Routines for kids are a fundamental part of learning and build a sense of confidence for children. Routines can start from the beginning. When my girls were babies, we got in the habit of creating a routine for them so even as infants they could learn what to expect. I had found that a routine was not only important for them, as it was for us as parents. This is a way to give your child comfort and consistency and to help you as a parent in the long run. 

Routines & Visual Charts

Routines help children develop life skills, feeling a sense of security and build healthy habits for the future. Good routines that are planned out can also reduce stress for parents.  

Every family is different, and you know what is best. Some children may like charts or even calendars. These are great to help the child understand the next step of the day or even the next day. You could add daily chores to their charts for ways to earn rewards; make it fun! Younger children may appreciate a visual, pictorial schedule with images that magnetize to the fridge, i.e: dinner, family time, brush teeth, read a book, and bedtime.

Benefits of Routines For Kids:

  • Offers a sense of security and stability
  • Helps kids trust their caregiver
  • Builds healthy habits (ie: learning you wash hands after going potty)
  • Provides a sense of control
  • Builds independence
  • Teaches the cognitive skill of cause and effect with predictability
  • Consistency leads to children building self-regulation skills

Example of Daily Routines For Kids!  

Morning Routine for Kids 

  • Breakfast 
  • Brush teeth 
  • Get dressed  

Whether this is for the school year or vacation time it still applies. Remember routine is important, it gives a child a sense of control and independence. You can start these three things when your children are babies, and as they get older you may want to add making their bed and packing up their backpack for school.  

Afternoon Routine for Kids 

  • Outdoor Play
  • Lunch  
  • Naptime/relax time 
  • Snack
  • Activity 

Do you have a baby or toddler napping? If so, this is a great opportunity to set up what time works best based on when he gets tired. Typically, after eating is a great time for a nap/rest. If you have school aged children this a great time to do a quiet activity or also rest; you know your child best.

There are going to be days that special activities or events happen and maybe your child’s meals or naps will get thrown off, and that’s okay. Some children can handle change very well, others that really thrive off routine and it may be more challenging. I have two children, one of them thrives with her daily routine, the other just rolls with it. The nice part about them being so different is they learn how to deal with change from one another. As the kids get older, they will be adding homework and sports/activities into their routines. To lessen stress for children who have difficulty with change, provide transition cues (examples below).

Evening Routine for Kids 

  • Chores
  • Dinner 
  • Bath time  
  • Reading/stories 
  • Songs 
  • Bed  

The evening routine for my kids was always the most important and it started at a very young age for our children. Around a few weeks old we started this routine. We had bath time some nights or just a warm washcloth clean up as newborns. We would read stories and sing, my girls still love Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. When they are babies, it isn’t about showing pictures and understanding a story its more about them hearing your soothing voice. Then I would nurse and put them to bed. Bath time and stories are a great way to calm our bodies down at the end of the day. It encourages a great sleep routine and positive sleep habits as they grow.  

Transition Strategies:

Change can be hard for some children. Think of yourself. Do you like when someone throws a wrench in your plan? Providing transition cues, verbal or visual, can be helpful. You can occasionally offer a sensory break between activities. Sometimes getting out some energy can help our bodies feel more secure.

  • Give verbal cues such as, “We have 5 minutes left at the park so pick one last thing to do.” Also alert them to what is next, “In 5 minutes we are going to the grocery store.”
  • Sing a transition song. Perhaps there is always a song you play as you get ready for bath or the famous clean up song that announces play is over and we need to clean up before the next activity.
  • Use a visual timer, like this one!
  • For children who need a visual, have small pictures on a wrist band, necklace, or keyring to show them what is coming next.
  • Sensory breaks: Yoga poses, 3 minutes of Simon Says, dance party, or 5 star jumps
  • Ask the kids to move to the next activity in a silly way: hop to the potty or gallop to the dinner table.
  • Allow a transition object at times. If you have to get in the car to head to dance class, maybe the child can pick one toy to come along for the ride (state that it will stay in the car so it doesn’t get lost).

Hire a household manager or nanny today to help ease the heavy work load for Mom and Dad. Childcare providers such as nannies can help set up routines for kids and schedule to keep everyone on track, making life easier when parents get home from work. Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny will help you find the perfect match and listen to all of your family’s needs.

About The Author

Jaclyn Capilli has over 10 years experience working with children. After graduating from Curry College with her Bachelor Degree she worked as a paraprofessional in a special need’s classroom. Then while in Graduate school at Cambridge College she nannied for a local family for 3 years. After moving back to the South Shore she worked for Head Start for 5 plus years while nannying for a local family. She is now a mother of two and is working for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny. She owns Jaclyn Nicole Photography, a photography business in the South Shore. In her free time she likes reading, going for hikes and making memories with her daughters.