Here are some daily habits for kids they can do that’ll not only make your life easier, but will teach responsibility and self-control at the same time.
If you are anything like me then you probably share a fear of mine…
The fear that we’re going to raise entitled kids.
We believe in our kids, see their potential, and know they are capable of great things… but the hard part is this.
Also, we are all too aware that our choices, rules, and family culture have a direct outcome on whether our children become entitled.
Let’s talk about what being entitled actually is for a minute.
Entitled (n): an attitude, demeanor, or air or rudeness, ingraciousness, combativeness, making excessive demand for service, feeling like you have the right to do or have what you want without having to work for it or deserve it. (combined dictionary sources)
The encouraging thing is this: when we have fair and sensible rules and boundaries – and require our kids to respect these – we help teach our children responsibility and positive habits.
This week’s post is about some habits that help create a sense of order and peace for moms who are desperately overwhelmed.
Can you relate?
- You feel like all you do all day is chase your kids around and pick up after them.
- You feel like the kids make a lot of messes, but never want to help tidy them up.
- The kids expect you to do everything for them and don’t want to try to do it on their own.
- You feel like a “victim” of your children instead of feeling like a leader.
If this is you, be encouraged, we’re going to dive into this a lot in the near future.
But for today, let’s start with a few simple habits that will bring you some much needed peace as well as teaching your children mastery over some important life and character skills.
Read: Mom Morning Routines That Bring Sanity & Order To Your Days
Daily Habits For Kids
Note: These are examples from our own house, but the sky is the limit! Think of things that cause you stress and figure out how to incorporate your children into the solution!
Peaceful Mornings… Day Time Start
There is a cumulative effect to being Woken Up With a Start.
Many moms wake up and hit the ground running.
Bandage boo boo
Comfort crying toddler
Snack time (already?)
And on and on…
Get my cheat sheets and find your family’s groove. Chore, independent play, meal, nap, bedtime, and MORE routine ideas!
This is #momlife and we wouldn’t trade it for the world, but day in and day out this can be jarring. There is something to be said for having a bit of space in the morning where you can gather yourself, pee alone, and think about the day to come.
Help prepare your kids for life, one skill at a time. Simple, easy skills every month!Learn More
A “Day Starts At X” Rule
This is one of the best daily habits for kids you can adopt. Choose a time of day that correlates well with your children’s natural wake up time, and create a rule.
No one can come out until such time. This allows you to wake up a bit earlier than that time and have peace. Read your devotional, Bible, drink your coffee alone, even just stare out the window in the calm before the storm.
Note: Of course if your children needed you, you would respond!
In My Home: This Rule In Action:
- 7:30 a.m. is our official start time.
- Anyone who wakes up earlier than this simply plays in their room or occupies themselves until it’s time to “come out.”
- If my 3 year old wakes up at 7 a.m. then I’ll give him some books to read quietly in his crib. The baby generally sleeps until this time, but if not will play with his stuffed toys. My 4, 6, and 7 year olds will read books, play with their toys, or call out from their rooms “Is it time yet?” #transparency. You can also get one of those handy clocks that lights up when your morning time starts.
- I wake up much earlier than this so I am ready to jump into Beast Mom Mode by this time. Most days I take a walk, read my devotional and Bible, and then may take time reading a novel or researching something or other.
Read: Mom Morning Routines That Keep The Calm
What does this help kids master?
- Boredom as a tool to creativity
- Respect for boundaries
Read: The Easiest Way To Get Babies And Toddlers To Sleep Later
Daily habits for kids truly make the day go by faster… here’s the next one.
Want your kids to learn to independently follow their routines? These visual routine cards do the trick.Learn More
Snack And Meal time Clean Up Rules
Serve breakfast. Clean up breakfast. Then serve snack. Clean up snack. Serve lunch. Clean up lunch. Serve snack, serve dinner, clean up wreck of a kitchen.
