Five Ways to Build Structure in Your Family

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It's never too late to launch new routines. In fact, if you're doing your job, routines are always changing along with your children's development and the seasons. Here are a few quick tips.

Sleep Cycles

The very first routine an infant learns is to sleep through the night (hopefully!). The importance of structured sleep doesn't end there. Naptimes should be as consistent as possible, and can morph into "quiet time" as toddlers grow. Even older children and teens can benefit from consistent bedtimes. Having a set routine that includes reading, chatting, songs and prayers can ease children to sleep and evolve over time.

Family Calendar

Printing out calendar pages can help children look beyond hours and days to longer spans of time. Include them in mapping out the week ahead with regularly scheduled activities and special events. Consult the calendar each morning and use the opportunity to teach days of the week and months of the year. Talk about the day ahead and what it has in store. As children grow, their concept of time will expand and you can start discussing routines that recur each season and traditions to look forward to each year.

Chore Charts

Getting kids to help around the house is less of a battle if duties are expected, consistent and routine. Map out simple chores, like making the bed, that need to be done each day, along with weekly duties, such as dusting. Chores can be completed around the same time every day and checked off once done. And be sure to keep up your end of the bargain – if your child gets an allowance, pay up at the same time. Or consider a monthly reward like a trip to the movies.

Good Grooming

One basic life skill kids need to master is self-care. Brushing teeth, fixing hair and dressing ultimately evolves into using deodorant and doing laundry. Make it easier with grooming bins full of age-appropriate products, clothing and accessories easily organized in drawers. Set a schedule for getting ready each morning.

Meal Plans

It takes some ambition, but having a house menu can give your children meals to look forward to and make shopping and prep easier for you. From Meatless Mondays and Taco Tuesdays to Pizza Fridays, there are plenty of ways to build consistency. If your kids are old enough, you can even set aside a night they cook for you. The best plan is to build family dinners into the schedule whenever possible.

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