Maintaining Routine When the Kids Are Out of School
With the holiday season here, schedules seem to fly out the window with dinners, parties, and of course the kids are out of school to enjoy all the different events around Thanksgiving and winter break! While it is great to have the whole family home and enjoying the festivities together, there is often a desire and need for maintaining a bit of a routine while they are out of school. However, this is one of those “easier said than done” thoughts that often escapes us entirely, so we decided to put together a few tips and tricks to help everyone hold onto an adaptable schedule that works to keep the days running smoothly and hopefully let’s us all hold onto a little bit of our sanity along the way.
For those of you thinking, “why bother, it’s the holidays,” holding onto a semblance of routine is going to help in a few ways. Firstly, kids need a schedule! This is one of the first things taught to teachers and those who work with children on a daily basis. They thrive when they know what is expected of them. This stability helps them feel safe, balanced, and empowered because they know their boundaries. Giving your kids a similar schedule to the one they have during the school day will bring in a sense of security through the high energy of the season. It will also help to prevent boredom and unending questions about food, activities, and so on.
A routine is also going to help all of us parents hold onto some of the valuable parts of our day that help keep us focused, energized, healthy, and able to give what is needed without feeling totally wiped out. Lastly, a comfortable schedule will make the entire family feel more balanced and happy which just makes the holidays a little sweeter.
#1 Maintain Regular Sleep Hours
Since it is vacation, there is no real need to keep up the rigorous early to bed, early to rise school schedule. Unless you are a lucky parent whose child naturally chooses these hours, don’t worry about changing it up a bit for vacation. The trick is to not change it more than an hour or so and whatever times you do choose, stick with them! So if they normally go to bed at 9 and get up at 7, it’s perfectly fine to let that slip to 10 or 10:30 so they can sleep till 8/8:30. Try not to make extreme changes as it will be more difficult for your children to go back to their school schedule once the break is over.
Another sleep schedule to maintain is naptime! If there is a naptime or quiet time in your child’s typical day, be sure to still give that to them. When possible, do it at the same time they typically have this at school. Once more, the timing can fluctuate 30 minutes to an hour, but try to keep it the same each day.
#2 Keep Routines Around Food
Vacations and holidays are often filled with a surplus of food, candy, and sweets, making it even more important to keep an eye on what your children are eating and when! Many school systems offer breakfast and lunch in their meal plans, and these meals are served at the same time each day. Get into a rhythm with breakfast, lunch, and dinner over the break. If your diet is different than your kid’s food, try to find meals that are easy for you to make two versions, meaning a crossover in ingredients. If this isn’t possible, then opt for things that are simple yet nutritious for everyone. For example, if breakfast is a protein smoothie for you, give your kids the flavors they love and the protein they need with protein crunchies plant-based cereals.
While our busy days may only allow for three meals, most kids will be looking for a snack every few hours. Younger children often have snack time within their school day. Once more, if you can stick to their normal hours for meals and snacks this will help keep them full and avoid any hangry moments. Keep high protein, plant-based snacks available in a place your kids can access them. This may be a bowl on the counter or basket in the fridge with an allotted amount of vegetarian snacks and protein snacks to keep them satiated and healthy for the day. Be sure to load up on some Puffs and Stix Variety Packs for quick, clean nutrition that kids love!
#3 Active Minds and Bodies
Just because the kids are home doesn’t mean the rest of your obligations have stopped! It’s important to plan out some activities and quiet times to keep their minds and bodies active while you attend to your other responsibilities. Check with your local library, rec center, or community center and see what classes or events may be available. If your child enjoys reading, coloring, painting, crafts, or other independent activities, set aside a time in the day for them to do this so you can focus on your own tasks.
Getting to the gym when the whole family is home can be nearly impossible, so plan some physical activity that everyone can enjoy. If it’s not too cold, head to the park. While the kids play, you can opt for some calisthenics or jogging around the playground. If indoors is the only option, look for trampoline parks with adult and kid sections, indoor rock climbing for the whole family, or keep it simple with a great workout video at home and challenge your kids to follow along with you.
By creating a holiday routine for the whole family, you can avoid many chaotic moments and reserve your patience and energy for things that truly deserve your attention, like family game night around the fire or afternoon snowball fights in the yard!