Once when my bestie was getting married she asked me for some words of wisdom about marriage and family life. My answer was this: it’s basically doing the same 5 or 10 things over and over and over and over again every single day. (I feel like she wanted something more romantic.)
Messes take up a lot of time for mom. They also take up a lot of emotional and mental bandwidth because – depending on your personality – messes = clutter and clutter = low level anxiety.
A clean up rule.
This might mean that you create set rules on how you want meal times to go finish. Perhaps you want all snacks to happen at the table, then bowls be taken to the sink or counter. This is a daily habit for kids that honestly is a must for moms with large families.
Read: Life Skills For Kids By Age (With Printables!)
Maybe you decide no one can leave the kitchen after meals until it’s all clean. We do this with dinner. Everyone gets a job. Put dirty dishes on counter, load dishwasher, sweep floor, wipe down table top, etc.
It’s a total manic chaotic madhouse, but we persevere in hopes it’ll eventually pay off. Also, after 15 minutes it’s totally clean and when they’re in bed I DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE.
Check off critical household, social, and hygiene skills for your child so they’re prepared (not petrified) of growing up!
What does this help kids master?
- Contribution and responsibility
- Diligence in completing chores to the family standard
- Patience and self-control to put off play until hard work is done
Read: 5 Things You Think Your Kids Can Do That They Can’t — And Vice Versa
Play Time Clean Up
All day errr day is about toys for kids. No daily routine for kids is complete without something relating to chores.
This is similar to the above rule, but it relates to toys and play.
There is no mystery here.
There is no secret sauce or phrase or word that’ll make it easier. And, there is not much you can do to get your kids excited about picking up unless they are natural cleaners.
There are endless ways to do this, but choose what best works in your home.
- No moving on to the next activity until you clean up the first one.
- Allow 2 messes, but not 3 before they gotta clean it up. (got that gem from this post which I literally printed and keep on my desk)
- Establish designed cleaning times (before nap and before bed, for example)
- Set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes each day and have everyone contribute to clean up.
Doesn’t really matter how you do it, just that you expect them to clean up their own messes. They’ll actually feel good about this, even if they complain.
What does this help kids master?
- Tidying skills
- Organization skills
- Work before play (or at least not ONLY play) mentality
The key is to make this as easy as possible. Big baskets. No micro organizing, all macro. They can quickly go around their rooms and put toys away. If it’s a toy with a lot of pieces, they can put it back in its box or another box you chose.
Unless YOU WANT TO CLEAN UP or your kids are very precise, methodical, and older don’t color coordinate or you’ll end up having to do it all yourself. You know your kids, if they are willing to keep the color coordination, go for it!
If not, ditch it.
Read: How To Teach Kids To Play On Their Own
Rest Time (Your Soon To Be Favorite Part Of Your Kids Daily Routine)
For the introverted, a stay at home mom near burnout, or simply easily overwhelmed… rest time is key. This is a daily habit your kids must take hold of for your own sake.
And for theirs.
But even if it was ONLY for you, that’s okay.
If you’re home all day with your kids, put them to nap or rest at the same time. Then you can get at least a couple of hours of rest, peace and quiet, or time to yourself. After all morning with my 5 kids (7 years old and under) I am in need of silence. I gotta have it.
Read: Quiet time (Rest time) for Toddlers: All You Need to Know
Do you forget to sleep, bathe, eat, relax, etc.? NO MORE. This tracker will help you consistently live within your limits so you have more love to give to your family.
Keys To Rest Time:
- Give older children clear boundaries. They can play in their rooms quiet, read books, or go to a designated area, but they can’t be loud or come out of the area you’ve put them in.
- Put all babies and toddlers down to nap at basically the same time. This means they need to learn to go to sleep on their own. But you can handle that. It’ll make your life a whole lot easier for many reasons.
- Set a realistic time period. It may be one hour, maybe two, but go with what your children can handle.
