Three Routines for Morning, Afternoon, and Night – Ages 1-6 

illustration of a child sleeping, yawning, and brushing teeth

Let’s face it! Things are not going back to normal anytime soon. With the COVID-19 pandemic still on the rise and the talk of virtual learning for students in the fall, it’s pretty clear that parents will need to reestablish some simple routines within the house for morning, afternoon and night. Below are three specific routines that parents can adapt into their homes to help make life seem a little simpler.  

  • Morning: Make sure that your child is waking up a decent hour to get started on their day. Sleeping in is okay but make sure that it doesn’t become the norm. Take advantage of the morning to explore mindfulness with your child. A moment of deep breathing, a morning walk, yoga, meditation, or simply a moment of silence are several ways to practice mindfulness. Parents could also use positive affirmations to discuss daily goals and expectations. For example, parents could say, “We will have a great day by using kind words and sharing” to a child who may frequently argue with their sibling throughout the day. Breakfast is also a great way to get the day started, use meal times as a way to incorporate the entire family. Make a meal together or allow your child to choose between several options for breakfast.  
  • Afternoon: Although school is out for the summer, parents should still incorporate an academic routine into their family schedule. The routine should be developmentally appropriate in relation to content, as well as duration. Hours at the computer or in front of a worksheet will not ensure that your child is better prepared for school if they are constantly fidgeting and distracted. After an academic activity, take time to build your little one’s independence. Complete household chores together, such as doing the laundry or cooking. For example, have your child separate the clothes by color or check the kitchen for different ingredients that are needed to make an afternoon snack/meal. Lastly, try to include a fun activity into the afternoon that your child will enjoy. The activity can also be used as an incentive to complete less preferred tasks such as academic work. Water play, movies, board games, or tablet screen time are a few ideas for family fun.  
  • Night: Have dinner as a family at the table. When dinner is over, begin to forewarn about the next transition. Parents can possibly give their child 5-10 minutes of free time while dishes are being cleared and the kitchen cleaned. Make sure to keep track of the time with a timer or watch. Be consistent and stick to the times given. When transitioning to bedtime, a bath is a great way to signal the start of bedtime. Make sure that the routine is short and approximately 10-20 minutes. Allow your child to have a choice in the bath toys, bubbles, soap, or even music during bath time. The child may also want to select their favorite pajamas.  Afterwards, engage in dental hygiene and allow your child to use the bathroom one last time. When ushering the child to bed, have a book already prepared or a least two for the child to select from. Again, keep the bed time story short. Avoid dragging out routines. Use night light or a favorite stuff animal to help child feel secure in going to bed alone. Goodnight, sleep tight.  

By: Dr. Teneshia McIntyre 

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