How To; Creating Routines For Parents

Special ed- How To; Creating Routines For Parents

Routines and organization are important for everyone, and as we know, even more so for children with special needs.

However, it’s difficult for your child to have a routine if you don’t have one for yourself!

So, before you try to implement routines with your child(ren), make sure you have a routine in place for yourself, and a solid idea of the routine you’d like to create for them. These suggestions should help you create this routine for yourself, and in turn, set you up for success when you’re ready to implement it with your child.

4 Steps To Creating Routines For Parents;

1. Determine the Ideal Schedule – First things first: determine what your ideal schedule looks like. And write it down. At this point, be detailed. Very detailed. Start from getting up and what that routine looks like straight through to bedtime routines. Don’t forget to include things like weekly activities or appointments, fun outings and even “quiet time” throughout the day.

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It is likely easiest to do this in a notebook. Remember that the weekend and weekday routines may look different, as well as routines during the school year and summer routines. While the detail needed depends on the age of your children and what, if any, routines are already in place, it doesn’t hurt to be more specific at first, at least at this stage, just to help you map it out.

2. Make it Visual – Now that you have an idea what your ideal routine looks like, you want to think about exactly what level of detail you need to include on your visual: for you and your children!

Perhaps the list you need looks different than the one you’ll make for your child. And that’s okay. Use checklists to help you get into a routine first. You want to make sure it flows for you, and you can model the routine before you expect your children to do it.

For example, if mornings are tough, find a way to get done what you need to for you first, and write this down and follow it each day, then get your children up and their day started. This way, you’re able to help model their routines for them because what you need to do for you, will already be done. Likewise, as you’re deciding what the best routine is for your children, write it down and follow it each day, making changes as needed until you find the one that flows the best, for all of you!

3. Set visual/auditory reminders – Now that you’ve got an idea what your routine needs to look like, now you have to remember to follow it!

This is likely the hardest part! If you’re not naturally a routine oriented person, it might be helpful to set reminders on your phone and/or use post-its around your house to help you remember what you want to do, and when, until it becomes automatic.

Once it becomes automatic, you can likely eliminate some of those extra reminders and just use one visual – which will likely come into play more when you’re working through establishing the routines with your children.

4. Know Your Strengths/Needs – This goes along with #3. If you know a certain time of day and/or part of the routine is going to be the most difficult for you, acknowledge that and put something in place to help you get better with this part. This might be a good time to set auditory reminders on your phone so you remember to do certain things!

For example, if you know remembering appointments is hard for you, even if they are the same time/day each week, set a timer to go off prior to the activity and leave it somewhere everyone will hear it.

Hopefully following these suggestions will help you first create a routine that will work for you, and in turn, eventually help you establish a routine with your child(ren). Don’t forget to take the necessary time to establish your own routine first, before you try to work on it with your children. This way, you will all be set up for success!


What have you used to make routines easier in your life?

~ Diana Chase

Picture of Diana Chase, M.S.

Diana Chase, M.S.

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