- Remember, they may fight it at first (they likely will) but they will begin to love it. No sharing, nobody messing with them, no fighting for supremacy. They are masters of their own world.
- If everyone doesn’t have their own room, choose random rooms of the house, doesn’t matter which. Where possible, don’t have them do rest time together. It will not likely be restful.
Read: My “Daily Escape” to a Quiet Place & Why It’s Necessary
If you work during the day and need 15 minutes of peace when you get home, have rest time then. Don’t use it if you don’t need it, but bring it out as a way to give everyone a bit of recharge.
Read: How To Get Everyone To Nap At The Same Time Every Day
Emergency Re-calibration Habits
Kids are gonna get rowdy.
That’s good. Shows they have life, they have energy, they want to experience the fun things in life.
There is also a time and place to be loud and wild and often times you need to calm the kids down for a bit. If you begin to feel like you’re losing it, you need some tricks up your sleeve. If you can intervene before it gets too loud and crazy, you’ll be one step ahead.
Then, if you can work these into your kids’ normal daily habits around the time that the kids always lose it, you’ll be 10 steps ahead.
Emergency Re-calibration Tips
- Everybody sit with a book. We will ask our kids to grab a book (or 5) and pick a seat and read or look at pictures with no talking. It does require some “shhhh” ing, but overall they get it.
- Go outside time. If they are loud and wild and hyper let them run free and play. Even if you have to supervise it for a bit, noise outside doesn’t grate quite so much as screaming inside.
- Read aloud together. While this may feel annoying because you actually want to move away from your kids for peace, sometimes reading aloud together is soothing. They will quiet down for a story and you can feel fondly of them again since they aren’t running around wild. The more you do, the longer they’ll be able to do it.
- Give them a minute of loud crazy then make them pipe down. “Whew, you guys are loud. Y’all really got some things to get out. I’ll set the timer for one minute and I want you to yell and scream and fuss and stomp as loud as you can. After that, we’re done.”
- Alone time. Even our kids are recharged by alone time. If they simply can’t handle being around everyone without flipping out or fussing or screaming, let them go to their room with a favorite toy or two and reset.
Read: 5 Simple Ways To Calm Your Hyper Kids
“This Before That” General Rule Of Thumb
So… if you’re thinking how on earth do I start these habits, I want to offer one final parting word of advice.
Do the less fun before the more fun.
Do chores before TV time.
Clean up before outside time.
Do every thing before screen time.
Organize your day the “South African way”.
This means you organize your daily routine with toddlers and preschoolers so that they’re doing the fun stuff after they do the hard stuff. Work first play later, if you will. If you are struggling with where to begin, choose one of your kid’s daily habits or routines, and shove it in front of something fun they like.
This’ll be your fastest path to success.
Read: Avoid Parenting Battles The South African Way
You’ve got this, mom…
If you’ve been feeling like you are a shell of a person and slave to the little people you birthed and you just want some stinking peace and help… you can have it.
Kids will do what they’ve been trained (by us) to do.
If you’ve inadvertently trained them to do nothing for themselves, then you can
advertently (okay that’s not a word)… purposefully train them to help out. To respect your need for some quiet.
You will be happier.
They will feel more responsible and therefore happier.
The home will run more smoothly.
Want to Help Your Child Learn Their Routines?
If you want to give your child some visual clues to help them learn their own routine without the nagging… these printable routine cards will help.
Grab your cards, print them onto cardstock, laminate them using this inexpensive laminator, and put them up so your children can get set learning their routine.
Inside the routine cards you’ll get visual routine for:
- Morning routine
- Bedtime routine
- Mealtime routine
- Chores routine
- Playtime routine
PLUS you can actually edit them in Word or Pages to add more elements that’ll fit your own routine.
And since they are printable, you can re-print a new set any time you want for as many kids as you want!
Take our 3 day challenge to create life-giving family, child, and self-care routines.Learn More
I absolutely love this! Not just the advice (I have 4 boys under 6) but also your writing voice. Very real. Thanks!
