happy girl with backpack

Fall is Here! New Starts, New Expectations, New Rules

With fall and back to school, everything changes. New schedules, new routines. This is a great time to look at what you expect of your child and how to work together to make family life run smoothly. Now is a great time to make changes in rules and limits.

Mornings are now busy, and we have to get up and out! Some kids are great at this; others need more help.  No television in the morning is very important if you have kids who do not get ready easily (TV can be a show stopper)! Some kids get sucked in and everything stops…not a good idea in the morning, when they need to be moving and getting ready for their day. Even eating breakfast in front of the TV can slow them down. No TV, unless they are all ready and waiting for when it is time to leave, then, maybe as a reward, if they can easily turn it off when it is time to go.

Afternoons should be as consistent as possible. Physical exercise is always good for many reasons. Social time is also terrific in the afternoons. Homework time should be structured. Establish when the best time for homework will be. Some kids like to get right to it after school, others need a break. However, you should not expect kids to do homework too late—they are just too tired!

Make contact with your child’s teacher(s) now. Let the teacher know you are the kind of parent who wants to be involved—any problems, you want to know, sooner, rather than later. Some parents may not want to be bothered, so teachers may hesitate to contact them until there is a major crisis. You do not want to be that parent. You also want to be very positive with your child about school. You and the teacher work together. You want to encourage your child to talk to you about any problems at school. “You know Mom and Dad are good at solving problems” They need to know they are not alone in dealing with school problems.

Now is the time to set up expectation for chores. “Summer is over, now it is important for you to do these chores every day.”  Make it clear. I love charts because kids are visual and concrete. Even young kids can set the table. Chores are important. “We are a family and we work together,” is an important message. Hold your breath because what you can do better, in two seconds, may take your child ten minutes. Don’t do it! Kids need to work and realize they are an important member of the family and that being a family member means both GIVE and take.

Review bedtimes and bedtime routines. Kids need about ten hours of sleep. With getting up early for school or day care, they need to go to bed early. Make the bed time clear and the routine easy and with a purpose. I am not a fan of big bedtime rituals. Wash, brush teeth, pajamas, read, goodnight. Keep it simple and consistent.

This is also the time of year to think about what role screen time will play in the lives of your children. How much TV, computers, video games, phone time is enough, how much is too much? Think now and set the limit and avoid conflicts later. Now is a great time to establish those limits and follow through.

We think of January 1 as the beginning of the new year, but with kids and families, the new year begins in September. So, make it a happy new year by following the guidelines above!