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Having a daily routine for kids can save your life as a busy mom.
But when school is out and kids are home for spring break, summer vacation, winter break or any other reason, your daily plans can go right out the window.
And that, my mama friends, is no bueno.
Because then you end up with fidgety kids who are constantly bugging you for something to do while you end up getting nothing done yourself. And nobody’s got time for that.
But there’s a simple way to get around it: come up with a new daily routine for kids until school is back in session.
That’s what I want to help you with. So take a look at these tips for putting a routine in place when the kids being home all day is your (temporary) new normal.
1. Set realistic expectations
This sounds simple enough but you can’t skip this step when creating a routine while the kids are home from school.
Everybody in the family needs to have realistic expectations about how your days will go (and how they won’t).
That includes talking to your spouse about what having the kids at home means and how it might change your existing schedule, as well as talking to your kids.
You don’t want your kids thinking no school means every day is a free-for-all. And you don’t want your spouse assuming that you can handle it all yourself if you already know you’re going to need help.
So as soon as school lets out, it not before, schedule a family discussion about what your new daily routine might look like. That can go a long way toward avoiding issues down the line.
2. Stick to regular wake-up and bedtimes
When school’s out, it’s so tempting to let kids have a little more leeway when it comes to going to bed or sleeping late every morning. After all, there’s no more running to catch the bus, right?
But if you’re trying to get into a new daily routine, bookending your days with regular wake-up times and bedtimes can really save your sanity.
And it’s good for your kids too if it means they’re getting enough sleep and not waking up feeling cranky or tired.
The easiest solution is to stick with your kids’ normal wake-up and bedtimes. But if you want to give them a break from super-early mornings, you could adjust the times up by 30 minutes or an hour.
And keep the routine going on the weekends as well. That way, no one’s struggling to get up on time or get back on schedule once Monday morning rolls.
3. Schedule meals and snacks
So here’s one thing that happens when kids are home from school: they want to eat ALL. DAY. LONG.
That’s bad for a few reasons.
For one thing, if you’re trying to stretch your grocery budget and keep your pantry stocked then you don’t need your kids swarming the food supplies like hungry locusts.
And for another, if they’re constantly grazing and snacking then they won’t want to eat the regular meals you prepare for lunch or dinner.
Not to mention, mindless eating isn’t exactly healthy, especially if your kids can’t get outside to exercise that often.
So that’s where regular mealtimes and snack times can help make setting a daily routine for kids easier. I mean think about it: they’re used to eating at certain times at school so why not keep that going while they’re at home?
A good rule of thumb is to plan out three meals and two snacks a day, though if kids are being more active you may want to add in an extra snack. And if you don’t want to waste too much time in your busy day making meals and snacks, then take a peek at this list of quick and easy Instant Pot recipes for busy moms.
4. Split the day up into blocks
Since we homeschool and I work from home, having the kids around all day is nothing new. But if you’re used to the kids being in school then you may feel completely out of sorts when it comes to how the day will go.
Breaking the day up into blocks can be a big help. Because then you can assign things to each block to make things go smoother for you and the kids.
So here’s how this works at our house.
From the time I wake up until 1 pm is Block 1. During this time, I’m doing work for my freelance clients while my kids read, draw or have screen time.
1 pm to 5 pm is Block 2. This is when we walk the dogs, read aloud for 60 to 90 minutes, then tackle our homeschool work for the day.
Block 3 goes from 5 pm to bedtime. I cook dinner, the kids walk the dogs again, shower, pick up their rooms then we relax before bed.
This works well for us and it’s the way our days have operated for several years now. But you might choose to break up your days differently, depending on how old your kids are and whether you also work at home.
If you’ve never planned a daily routine for kids like this, it might take some experimenting to find a groove you’re all comfortable with. And make sure to ask your kids for their input on what’s working and what’s not.
5. Prioritize and delegate
Prioritize and delegate are two of the best rules to follow when trying to create a daily routine for kids.
Because let’s face it, unless you’re really superwoman you won’t be able to do it all. So the better option is to pick and choose what’s most important to get done for that day, then focus on doing it.
This is especially important if you’re working from home. Because if you don’t work you don’t get paid, right?
So when school lets out, sit down with your kids and explain to them what your priorities are as a family for each day. For example, that might be getting work done, making sure everyone is clean and fed and keeping the house picked up.
Sticking with just three priorities for the day simplifies things for everyone so nobody gets overwhelmed.
And while you’re at it, assign everyone a job to make sure your days go as smoothly as possible.
For example, kids can help with:
- Folding laundry
- Cleaning the bathrooms
- Walking or feeding the family pets
- Planning meals and cooking/baking
- Doing dishes
- Taking out the trash
If your kids aren’t used to doing any of those things, then the best thing you can do is make it fun. Turning chores into a scavenger hunt, for example, or using screen time as a reward can help motivate kids to pitch in without complaining.
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6. Include fun time and quiet time in your daily routine
As you’re planning out a daily routine for kids, remember to include some time for fun and some time for quiet.
Going back to the time blocks I mentioned earlier, for example, you might set aside afternoons for rest or quiet time as a family. This helps the kids recharge and you can even try to squeeze in a little self-care as well.
Then after dinner or first thing in the morning might be fun time, where you do something together as a family that’s not chores or work.
For example, you could do some crafts or take a walk. It’s not that important what you do — it’s really just about intentionally connecting with your kids regularly every day.
If you need some ideas for things to do as a family, check out this list of 101 fun things to do with kids at home.
7. Stay flexible
This last tip might be the most important when setting a daily routine for kids. Because no matter how carefully you plan out your days, they’re not always guaranteed to go exactly according to plan.
So leave yourself some wiggle room in making your routine and schedule. You don’t have to plan out every second of the day and anyway, that’s really tedious.
And if something happens that totally shakes up your routine, don’t panic or fret over it. Just try to get back into your regular pattern as quickly as possible as a family.
The key is being ready for disruptions and doing whatever is needed to minimize them. That can make your time together at home less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone.
Do you have a killer tip for creating a daily routine for kids when school’s out?
Head to the comments and share it, then don’t forget to pin and share this post!