Last week parents everywhere were doing the "happy dance" as their children headed back to school. We love our children. We even love doing fun things with them. We love summer. All of these things are true but there is something wonderful about seeing that yellow school bus coming to pick up the children and reminding you that they are learning, cared for and having fun - and you can breathe!
Getting back to school allows us all to establish our routines and feel as if our household is actually running well! Following are a few helpful tips for setting boundaries and getting into healthy routines. Setting healthy boundaries means setting appropriate routines for our children's emotional health. This is one way we can let our children know that they are loved. It is unhealthy for children to be put in the position of an advisor, best friend or confidant to an adult. It is our obligation to teach them healthy boundaries so that they can make healthy choices. Let's start by looking at bedtime routines. You may have a bedtime routine without even realizing this!
1. Establish appropriate bed times. Of course this depends on the age of the children. Toddlers and babies have a different bedtime and routine than elementary, middle school or high school students. Make sure that it is reasonable for the family dinner and activities. Older children and teens may need extra time to get homework done after their activities are completed.
2. Along with the time - bedtime rituals or routines must be established. When we do approximately the same things each night, our body becomes used to this and it ends up becoming a signal to our bodies that it is time to relax and wind down. When bath (or shower time) is completed - it is a signal to the children that rough play is done. It is time to allow our bodies and our minds to unwind. Brushing teeth, getting into PJ's and laying out the next day's clothes are all signals that day is done.
3. Bedtime can be used to connect with your child. We all have busy lives. That includes our children. Bedtime is a great time to connect and talk about your day (age appropriately, of course) and hear about your child's day. It gives them the opportunity to have your un-divided attention without outside interference.
4. Story time is an important aspect of bedtime routine. Not only does this give you an opportunity to connect with your child and to give them individual attention it allows you to help strengthen reading skills. For older elementary children, read a chapter book together. You can read a chapter and let them read you a chapter. You will find this a great way for both of you to wind down.
These are just a few ideas that you can use. Of course, it is important to have routines in the morning, also. Routines and healthy boundaries decrease anxiety in both children and their parents. When we know what is supposed to happen and what is likely to happen, our anxiety is lowered and we begin and end our day in a healthy way. I hope that some of these work for you. Happy Back to School!