It is the beginning of the school year, which means that it’s time to get back into the swing of weekday routines. While you may miss the flexibility and fun of summer vacation, having a predictable daily routine actually has a lot of benefits for your child’s mental and physical well-being, as well as for yours. It can even play a role in helping you to maintain a healthy weight and lessen stress.

You have probably already heard that children thrive on a structured schedule. This is because it gives them a sense of security and predictability while also helping them to develop self-discipline. Kids endure changes and stressors each day just like adults do, and when they have predictability at home, it’s easier for them to overcome them. If you are able to, it is helpful to begin school routines before the first day of school. Use the last week or two of vacation to start earlier bed times and eating meals at the times that they will be eating them when school starts.

It’s clear that routines are great for kids, but they aren’t the only ones who gain from them. It turns out that the routines you set for your children can be good for you too, by helping you to reduce your stress and maintain healthy eating habits. When you follow a schedule each day, you know exactly what to expect. You are more organized and have less to worry about, which takes away a lot of life’s daily hassles and stressors. A daily routine should also ensure that you are eating at regular times during the day, and this can help to promote good eating habits. Eating four or five times a day is associated with a lower risk of obesity. If you do not have a regular schedule, you are more likely to skip meals, hit the drive thru or grab snacks from vending machines.

In order to ensure success for you and your family, be sure to plan ahead. Decide your meals, including breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, and do your grocery shopping over the weekend. You can make lunches at night and have them ready in the fridge in order to help mornings to go more smoothly. This preparation will help to make sure you don’t break your daily schedule. Once your family settles into these routines, you will hopefully find that everyone is less stressed and has adopted healthier habits!

Hannah Linden, Certified Health Education Specialist
Patient Advocate Assistant

Resources
American Academy of Pediatrics. The Importance of Family Routines.
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/The-Importance-of-Family-Routines.aspx

Bovee, V. (2008). Structured Eating. Weight Loss Success Lifestyles.

Markham, L. Why Kids Need Routines & Structure. Aha! Parenting.
https://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/family-life/structure-routines

Myers, P (2015). Back to School: How to get a good routine going. Child Development Institute.
https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/family-building/back-to-school-tips/

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