Bye-Bye Holidays, Hello Routines: Getting Kids Back into the Groove

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The kids are back in school and the holidays are all but a distant memory: Now what? Karen Wagner, APRN, offers specific tips about getting kids back to their routines in the post-holiday-hustle-and-bustle.

Are you finding the kids struggling with bedtime routines? Having trouble getting them to tackle homework? There’s a simple reason: The holidays messed with their mojo! Here, we talk with Nurse Practitioner Karen Wagner about what to do to get them back on the straight and narrow. 

Why Routines Are Important

“Holidays are a fantastic time to get together with family and friends, so our routines are usually off — and this is understandable, “Wagner says. “While the holidays are exciting, they are chaotic and can put our kids out of the routines.”

So how do you get kids back into those routines they crave? 

“Consistency/routines are crucial for our kids,” she says. “Most people — kids and adults —  experience a let-down feeling after the holidays, and post-holiday adjustment takes time.”

So what can we do, specifically? Wagner recommends the following: 

  • Re-establish family routines, including before- and after-school programs or child care routines. Once kids are back on the regular schedule, they’ll find that sense of familiarity as the old routine returns. But keep in mind, this won’t happen overnight. 
  • Encourage healthy eating, as the upheaval of their schedule can be offset by a balanced diet. 
  • Make sleep time a priority: Keep in mind that it might take up to three nights of strict bedtime to get them back on track. But enforcing normal bedtime will get their bodies back on a normal schedule. 
  • Return to usual chores and expectations. Nothing encourages a return to routine like reminding them of the basics. 
  • Incorporate indoor and outdoor time. They likely spent lots of time outdoors during our unseasonably warm winter break — and they even had a snow day or two! So encouraging both indoor and outdoor time will help them return to a circadian rhythm and tire them out from exposure to fresh air. 

“It is never too early to encourage a love for physical activity in kids by exposing them to fun fitness activities and sports,” Wagner says. “Physical activity improves bone health, cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, decreases levels of body fat, reduces symptoms of depression, and improves cognitive skills and the ability to concentrate.”

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