I want to teach my kids about responsibility and taking good care of themselves, their belongings, and their environment. I want them to learn to clean up after themselves. But somehow at the end of some nights, I still find myself staring at a messy, toy-filled living room floor. It’s not that I don’t ask my kids to put their stuff away. I do, sometimes. And sometimes I’m met with some version of “not right now” or “but I want to leave those out for tomorrow.” Or, sometimes it gets too close to bedtime, and I’d rather get them to bed than have them clean-up. Other times, I’m just tired. Cleaning up the chaos feels like a bit too much to do at the end of the day.
But, I want them to eventually take care of themselves and their belongings. It’s something our family values. And we have to start somewhere.
So, I made some routines with my kids to help them build consistent habits that are in line with those values. These routines created more ease in our relationship and in our home.
How could you best do this too? First, take a bird’s eye view and consider these questions. What do you want to teach your kids? What values are you hoping to impart? When are the times you’d like to replace frustration with calm? Pick one area, and make a successful routine around it with these steps:
4 Steps for Successful Routines to Help Kids Build Consistent Habits
- Make it fun. Usually we’re trying to make a routine around something that’s causing a problem. Kids can’t or don’t want to do the thing that’s causing an issue. To help with this, use rewards or privileges after a routine is complete. It’ll increase kids’ motivation. And keep everything more light and positive. You don’t need to use a material reward (although you can – the dollar store, department store clearance, or stickers (#ad) are great for this). Maybe for completing a morning routine, they get the privilege of picking their own breakfast. Or maybe it’s a bear hug or jumping high five after they complete what they need to do. Choose what works for your child and your family.
- KIS(S) – Keep It Simple Silly. Sometimes we can get overzealous in our plans and what we ask of our kids. If you’re forming a new habit, think about only 1-2 steps at a time. We wouldn’t expect to finish a marathon after doing a 2-mile training run. Pick one thing, with only 1 or 2 steps to start. Like, take your plate to the sink. Not clear everyone’s from the table and load them into the dishwasher. When there’s success with smaller steps, then add on more until you get to your full goal.
- Make it easy. Do it at the same time each day or on the same day of the week. The consistency of when it happens will help solidify the habit.
- Make it visual. Have a visual reminder of the routine. It might be on a calendar (#ad). Or it might be a picture of what needs to be done, near where it needs to happen. Or maybe it’s both. Visual reminders will decrease the reminders and directions from parents, giving kids more agency over their own routine, building a more lasting habit.