HOW TO DEAL EFFECTIVELY WITH HOMEWORK AND BEDTIME ROUTINE
Homework and bedtime routine are among the most difficult times that a family can experience. In some families, screaming, bickering, and crying happen daily. When everyone is coming home tired and cranky, homework and getting ready for bed can be truly challenging and nerve-wracking. However, some thoughtful and consistent changes can make a difference for everyone.
Here are a few tips to lower the stress at home in the evening:
1. Hold a family meeting. Your goal is to set expectations and establish rules so that homework and bedtime routine are handled with as little stress as possible. Be precise about what your child should do once she gets back from school. Ask about her opinion. If you make collaborative decisions with your child, she will be more likely to follow the new rules. If your child complains about homework, empathize with her, but remind her that it needs to be done. Working together should alleviate her burden.
2. Allow play time. When your child comes home after school, she needs time to decompress. Discuss with her the amount of time that she needs to refuel her energy before starting homework. She may also need a snack. Pick healthy food items and stick to them. It is important to respect the agreed time limit so that your child knows when to start her homework.
3. Divide homework into doable sections. It is usually helpful to determine what your child wants to start on first, what she wishes to work on after dinner or chores, and if necessary, what to finish up later in the evening. Your child may need a break in between assignments. Younger children may need to set a timer (probably around 15 minutes). When it goes off, your child needs to resume her homework. Older children can set their own breaks and go back to work once the break is over.
4. Teach your child to be organized. Once homework is completed, it should go into backpacks along with school books. Signed permission slips, snacks, water bottles, sport/gym gear should be ready for the following day. Starting at around 8, your child can create her own checklist that will help her get organized in the evening and double check in the morning.
5. Establish bedtime and “Get ready” time. Devise a nighttime plan to which everyone should adhere on a school night. This includes a bedtime and a set time to get ready before your child is in bed. On one hand, your child needs enough time so that she will not feel rushed. On the other hand, she should not have too much time to get herself distracted. Picking out clothes for the following day can be part of your child’s routine; it may prevent hassles in the morning.
Having a family evening plan is a key to reducing the stress and rush of most school evenings. Some nights, it will be impossible to follow it, but having a plan that is realistic and reliable will make a noticeable difference in your family life. Remember that the plan is not set in stone and can be revised at any time by all members of the family.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.