I’ve been a parent for 16½ years now, and one important thing I’ve learned is this: Everything Works Better with a Routine. This is due in part to my personality, and due in part my children’s personalities. However, I’ve also come to understand that most children thrive with a solid rhythm to their days.
Many of us know the value of regular shared dinner times or bedtime rituals. We can lean into them, knowing that the people connection and emotional nourishing we need can be found at these points of the day.
In summer, most routine gets thrown out the window, doesn’t it? It certainly does in our house. So how can you build a “rhythm” that you can count on and that keeps everyone soothed? Only you can design routines that will suit your own family the best, but let me offer some ideas to get you started.
Here’s what we do in our house, with teen boys:
Consistent daytime work hours for the parents.
Regular shared dinner times, as in the school year.
When kids come home from their various activities, we pause to connect.
Regular hangouts with friends. (For example, every Tuesday morning since the break started, we’ve had the same pack of boys over.)
No media (phones) until breakfast is eaten and chores are complete, plus limited media time for our 13-year old.*
Consistent nights off for the parents, together and separately!
Yes, we struggle around this. Yes, we parents are like broken records. Yes, we hold firm to it.
When our children were little, here’s what we did:
Regular rest times in the day.
Regular bedtimes (albeit often later) with the same routines.
Regular playdates with the same friends.
A regular meal plan, where a specific food is eaten on a specific day of the week (ie: Muesli on Monday. Yes, we really did this!)
Some of you may think, “Bleh! It’s summer! I just want to be spontaneous!” I’m with you on that, and I know that the spontaneous play is ever so much more fun with kids who have security and confidence in how their days are planned. If you think through your days, you will likely find a few natural anchors that will keep your family grounded and ready for adventures.
I hope those ideas help! If you want more ideas and inspiration, listen check out our playlist from Monday, Stories for a Smooth Summer Routine.
About the Author
Lisabeth Sewell has worn many hats at Sparkle over the years, from Sparkle Kitchen Blogger to Editorial Director to Doer of All Odd Jobs. Her primary role is as CEO.