Health & Family

Ease your family back into school-time routines

With school back in session, it's time to get things back on schedule in the evenings. Try these tips from parenting consultant Bonnie Harris, author of the forthcoming book “Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You'll Love to Live With”:

— First and foremost, include even very young children in the decision process. Find out what works for them as well as letting them know what works for you.

— Design your individual body clocks, including your own. Talk about or draw each of your “clocks” (when they like to wake up and go to sleep; when their alarms need to go off and how they like or dislike that, etc.). Discuss how different or alike each of your body clocks are.

— Make a bedtime routine chart, including times. Ask what their favorite bedtime routines are, and if they would like to change anything this year. Write everything down using pictures for pre-readers.

— Consider your child's agendas — what they might be thinking, going through, anticipating. Even if you don't know, guess. See bedtimes and school mornings from behind her eyes. Be considerate of what she might be dealing with — from her slow temperament to any possible school concerns, to sugary foods that might need earlier digesting.

— Create morning routine charts as well.

— If mornings are typically stressful, call a meeting sometime after school and before bedtime. Acknowledge how difficult mornings are for all of you and that you know they don't like your nagging as much as you don't like running late and getting angry.

— Ask each child what would make the morning routine easier. Each child may have a different idea. If they don't know, make a couple of suggestions to get it going.