How to integrate healthy routines into the family

All children, and adults, need routines. Routines help organize our days, constantly integrate healthy habits, and define our tasks and responsibilities.

The importance of healthy routines

When a child knows what he has to do, he begins to feel much more secure in his environment. And just as healthy habits are created through routine, it is also possible to have unhealthy routines,

“Some moms come to the office and tell me that they find it hard to have specific routines in the week. I have the case of a mother who told me that she is nocturnal. She is more active at night and, therefore, she has a hard time putting her daughter to sleep. The four-year-old girl could be playing until 12 or one in the morning depending on what time her parents fall asleep. The next day, this girl’s mood is irritable, she has a hard time waking up, she doesn’t pay attention”, explains Paloms, psychologist and mother, author of the blog Hola Mi Tribu.

Especially in the early years of children’s development, the kind of routine they have is very important. Think about it, they are beginning to create the habits that they will carry for a lifetime. Good and bad habits, so it’s critical that as a family you establish routines that are positive. And not only that, remember that children learn by imitation: you must also lead by example.

What healthy routines can we apply as a family?

1. Mealtime

Establishing a meal schedule is useful for your children to learn to eat well. The food routine helps them to know when their stomach is full, they are not snacking and snacking, not knowing the quality and quantity of what they are eating. In addition, if they all eat together as a family, ties are strengthened, and the moment becomes more enjoyable.

Integrate the most suitable foods for each meal, make sure they are varied, and that they belong to different groups. Do not forget to include fruits, vegetables, and freshwater every day. Hydration is also very important. At least two liters throughout the day, prefer plain water, without sugar.

2. Personal hygiene

How difficult bath time is for some children! You should not be flexible on this subject. Personal hygiene habits are essential because they are related to our health. Brushing their teeth after every meal, bathe daily (or at least every other day), make sure their clothes are clean, and tidy up their room. Set specific days and times when you must do each thing.

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3. Homework time

Just as you have your job, your child must understand that he also has responsibilities, and that homework is one of them. You decide the time he does his homework, but a great tip is that when he gets home, before anything else, he does his homework. Problems will be avoided.

4. Exercise, at least 30 minutes daily

Many parents make the mistake of believing that because children are playing and running, that counts as exercise. No, children need vigorous physical activity or the specific practice of a sport. Find your time to move and exercise as a family. Drink water to stay hydrated!

5. Time to watch TV or have fun

If you think that leisure time should not be in the routine, you are wrong. Children also need to play, have fun, and get away from stress. Obviously, you also have to set schedules. They can’t spend all evening watching TV, but they can set aside one hour a day to enjoy their favorite show or go out to play.

6. Family moments

Set aside some time each day to spend time with your children. They can do some puzzles, play a board game or read a little, but these moments are the ones that will stay etched in their memory. Take advantage of the weekend to break the routine and make plans together. Go for a bike ride, a swim, to the park, or skating. Not only is it worth it, but they are also very important.

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7. Time to go to bed

Sleeping hours should be a priority in the family. Children between the ages of five and 12 should get about 10 to 12 hours of sleep. Adults and adolescents need about 7 to 8 hours. The whole family should have their bedtime, not necessarily the same, especially if you have small children and adolescents, but sleep is essential to get through the day. Set schedules and establish a suitable environment: no screens and no toys on the bed.

As parents, it is a great challenge to establish comfortable, effective, and healthy routines that maintain balance. But beware, our children are not robots, we must also be flexible and be aware that, if from time to time the family gets out of the routine, nothing happens.

“Remember the 80 20 rule. If 80% of the time your kids have a routine to follow, that’s fine. It is also very nice to be able to get out of the routine, go on vacation, have a party, and eat outside the house. Routines help us have a clear idea of what our days are like and what we have to do in the week or month, but it’s not like something will happen if we sometimes break that routine”, concludes Paloms.

No matter what routine you are talking about, the important thing is that at least from Monday to Friday you try to follow schedules. This is going to make it a lot easier for our kids and you will also know what’s next so you can guide them.

We all need routines; they help us organize ourselves. Photo: Shutterstock
We all need routines; they help us organize ourselves. Photo: Shutterstock

Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver

Spanish version