  • Have a consistent wake-up and bedtime time for everyone.
  • Eat breakfast together as a family every day.
  • Have a family game night once a week.
  • Reduce screen time by 1 hour per day.
  • Get everyone involved in chores.

Once you have set your goals, you can start to plan for making your new daily routine a reality. To make it even easier to follow, include a timeline in the plan for each step as a way to track your progress.

It’s important to remember that change takes time. Don’t expect to see results overnight. That’s why it’s best to get a head start on your new routine.

Soon you and your family will enjoy a daily routine that works well for everyone.

Step 4: Create a New Schedule

The new schedule should be realistic and flexible. It should consider the needs of everyone in the family, including work schedules, homework, extracurricular activities, meal prep, chores, and bedtimes.

You may also want to include time for family activities, such as reading together or playing games.

Suggestions for creating a schedule for a busy family:

Be patient and understanding.

Change can be hard, so be patient with each other as you adjust to the new routine.

Communicate openly and honestly.

Talk to each other about your goals and challenges.

Offer support and encouragement.

Help each other stay motivated and on track.

Celebrate your successes together.

This will help to keep everyone motivated and on track.

Tips on how your family can achieve goals together:

  • Start by considering the new routine and your top priority tasks. Include family downtime and relaxation too (important for busy families).
  • Be flexible. Things don’t always go according to plan, so be prepared to adjust for unexpected events. Include some wiggle room for tasks and other activities that might take more or less time.
  • Keep the schedule accessible. Having it available in one place can make following the schedule so much easier.
  • Make it fun. Use colors, stickers, or calendars with fun pictures which can make it less boring for the kids.
  • Assess what’s working and what is not. Sometimes some things don’t work out. If the new schedule is making it difficult to keep up with the new routine. Figure out what adjustments need to be made and start fresh the next day.

It’s important to find a schedule that works for your family’s unique needs and circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so experiment until you find something that works well for you.

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Step 5: Gradually Shift to the New Routine

Once you have a new schedule, it’s time to start putting it to work. Don’t try to change everything overnight. Start by making small changes, and gradually introduce more changes as everyone gets used to the new routine.

How to gradually shift to the new routine:

Start with your top goal.

For example, if sleeping in is a habit you want to change, you might want to slowly shift wake-up and bedtime times over the next few days until consistency is achieved.

Refer to your goals and rewards chart (for kids).

Tracking how your progress can be helpful if there’s a significant switch from the old routine. For your kids, a reward chart can help motivate them to stick with the new routine.

Offer praise and give positive vibes.

Letting your family know they are doing great during this transition can make a big difference. Expressing how much more fun and enjoyable the mornings are to your family could also influence how positively they view the new routine.

Be patient and persistent.

It takes time to change your routine, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results overnight. Small adjustments can make a difference.

Examples of how family members can make small changes each day:

  • Mom could start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night.
  • Dad could start by packing lunches for the kids the night before.
  • Packing bags and backpacks in the evening.
  • The kids could start by putting their dirty clothes in the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor. After which they can mark off on a chart that they’ve finished the task.
  • Having showers in the evening to save time in the morning.
  • Doing one load of laundry before eating breakfast or eating dinner.

These are just a few examples. The important thing is to start small and make changes that are realistic and doable for your family.

Creating a better routine for back to school can be exciting and a bit nerve-wracking. A little bit of preparation and a gradual shift to your new routine can give you and your family more confidence and a positive attitude.

Don’t forget that any change in your habits and routines requires patience and a supportive environment. In the end, it’s about doing the best you can through consistency and a realistic approach. Do this and you and your family will come out ahead when September arrives.

Don’t just share the mental load, reduce it! Here are 7 ways to lighten your load that works to free up your mental energy so you can stop being overwhelmed and stressed out.

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