With the kids back at school, now’s the perfect time to think about assessing your family’s schedule and creating a healthy routine for the whole household. You may be worried that this is impossible if you have a particularly manic schedule, with seemingly no time to squeeze in anything else.
However, you can use the guide below to put together a new, healthy routine that’ll work for your unique family, no matter how busy you are. You may be surprised at how effective it is at freeing up time and alleviating pressure rather than adding to it.
Assess the Situation
Before trying to effect a plan, it’s important to take a close look at what’s going on in your household right now. Map out all the kids’ extra-curricular activities, overtime regularly worked by you or your partner, and all other commitments, both of the social or work-related variety.
Look for hot spots, such as evenings, which are always a nightmare because you’ve got to get one child out of the door for football practice while the other needs collecting from book club, and your other half is usually working late. A family calendar app may be a good idea to help you see your week at a glance. Add as much detail to this schedule regarding timings as possible. If you know that you usually get caught in traffic on the Friday school pick-up, note this down, too.
Plan Out Meals
Now you’ve got your family’s week mapped out in black and white, it’s time to get meal planning. Identify a quiet couple of hours during your standard week when you can get some batch cooking done. Freeze these meals in family-sized portions – they can make for an easy dinner in those evening hot spots you’ve identified. Alternatively, consider a healthy meal delivery service (choose from either meal kits or pre-prepared dishes that you simply have to heat up), and serve up these meals on the most manic of your family evenings.
Lunches can be prepared ahead of time, too, to avoid snacking on junk food or sugary treats. Boil a batch of eggs to last a few days, portion out nuts and berries, create simple but tasty pasta salads and cut up carrot and celery sticks for the family to grab out of the fridge in the morning before heading to work or school.
Get Everyone on Board
For your new healthy family routine to work well, you’re going to need to get everyone on board. Encouraging your kids (and partner!) to get involved in the process of planning out this routine is a great way to do this.
Consider calling a family meeting and asking every household member to share what would work best for them and what they’d like to see on the schedule. For example, if an older child tends to be busiest with homework on a Thursday evening, this may not be the best time to put a family meal and movie night on the rota. A meeting is also a great opportunity to discuss household chores and share responsibilities to help things run more smoothly and divide tasks equitably.
Set Healthy Sleep Habits
It’s not just your family’s daytime to think about when it comes to creating a healthy routine. A lack of good-quality sleep is likely to undermine even the healthiest of schedules, causing low mood, affecting the ability to concentrate, and even causing problems with physical well-being. Many parents are surprised at just how much sleep even an older child needs: seven to twelve-year-olds still require around ten to eleven hours of sleep a night.
Having a set bedtime is a great idea for younger (and even older kids and adults!), and a bedtime routine will help everyone wind down and get ready for a good night’s sleep. Banning devices from bedrooms, practicing mindful breathing for five minutes before turning in, and using blackout curtains are all ideas worth considering to help everyone in the household get the slumber they need for happy, productive days.
Healthy Family Routines: Going Forward
Once you’ve created your new healthy family routine and it’s in full swing, it’s important to revisit it from time to time to make tweaks as necessary. As kids get older and after-school activities are dropped or added to, keep an eye on the schedule to take these changes into account to keep everything running smoothly. Similarly, the chores your children can help with will change over time, and crowd-pleasing family activities are likely to need switching up, too.
A healthy family routine is the perfect way to help ensure your household operates like a well-oiled machine and that every member of the family is as happy and settled as possible. Plus, it’s a means of getting kids to undertake some chores around the home and learn some essential life skills.