Setting up a routine at home

It is possible to make the school years less stressful for both children and parents. You only have to set up a new routine at home.

Little children are on their way to school and most parents are already back to work. I know very well that every year, stress affects children as well as parents. Back-to-school often rhymes with anxiety. It is the time when parents spend most of their days in a rush, running in the morning, between school supervision services, homework and lessons, extracurricular activities, evening courses, evening routine and so forth. Don’t panic! You can look at the school year in a way that will be less stressful for the child and also for the parents. Jut put together management structures, or a routine if you prefer. With my suggestions, the whole family will have fine days.

What is a routine?

If you backtrack a little to the first years of your child, without even noticing, you had a well-established routine for your baby’s well-being: feeding, nap and bed times. This was comforting for your baby. Toddlers need stability and continuity. You did not need to picture it or write it down, it was instinctive on your part to do things that way.

First, a routine is a clear and precise schedule that defines what your child has to do and in what order he should do it. Children love when things are organized, even if they tend to complain about the rules. Routine is comforting for a child. It reduces stress and anxiety. A routine may differ from one family to another because we must take our lifestyle into account and the specific needs of each of our children and adapt it as they grow up. It is through a routine that your child will develop a sequence of good habits.

When should it be implemented?

I would tend to say as soon as possible but ideally, it should be implemented around the age of 3. At that age, children would like to control everything and feel capable of doing everything alone but they are still very dependent of adults. Your child can be obedient and charming but he can sometimes turn into a little monster. Therefore, it is important to have a schedule, a routine and tasks because three years old children can take care of a few simple tasks (pick up his toys, put his dirty clothes in the basket, water plants, wipe the table, etc.)

Ideally, children who start school in September should begin their routine at least two weeks before the first day. During the vacations and Holiday season during other occasions, the routine can change, be more flexible but after two months off, you must regain control over your child, structure and supervise him.

The benefits of having a routine

  • Through helping your child to develop a sense of time, he can anticipate the following events.
  • I suggest that separated families discuss this routine because if mom or dad or even the babysitter respects the routine but the others don’t, there will be no consistency and the anxiety of your child will increase. Everyone who surrounds your child must follow the same routine the same way.
  • It also develops his autonomy because in this routine, you will add tasks that must be respected.
  • Respecting the morning and evening routines gives your child a sense of security and stability.
Weekly sample routine (school days)





Snack + free time

Free time


Homework + lessons


Brush teeth


Put dirty clothes in basket

Get dressed

Wipe table

Sleep ritual

Help preparing lunch



When you decide to set up a routine, you can easily manage discipline. Why don’t you plan the routine along with your child? It will be easier to respect it if he built it with you.

Of course, a routine can be drawn if your child cannot read and you can integrate chores. Your child will be proud and will develop autonomy. Even if your child is little (from3 years old), he will quickly learn the sequence by heart. Ex.: “After my bath, I must put my dirty clothes in the basket” without even looking at the routine table.

Place the schedule in a central place so that your child can refer to it at any time. Positive reinforcement encourages children to pursue the routine and gives his good self-esteem.

If your child tends to be too slow when performing a task because he wants to stretch his routine (ex. He takes 15 to 20 minutes to get dressed), ask him to do it in 8 minutes and time him. If he succeeds, congratulate him.

Children who had a routine at home make their mark in school. They are children who find it easier to follow rules at school or in daycare. Homework and lessons are almost always done. They feel safe in most environments; find it easier to make contact with peers, etc.

Weekend routine

Weekend routine can be quite different. It is more flexible but still ensures supervision. It prevents a full weekend in front of the television or video games. It also allows them to explore various activities and to reserve some time to spend with your child and develop the bond that already exists. That is quality time!

Here is a sample weekend routine:

Evening Dinner Outdoor games
or drawing
Pick up toys Bath Leisure time Sleep ritual

During the holidays, weekends or unexpected events (guests, family outing, babysitter, etc.) it is important to notify the child early that the schedule will change to preserve the “secure aspect”.


  • Establish the schedule with your child.
  • Ensure consistency of all those around the child.
  • Check if your child cooperates.
  • Time your child if he seems to stretch time.
  • Encourage your child (positive reinforcement).

It is not always easy to establish a routine at home. During the first few days, in addition to creating it, you will have to ensure that your routine is respected. It may be a challenge for the whole family. But remember that a stable routine will greatly ease the supervision of your child at home and help him adapt in school.

Guylaine L'Écuyer
Special education teacher

Mother of a teenager and special education teacher who was dedicated to schools for the past 20 years, Guylaine L'Écuyer wants to demystify the vocabulary related to school, give simple tips, suggest readings and prepare us for this important milestone that is school. She holds a training certificate in TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related handicapped CHildrenand is also specialized in the attachment disorder.

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