It’s summer: who needs routines?

Daily  routines help reduce stress for parents and help children feel safe when they can  anticipate and predict what will happen next. The school year provides a predictable routine for many families. But what happens when school ends for the summer?

At our house we’ve been counting down the days to summer for weeks, looking forward to no more alarm clocks, no more rushed breakfasts or scrambling to make a lunch. We are looking having nowhere to be first thing in the morning.

Are you breathing a sigh of relief or anxiously eyeing the calendar wondering how to fill the weeks ahead? It’s a big change for us all.

Kids feel the change, too. For many, losing the routine that the school year provides can be unsettling. 

Maintaining a routine benefits everyone in the family. The Australian Parenting Website offers this, “Daily routines help family life run more smoothly. They also help families enjoy more time together. Routines help children feel safe, develop life skills and build healthy habits. Routines help parents feel organised, reduce stress, and find time for enjoyable activities.”

This is true even in the summer, when the school day routine is replaced with more family time, more travel, and opportunities for new experiences and activities.

What makes a good routine? says, “A good routine is one that suits your family. It also has three key features:

It is well planned. In a good routine, everyone understands their roles, knows what they need to do and sees their roles as reasonable and fair. For example, your children know that they take turns with washing up and drying up each night after dinner. As children get older, they can have a say in planning routines.

It is a regular part of daily life. Good routines become part of everyday family life. For example, you might all look forward to Sunday night barbecues with your children’s grandparents.

It’s predictable. In a good routine, things happen in the same order each time. Everyone knows what to expect for the day. For example, you always wash school uniforms on the weekend, so you know they’ll be ready for Monday morning.

Your summer routine doesn’t have to look exactly like the school year routine did. But having a consistent, predictable rhythm to each day helps everyone feel safe and secure and reduces stress for all.

A regular sequence of events to start the day that includes dressing, eating breakfast, and connecting with each other, can seque into a flexible free time that allows for a variety of activities for the morning or the whole day. 

Regrouping in the afternoon, with a routine for lunch, quiet time, and individual interests let’s everyone know that after new experiences or activities there will be some individual down time.

The extended sunshine of summer can make bedtime a challenge for young children. Despite busy days and being physically tired, with the sun still in the sky, they may have a hard time recognizing betime as it approaches. Ending the day with a regular routine for transitioning to bedtime can help young bodies know it’s time for sleep.

Summer is an opportunity to loosen up, but even in the carefree days of summer a predictable family routine can help make everyone’s day a little bit easier.