Raise your hand if your child goes from happy and content to blazing mad in a matter of seconds? This momma is raising her hand. We, as parents, often wonder why this happens. How can my sweet angel be perfectly fine one minute, and the next minute they are in the middle of a full blown tantrum? Often times an unexpected change, or an unpleasant “surprise” will turn a situation upside down. So how do we prevent this at home, and what can we do to make our children successful at school?

While we often think children love surprises, this, many times, is the complete opposite. Children thrive on habits and routines. My own children like to know what the day will hold and know what to expect before they lay their heads on their pillows at night.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a perfect mother. I will not be winning parent of the year. I do not always have the “right” answers when it comes to raising my children. And my own children can often be found melting before my very eyes with onlookers galore in a public place. With that being said, I do feel like my husband and I have done something right when it comes to establishing a routine when we are home from work and school. Here are some handy tips that have worked in our house.

  1. One of the most important routines we have established as a family is eating dinner at the dining room table. No screens. No phones. No couches. While we don’t always have a homemade meal, I am happy to sit around that table eating leftovers, peanut butter and jelly, or whatever frozen dinner I’ve been able to come up with to nourish our bodies. We have found the, “What did you do at school today,” question can often be a dead end. Here is a website that we have used when starting meaningful conversations with our children at dinner: https://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1110017/questions-to-ask-kids?crlt.pid=camp.7vPdJd0d0H7L.
  2. A routine that we started several years ago, when we realized our then toddler was becoming addicted to t.v. at daycare, is no screen time during the middle of the week. I am a teacher, coach, and mom. We are generally not home until about 5 p.m. That leaves very little time between getting home and going to bed that we can spend time as a family. Throw a soccer or baseball practice in there, and we don’t have time for t.v. or tablets. What little time we are home in the evenings is devoted to the boys playing independently while I’m getting dinner ready, playing board games/card games as a family, enjoying a walk to the park or playing in our own backyard, playing with Legos, or having puzzle races. There are so many things that can entertain your child that are not a screen. Was it hard at first? Absolutely! Is it totally worth it? Yes! Eliminating screens in the evening has made it so much easier to go into our bedtime routine.
  3. Which leads me to, what we used to refer to as, “the witching hour,” at our house. Once again, establishing the routine is hard, and takes time, but once your children know the routine, they will thrive on it. Ours goes something like this: bath, jammies, allergy medicine, brush your teeth, comb your hair, pick out your books. While we still repeat the routine each evening, I know my 7 and 4-year-old could do this without me saying anything, because we’ve done it since before my 4-year-old was born. Once your child knows what to expect, “the witching hour” will be a thing of the past.
  4. My favorite part of our evening routine is reading to my babies. We can have the worst day, but as soon as it’s time to read, I melt. I love reading to my children. I love how it makes all of us feel. I love that we can enjoy silly books together. Reading with my boys can instantly change my mood. It can turn a grumpy evening into a relaxing evening. My children love choosing their favorites. And while I may roll my eyes reading Bad Kitty for the eight-hundreth time, it’s totally worth it when my boys are rolling with laughter.
  5. Once we have spent about 20-30 minutes reading, it’s time for prayers. I love hearing my boys talk to Jesus, which usually brings up good conversation about the day that may not have come out at dinner. As soon as our prayers are over, each of my boys have 2 special songs that I’ve sang to them since they were tiny babies. During the school year their door is closing around 7:30 because, while we think that 12 hours of sleep is a lot, our children’s small bodies need LOTS of sleep in order to grow, learn, and focus during the day. Just how much sleep does your child need? Refer to this handy chart: http://ygraph.com/chart/2078

Do our evenings always go perfectly? Nope. Have I had to tell my children to go back to bed several times in one night? Sure. But, I know at the end of the day, they have a routine that allows them to relax, and settle in for the night, knowing they are loved, cared for, and live in a stable home. These routines will spill over into their school life as well. We, at Trinity Lutheran School, Lombard, would love to help you establish routines with your children, not just at home, but also at school. We welcome our students with open arms. If you are looking for a school to call home, consider us, and contact us at schoolinfo@trinitylombard.org or 630.629.8765.