Family routines

5min read

The thought of creating a family routine may feel daunting, or too formal. However, establishing a positive family routine can help everyone to feel at ease. It may also help to relieve family tension and reduce conflict. The predictability of a routine can also help children to feel more secure and confident. 

Key Points:

  • Routines can help to relieve family stress and help children to feel safe and secure
  • Everyone’s routine will be different depending on what suits you as a family unit
  • Routines do not have to be rigid and regimented, they can be flexible and changeable depending on your family’s needs

What is a family routine?

A routine is a plan for your family so everyone knows when things are happening, and who is involved. Your routine can be as detailed or as straightforward as you feel is appropriate. 

Perhaps you or your children have regular activities they attend, or they need to complete homework on certain days. Maybe you all have dinner together on a Friday, or you have a simple bath, book, bed routine for the end of the day - it’s these regular and repeated patterns that can help everyone to understand their role, and to plan ahead.

It is important to remember that routines are not always about chores, families may have special rituals, leisure time and fun activities that are all valuable parts of their routine. 

Your routine could simply be a written list or a calendar that can be placed somewhere for everyone to see. It can be fun to get the children involved and help create a poster with drawings of the activities for the routines. They will enjoy being a part of the planning process.

How to introduce a routine

Think about the goals you have in mind, for example:

  • Getting everyone to bed by 9pm
  • Ensuring all homework is completed on time
  • Getting to events on time
  • Turning off devices before dinner

Next you can consider who is involved and timings. For example, if you have a child who takes a long time to get ready in the morning can they get up a little earlier? Could they pack their bag the night before, and put their uniform out ready? You can list each step for your child, and a time, so they have their own routine to follow.

Encourage the whole family to work together to create the routine. Ask each family member what is most important for them so you can add this onto the list. Allow them to contribute the timings if you are adding these on. For example, brushing your teeth will be 5 mins at 7.30 am.

It can take time for the routine to work, you may need to write it down for each child if they have individual tasks, or to remind everyone to begin, until it becomes a habit. It can be easy to give up on a routine as soon as there is resistance, however it will take time for everyone to get used to the changes. 

Advantages of a family routine

Routines can strengthen your family unit by creating a stable, predictable and safe environment. They can relieve the stress caused by last minute rushing to be somewhere or to get something done.

Routines can also ensure your child remembers to take care of themselves, for example brushing teeth, getting enough sleep or eating regular meals. It can help your child or teen to create healthy habits.

Giving little jobs and chores to the children can also help them develop essential life skills and help them become independent. It also can give them a sense of responsibility which can help boost their confidence.

A calm, secure environment at home can give your child the confidence they need to challenge themselves in the outside world, knowing they have the safety net of home to fall back on.

Things to consider

It is important that the tasks and activities that you introduce are age appropriate and simple.

For younger children, it can be simple tasks such as brushing their teeth, bath time, reading together and play time.

For primary aged children, it can be little chores, device timings, bedtimes, hobbies and interests.

For teens, it can be spending offline time, doing chores, homework, getting up in the morning and bedtimes.

Our top tips

  • Your child or teen may need help with the new routine, especially if they are younger and they need time to learn new skills
  • Routines can and will need to change sometimes, especially as children get older
  • Ensure your routine is realistic and achievable
  • Routines do not have to be limited to chores and tasks. You can build time into your routine for relaxation, family time, free time, and fun

Further resources

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at askus@familylives.org.uk or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker.

Watch our video on dealing with the morning rush and establishing a positive family routine

Arguments and disagreements

Health and wellbeing

Stress, anxiety & depression

Family relationships

Becoming a step-family