Without a solid routine, families meet all kinds of interesting and tiresome issues during the school year, including meltdowns, tears, fighting, breakfast in the car, mismatched socks, stinky breath, and incomplete homework assignments.

You want to enjoy the morning, afternoons, and evenings with your munchkins. You want them to do their part so you can do your part. You want the stress level low, and you want to get out of the house on time, get to soccer on time, and get the kids to bed – on time!

Don’t we all? Thankfully, routines make that possible. Here are my tips for designing and maintaining routines that support the family through all the transitions of the school year.

Tip #1: Know what you believe about HOW morning, afternoons, and bedtimes “should” be.

Once you know your preferences and what the perfect routine would consist of – for you – put it on a shelf and pull it out when the kids leave home at 18. No matter how awesome YOUR routine might be, if you don’t get the kids involved in the creating of the routines, they will never last longer than a day or two.

Tip # 2: Identify what you do now that works, and what isn’t working.

Write it down, so you can draw from it during your conversation with the kids. Then, invite the kids to sit down with you and talk about the morning, afternoon, and evening routines. Be honest about how some of the routines didn’t work all that well and highlight the parts that did work well.

If the kids know you’re open to listening to their ideas, and you want them to help you create routines for the entire family, they will be more invested in sticking to them.

Take into consideration your child’s natural rhythms, their needs (big breakfast, vs ½ an apple), their competencies (one is naturally organized, another needs a to-do list to refer to), and of course, their age and abilities.

Keep the routines simple. The more steps and requirements, the less likely you are to feel successful.

Remember, you’re building a lifelong skill here, so go slow in the beginning and trust the process.

Tip #3: Decide that you’ll give the new routine time to work.

We tend to jump from one routine to another if we don’t get immediate results. My recommendation is to wait at least two weeks before you start making any significant tweaks to any routine or system you’re trying to implement into daily life with the kids.

You have to allow for trial and error until you find the sweet spot. As soon as you find that sweet spot, you can take advantage of it until it’s time to make modifications.

Remember, kids grow and change and families change so stay flexible and make small adjustments instead of complete overhauls.

Over time, once your children realize you’re going about the routine and that you trust them to manage on their own, they begin to master tasks that lead to confidence and capability.

After the peaceful, relaxed and orderly routine is established, you’ll never look back!


  1. Are you able to challenge your assumptions about the best (and maybe right or wrong) way to do things?
  2. How will you include the children in setting up routines?
  3. Do you live with a night owl or a morning lark? Does your child like time to move slowly and methodically through his day or does he slide down the bannister and out the door, grabbing a protein bar on the way?
  4. How will you encourage yourself so you can support your children as they identify and develop routines that work best for them?
  5. What questions will you ask them, so they are thinking about what works best for them and why?

[stag_icon icon=”graduation-cap” url=”” size=”20px” new_window=”no”]  This post is an excerpt from Vicki Hoefle’s free Back-to-School reboot course.