Committee for Children Blog

Build Good Habits and Routines with Your Family This Summer

“Make a schedule,” they all said. And I, being the type-A person I am, took great delight in making my schedule on day one on the stay-at-home order, complete with a plan to iterate on that schedule and adapt it collaboratively with my kids as we tried to find our new normal. That was then.

Now, after weeks of quarantine, I’ve seen post after post of recommended schedules on social media. I’ve also seen the aftermath of parents laugh-crying at the incredible difficulty of trying to make those schedules a reality—especially in households with more than one child.

My first child, when given a schedule, will agonize over whether it’s being followed correctly by everyone and will get upset when things don’t go as planned. My second child takes great delight in blowing a schedule to smithereens. She marches to her own drum and then throws that drum at my colorful whiteboard schedule. Our household schedule was once so full of activities and hope. Now it feels like a daily reminder of my failure as a parent. There are a lot of those reminders right now, especially with kids at home and parents with few childcare options (if they have any at all). But what we really need are reminders that perfection is unattainable. All we can do is try our best at any given moment.

I’m pivoting to habit building instead of schedule building. That’s what I did before my kids were in school, after all. I had specific times to start routines like breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime, but between those we focused on good habits. I was more relaxed about the exact times and specific activities than a schedule typically implies. Here are some of the things I’ll be renewing my focus on this summer.

  • Getting dressed in real clothes when we wake up. After weeks at home, it’s starting to feel like a week-long pajama party around here.
  • Having meals together. This is to keep things consistent with what we were doing before the quarantine.
  • Taking a short morning walk together.
  • Talking through a plan for the day. This is where we may go over a general schedule.
  • Cleaning up as we go. This means putting the dishes on the counter when finished, putting one activity away before starting another, and so on.
  • Knocking before coming into the space where I’m working and waiting to be told to enter. Only one of my kids is trying this out. The other likes to sit against my door and yell, “Maaama, Maaama, Maaama,” over and over until I open it.
  • Reading at least twice each day. If you do only one thing, please make it reading!

We do still have a schedule. I still set intentions, but I’m primarily focused on forming the small steps that will lead to good habits and, eventually, routines that work for our family. I hope, as the summertime approaches, that building these kinds of routines will work for your family, too.