Consistency offers stability to your kids when they need it the most.
For most families, structure is a part of everyday life. We have a schedule and routine that work for our home. Your family rhythms may look totally different than next door, and they should. Each person in your house is unique and has different needs. One cookie cutter schedule does not fit all.
In the middle of our structure and routine, it is important for parents to maintain consistency or else the structure will fail.
Below are 10 practical ways for you to show consistency in your home. Note: There are always exceptions, so be flexible.
If your house is anything like mine, mornings can represent how the rest of the day will go. Having consistency in our morning routine has helped us start the day with more potential for positivity. My wife’s mom would hug her each morning at the bottom of the stairs. Now, I watch my wife hug our kids each morning in the same way. Consistency matters. Our kids know that they are not allowed to come downstairs until 7:00 am. Also, during school days they are not allow to watch TV before school. The key here is to build in a morning plan that fits and works for you and your family, because mornings are important.
We all have to eat, and we want to make mealtime meaningful. Be consistent on where you eat and what you eat. If you have picky eaters, make sure you are consistent in how you respond to them. It’s not fair to make your kids sit at the table until they eat all their broccoli on Monday and then Tuesday give in and let them put their plates in the sink. Have a plan and stick to it. In the same way, location matters. Be consistent in where you eat. Early on, we let our kids eat wherever they wanted, then we were frustrated when they wouldn’t stay seated at the table. It was our fault, not theirs, because we hadn’t showed them how to sit and eat at the dinner table. Remember, be reasonable and flexible with mealtime.
When it is time to go to bed, we say three things every night. Drink. Potty. Brush. Then get in your bed. Our kids say it with us. Drink, Potty, Brush! We send them upstairs, and when I stop hearing footsteps I go upstairs and tuck them in. This helps them wind down and know it’s time to go to sleep. As my kids are getting older, we will let the read in their beds a little bit. The key is being consistent in bedtime procedures and when they go to bed.
This one is tough some days. They drive you crazy, so when they drop the Lego set for the tenth time, you banish them to their rooms for the rest of the day. Often, the punishment doesn’t match the crime. Make sure you are consistent in how you discipline. If you have multiple children, you will start to hear the phrase “That’s not fair.” Consistency is important for mom and dad, too. You have to be on the same page with your spouse or this will cause even more chaos in your home.
What chores do you expect your kids to do? Do they do them each week or each month? Consistency here allows for disciplined behavior. My oldest son knows that on Tuesdays and Fridays, his job is to take the trash to the curb. When we tell him, “It is Tuesday,” he knows he needs to go and take the trash out. Also, don’t make big elaborate plans for your kids to help around the house in January and by March, no one does any of it. Follow up and follow through.
My kids ask for a snack almost every five minutes. We have found that building structure helps our kids take ownership and responsibility of this simple request. Every day at 10:00am and 3:00pm, they are allowed to have a snack from the snack shelf. It’s amazing how quickly they learn to tell time.
7. Technology Limits
During the school year, we allow the kids to be on iPads/tablets one day a week. This is usually Saturdays. They also know that they can lose iPad privileges if they mess up during the weeks, so we also use technology to help with discipline.
8. Family Time
When is your designated family time? I have a friend who leverages after school each day as family only time. Our kids love Friday family fun night! We try our best to do something fun on Friday nights together. Our kids come home from school asking us what the plan is for the night, and sometimes we let them plan it. The key is to make it consistent and memorable.
Part of the bedtime routine with our kids is prayer. Each night we ask, “Who’s going to pray first?” The first person that says, “Me!” gets to start and picks the next person and that person picks who follows them. This is a consistent part of our day. Also, every day at 1:30pm, I have an alarm on my phone to remind me to pray for my kids. Some days I’m in meetings and can’t pray at that second, but it’s a consistent reminder to pray for my kids.
10. God Moments
God moments are unplanned opportunities to talk to your kids about the Lord. Something happens at school or on the playground that you can leverage to talk about God. The challenge is for us as parents to have our hearts in a good place in order to recognize those moments. The key is for us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, so that we can disciple our kids when the unplanned moments happened.