Rachel Norman says
Thank you so much, Katrina :)
hollie chan says
Rachel, you spoke to me on this one! I’ve been following you for a while and I absolutely LOVE that you’ve added videos!! I have 3 boys under the age of 4 and you are my inspiration, woman! I think to myself, “well, if Rachel can do it with 5, I can certainly handle 3!” Thanks mama!
Rachel Norman says
Girl, you may even handle it better. I just talk about it. HA!
Cyndal Potter says
Hi Rachel, I love your website and have been following quietly, but now need to write sth because this absolutely comes at the right time! We only have two boys (2 and 4) so far, but since we’re living in a small apartment while our house is being built these two can turn the whole place upside down in no time at all! I feel like I need twice as long to clean up as they take to make a mess. While my younger son is still in that phase where they love to help out with cleaning etc, my older one has recently been very defiant, telling me “no, you clean it up!” when I ask him to do something. I think this resonates with your other post on your 4th child being self-redirected – that’s totally my first-born! I would love to hear more on how you address this issue! Also, I know you’re home with your kids most days. I work outside the home until noon while my kids are at daycare. I would like some peace and quiet before starting the afternoon with them, but also feel bad for making them stay in their room by themselves after they were away all morning – plus they seem to really hate it, they pretty much spend the whole 30mins whining or sitting by the door asking if it’s time to come out yet. How would you handle this?
I loved the article and all of the suggestions. I’m going to start the wake up time and force myself to get out of bed before the kids because it really is better than waking up to whining. I have 3 kids–3.5 year old twin boys and a 1 year old daughter. The boys are potty training. What do you do when potty training toddlers wake before the start time? Let them go to the potty and then back to their room? Or put a little potty in their room and tell them they can use it on their own? I just don’t want to sabotage our potty training efforts since they are waking up dry a lot of mornings.
This is well written and gave me a great lightbulb moment (thank you, and I’m super grateful that you made the visual routine cards).
I’ve always had this as a philosophy but didn’t have any practical idea to implement and it’s been sporadic and with too much yelling.
I really love your writing style and perspective on parenting. Do you have more posts about discipline that are similar to this post?
Great post – thank you! I have also read a lot of your sleep posts but I’m curious, do you have a post or any advice about room-sharing? I read your post suggesting putting kids to nap in separate areas, getting creative with the rooms you use, etc. but I’m wondering when would be a good time to transfer my 2 month old into her 2.5yr old sister’s room for overnight sleeping. I put my 2 year old into her crib in her own room at 3 months old and it was perfect and seamless. I’m wondering how it will work out putting the new baby in with her.
Great practical ideas. Thanks for sharing.
Himali Parikh says
yes definitely having a rule and developing clean habits help a lot. I have done this with my daughter and it helps me a lot. I get me time for myself and my house is also in a sane condition. no too much cleaning.
Madison Wetmore says
I am truly praising God that I found your blog. I have a 5 week of and am a FTM. I have been creating bad habits and sleep props (so many!) without realizing it. Even our doctor told us we “can’t spoil her before 3 months”. I didn’t realize that our actions are creating bad habits that will become harder and harder for her to break. I just bought your bundle (so excited!) and am going to begin trying to break our habits and replace them with good sleep associations.
Rachel Norman says
Hi Madison, I want you to know that you are doing just fine. You are doing wonderfully. Even if you did carry on EXACTLY as you are now with the habits and they wound up causing trouble, you could always change those habits later, though you would have more of a fuss. So BRAVO for making changes you feel are healthy!! What a fantastic mama!
It gorgeous article, I learnt allot from it
thanks a million ?
Loved everything about this ! First time mom w a 5 mth old and my worry before becoming a parent was “How am I going to discipline and raise a responsible hard working human ?” Thank you for writing clear, concise information and adding the skills learned . I really enjoy reading your blogs and emails
Your articles are very helpful. You are an answered prayer. Keep on!