Why are Routines so Important for Kids?

A new school year is a time of change for children and setting a routine can help them manage their stress and transition from the summer schedule to a new school routine.

We often struggle with change. As humans, we develop routines and derive a sense of security from knowing what to expect and when. Change can cause anxiety and uncertainty, resulting in stress. This is especially true for children. A new school year is a time of change for children and setting a routine can help them manage their stress and transition from the summer schedule to a new school routine.

Why are Routines so Powerful?

1. Set Expectations. Children often fear the unknown. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it provides them with consistency and reduces this fear. When a child knows what to expect, they become more confident, independent, and begin to learn responsibility. Even in the younger grades, children can be responsible for choosing their own clothes, brushing their teeth, and making sure everything they need is in their backpack.

family looking at floor plans2. Reduce Stress. Routines benefit the entire family. When everyone knows the routine, the household is generally calmer. Routines make sure daily tasks get completed in a timely manner and reduce the occurrence of forgotten tasks or last-minute crises. There are generally fewer power struggles as children accept that this is just the ways things are done.

3. Create Family Bonds. Routines can also be used to reinforce family bonds and develop family traditions and rituals. For example, older children may flinch at hugs and kisses when leaving for school but may find a special family handshake or fist bump acceptable.

calendar elements4. Easier to Manage Change. Routines should be consistent but flexible. No two days will be exactly the same, but minor changes are managed more easily within the structure of a routine. When setting a morning routine, build in extra time. There are always unexpected things that arise and a time buffer will make them less stressful.

A Getting Ready for School routine should start the night before. As part of the bedtime routine, a child may choose their clothes for the next day, make sure all needed school items are in their backpacks, and check the calendar for any unusual activities that may require a special outfit or signed permission slip. Everything should be placed together in an obvious place, so nothing is forgotten as they leave in the morning.

sleeping toddler5. Healthier. Making sure the child gets enough sleep is critical not only to the morning routine, but to ensuring the child has a productive school day. Bedtimes should be set to allow for adequate sleep. Alarm clocks allow the child to be in charge of waking up, but they may need a little nudging. When waking a child – be cheerful and upbeat. If the child likes to snuggle – build it into their morning routine.

Once children are up and moving around, create a routine for regular activities like getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing hair and teeth, and putting on shoes and socks. Younger children may need reminders and motivation. Again, be positive and upbeat and whenever possible, give the children age appropriate choices. The goal is to give children a good start to their day.

Children tend to do better with structure provided by consistent, predictable routines. Routines help families organize their activities and reduce some of the uncertainty and stress inherent in any family. It’s worth the time to create and write a routine, posting it on the refrigerator so everyone has a visual reminder.

5 Communication Tips for Busy Families with Nannies

Communication is critical in maintaining family routines and minimizing stress.

child on bikeFamilies today have busy schedules and the larger the family – the greater the challenge. Playdates, school, work meetings, cooking, sports, and summer vacations are just a few of the family activities and commitments that can create a hectic schedule but strong communications between families and nannies can help child routines go smoothly. Communication is critical in maintaining family routines and minimizing stress. Here are 5 tips to help busy families and nannies better communicate.

1. Face to Face Conversations. In this day of cell phones, texting, and emails, the benefits of a face to face conversation are sometimes overlooked. Taking a few minutes when transferring supervisor responsibilities can make a world of difference. Nannies can communicate the highlights of how the children were feeling and behaving while in her care and the family can share the key activities for the day. Remember to make eye contact and be aware of how your body image impacts the meaning of your words. Speak clearly and listen attentively. If you are receiving a lot of information, take notes and then restate the information to make sure your comprehension is accurate.

2. Communication center. A communication center provides a place help the family and nanny share information. A communication center can be a physical location such as a bulletin board, refrigerator, or cubby hole. It can also make use of today’s technology and be a group email list or a joint electronic calendar. The crucial element is that every family member has access and regularly checks the communication center. Nannies and Families must have access to the communication center. Sharing key information about activities and events with their locations and times help the nanny know when and where to care for the children so she can do the job successfully.

daily log3. Daily logs. A daily report may be a one-page template or a quick written note highlighting the activities and key points from the day. The contents of the daily log will differ based on the child’s age and the desires of the parents. It may include feeding, toileting, activities, completed homework, and any household management duties completed during the day, among other things. Unusual events such as symptoms of an illness or a fall at the playground, as well as any actions taken by the nanny such as administering medication or getting medical assistance should be listed. The daily log should be shared in the communication center. Of course – an emergency must be handled appropriately and then summarized later in the daily log.

4. Expense reports. Nannies should have access to money for childcare related expenses – whether it is petty cash or a prepaid card. An important part of the job is communicating how that cash is spent. There should be a defined process to track finances. A weekly report which includes all receipts for expenses is usually sufficient. The report should list the date, location of purchase, items purchased, and total amount spent. For family assistant positions that include shopping such as picking up dry cleaning, groceries, and putting gas in the car, the weekly report should list all the receipts with a general summary of the items purchased.

5. Work agreements. Each nanny position is unique with respect to job duties and expectations. A work agreement is a great tool that lists the job responsibilities and expectations which allows the families and nannies to align on expectations. Work agreements are developed between the nanny and the family with both sides agreeing to the contents. If you don’t have one already, take a few minutes to review a work agreement. For free templates, visit AmsleeInstitute.com/courses which has a 30-minute video on work agreements as well as templates for Sitters, full time nannies, and live-in nannies.

Successful communication between a nanny and the family is critical to successful completion of the nanny’s duties. Communicating with the children can set expectations for daily activities and routines resulting in consistency for the children. Successful communicating with family members reassures all involved that the children are receiving the best possible care.

To learn more, a Communicating with Families course is available with enrollment in the Advanced Childcare program at AmsleeInstitute.com.

About the Author. Michelle Dragalin. Michelle earned an Educational Specialist in Educational Technology from Walden University, Master of Education from University of Phoenix, Bachelor of Art in Special Education from Old Dominion University, and Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University. Michelle is a Texas elementary school teacher (PK-8) and has experience in Colorado elementary schools and working as a special education teacher. Michelle is an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute.

 

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