Tag Archives: routines

My Life Was One Big Sandwich

3 Nov

For years I tried to sandwich too much into my day leaving me stressed out and feeling unsuccessful because I didn’t complete my entire to-do list. Well, no more! I’ve lightened up in every aspect of my life.

Step One: Get Rid of the Excess

As a family we decided that the most important thing in our life was spending time together. How could we spend more time together if we were running to sporting events and activities every second of the day?  Today, each child chooses one sport or activity during a season. We spend time cheering each other on instead of the divide and conquer route.

Excess even carried into our stuff. We had several, and I don’t mean one or two, boxes that made more than three moves across the country and had never been opened. Out they went! We even pared down on the decorative excess around the house. I kept dusting around the same meaningless stuff. We kept the basics and added family photos or something special we brought back from a trip that provide great memories and topics of discussion.

Out went the clothes that we were certain would come back in style or we would fit into when we lost a few pounds.

Step 2: Organize

Once we pared down, it was easier to organize our belongings and find what we needed. The greatest organizing tool I ever bought was my label maker. Not only are we organized, but now, since everything is labeled, even guests know where things are kept.

Try some of these organizational ideas to get you started.

Step Three: Routines

Morning routines, cleaning routines, school routines, bedtime routines. After paring down and organizing there was less of an overwhelming feeling in the house and we were able to create manageable routines that worked with our schedules. They don’t work perfectly every day but a little glitch once in a while doesn’t disrupt our whole week.

Here are some routine ideas and charts to make it easier for you and your family.

Step Four, Say NO

This was the hardest step for me because I’m a helper by nature. It got easier to say no, though, because my main goal was to spend more time with my family and if I took on more activities that would mean less time with my husband and kids.

This didn’t happen overnight and we tweaked things as time went on, but I don’t feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place sandwich anymore.

Download our November Activity Calendar for kids.

Home Routines Improve School Performance

17 Aug

Ask your child what their routine is at school and they can list every activity/subject for every moment of the day. They love it because they feel safe in knowing exactly what is going to happen throughout the day. Having routines at home will only improve your child’s learning at school.

Morning Routines

Your morning routine is probably the same everyday. Now it’s time to set a morning routine for your kids. Talk with your kids about what they need to do before they go to school every morning; brush teeth, comb hair, get dressed, eat breakfast, make bed, etc. Provide your child with picture and word prompts that will help them remember their morning routine.

Breakfast Routine

Set up a routine for what you will be having for breakfast each day of the week; eggs on Monday, pancakes on Tuesday, etc. This will make it much easier for you in the mornings because you will already have a breakfast plan. You can even make breakfast items the night before or freeze them (egg casseroles, muffins). Fiber, meat, fruit/vegetables and dairy products should be included in breakfast meals because will keep your kids’ bodies full of food and energy.

Homecoming Routine

Whether your kids come home right away or spend time in after-school care, it’s important to have a homecoming routine. Provide a healthy snack and 15 minutes of quiet time for everyone. This will give kids and parents an opportunity to regroup after a long day.

Dinner Routine

Families are finding it much harder to sit down to eat together but it’s an important routine in a child’s life. As often as you can, enjoy a family meal together and converse without the added noise of television. Try to eat around the same time every night.

Bedtime Routine

This is probably the most difficult routine to adhere to because it’s at the end of the day and everyone is exhausted. Try to begin your routine at the same time every night. Turning on quiet music can be a signal to your kids that it’s time to start getting ready for bed. Use picture and word cards so that your child knows exactly what tasks need to be accomplished before they fall asleep. Remember that getting ready for bed should be a peaceful activity and roughhousing should be done earlier in the day.

Routines provide an outline for the day and a sense of security for your child, but are not set in stone. There are days where your routines will change but good communication with your child will make any changes easy.

For detailed information about all of these routines, visit the Smart Mom University campus. Routines, Breakfast

Transitioning to Middle School

2 Aug

Dr. Keith Kanner is our guest blogger this week and has provided wonderful information for parents with new middle schoolers. If you don’t have a middle schooler in your home right now, pass this valuable information on to someone who does.

Dr. Keith Kanner is the author of Your Family Matters: Solutions to Common Parental Dilemmas and host of Your Family Matters internet radio show

July 21st, 2011

Background:  Summer is always a time of transitioning for children.  Sometimes it’s just moving up one grade from the next, which can in itself be stressful, but some transitions are more significant than others. For example, any change from one level is school to the next is more significant than merely a grade change.  Therefore, transitioning from Preschool to Elementary School; Elementary School to Middle School; Middle School to High School, and then High School to College represent such “significant” changes.  Much of this change not only entails academics, but also commonly involves a school change which includes lost and new friends, a new environment, and new tasks to master.  As many high school seniors will be leaving for college next month and in September, the kids at home will also be making their own adjustments even though they are still living with their families.
Much focus on such “significant” changes over the years has been on the transition from Middle School to High School whereby parents and educators stress that from an academic point of view, the leap is intense and the kids who were not serious about school in Middle School better shape up over the summer for high school performance over the next four years will determine where and if they will go to college.
But, it’s in Middle School when children reach puberty, engage in more of a departure from relying on mom and dad, seek intense peer relationships, become obsessed with the opposite sex, and have to perform much greater than they did in elementary school.  Many high school students have told me that the transition from elementary school to middle school was much harder than beginning high school after 8th grade due to the multitude of changes that go beyond studying more, having up to 6 different teachers, and wanting to “fit in” with the popular group.  Most of the stress felt by the Middle School kids has to do with physical and psychological changes which he or she has little control over.  Biology doesn’t wait for the psyche to mature and in many cases the kids just aren’t ready for their bodies to become mature.  On the other hand, some kids are ready and their body isn’t.  These two groups, the early pubescent and the delayed pubescent are considered “risk” groups due to the multitude of tasks that a 12 to 14 year-old has to face during the Middle School years. The tasks of the Middle School child are as follows:
1.  accepting a changing and maturing body
2.  mastering a greater separation from parents
3.  more academic and social demands
4.  interest and relating to the opposite sex
5. greater intensity in same-sex peer relationships
The “who am I” becomes a common question for most middle school children and it is not an easy one to answer given all of the changes and demands made during this two-year period of time.  I see these middle school students as both a vulnerable group, but also provides an opportunity for helpful outside influences if more people are sensitive to the importance of this period of time in a child’s life.  Middle school is often like a middle child. More focus is either placed in the earlier years or in the upcoming high school years, and these two significant years are then minimized and frequently ignored.  Another contributing factor to this is the common attitude of this young adolescent which is frequently resistant, strong willed, and not terribly nice and friendly to their parents.  Typically based on desired independence, many parents hope it is just a phase and hope it will pass once their child goes to high school.  In these cases, too much distance may be created between the parent and child which then leaves this vulnerable child more alone with so much on his or her plate.  A lack of enough parental involvement can then further confuse the teenager and leave more influences in the hands of their peers.
So, how can parents withstand their child’s “attitude”, but not get pushed away too far so not to help their child better manage these invaluable tasks that they need to master to better make it in both middle and high school?
1.  Be aware of the tasks their child has to master and help them if needed.  For example, if a child is having trouble in school, insist they get some help even if they don’t want it.
2.  Be sensitive to their normal vulnerability and be compassionate.  Kids will act nicer to you if you are genuinely nicer to them.
3.  Continue to have family time despite resistance but try to find activities that are enjoyable to everyone.
4.  Insist respect and do not allow they to get out of control.  Young adolescents are like large toddlers and need the same type of loving limits when they are struggling to tow the line.
Take some time this summer and review the necessary normal tasks for your child and work with them to satisfy them.  They will feel better about themselves, be more successful socially and academically and less conflict will echo in your home.  You will also be helping them prepare for high school which is a stage where new and more complex tasks are right ahead of them and mastering the ones in middle school will give them a great foundation in obtaining them beforehand.
Dr. Keith Kanner
Anchor/Host Your Family Matters
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