“My jaw hit the floor,” said Beth. “I couldn’t believe she was talking about my kid.” My friend Beth’s son, Connor, is a handful, so when his teacher commented one afternoon that she would “love to have a classroom filled with kids just like him,” Beth didn’t know what to think. I had a hunch I knew what might be causing Connor’s dual personality because I’d just been researching consistency in parenting and I saw a lot of red flags in Connor’s life.
I figured he was so great at school because there was a structure there that enabled him to thrive. Beth agreed. She saw it. It wasn’t her fault, though. Her husband’s odd schedule as a firefighter kept the family from having a routine. But instead of dwelling on what she couldn’t control, she thought about where she could make changes. These are the 5 areas she decided she could work on adding more routine and consistency in parenting her kiddo.
On her husband’s day off, he’d handle afternoon pick-up, which was great, but he’d also take Connor for ice cream. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat and quality time with Dad, of course, but Connor didn’t know from one day to the next if he was getting an after-school treat or coming home to dive right into spelling words and math facts. They decided to limit the excursions and have a consistent snack and homework routine.
This consistency in parenting will pay off big if your kids tend to grumble through homework. They know what to do when they walk in the door and you don’t have to give orders. Once homework is done, they’re free to play. iMOM’s Homework Magic printable is a cute way to display your after-school steps.
2. Mom’s Demeanor
This is the one that’s hardest for Beth, and any mom really. The higher our stress, the shorter our fuse. Beth said she’s quick to snap at Connor and send him to timeout when her husband is on day two of being at work. I don’t blame her.
This consistency in parenting doesn’t involve Connor at all. Beth decided to take a walk at lunchtime to get fresh air and she also started working on her breathing. She said she noticed she’d go all day and never take a deep breath. Working on her stress level helped her have a consistent demeanor which gives Connor a sense of peace.
If there’s one set of rules with one parent and another set with the other parent, you can expect a rebellious kid. This is a big reason Connor thrived at school. He knew what was expected of him and it never changed.
If there’s one set of rules with one parent and another set with the other parent, you can expect a rebellious kid.
So Beth, her husband, and Connor came up with household rules and posted them. The rules covered screen time, chores, and even whether they could eat dinner in front of the TV (yes on Fridays!). When Beth is tired and doesn’t feel like enforcing the rules, having the reminder there motivates her to stay consistent and work toward their goal. This cute habit tracker for kids can help your kids create a consistent chore routine.
4. Before Bed
This is a big one for Beth. On the nights when her husband’s at work, Connor would curl up and fall asleep with her. But when Dad’s home, Connor has to sleep in his bed, which led to chaotic bedtimes. Beth told Connor he’s big enough to stay in his own bed and they settled on a few nighttime rituals to make tuck-in time memorable whether Dad’s there or not. The only difference is that on the nights when Dad’s away, they say an extra prayer for him and the other firefighters.
A bedtime routine has far-reaching benefits. Not only does it lead to better quality and longer sleep, it helps improve memory and cognitive skills and makes for a more peaceful end to the day.
Add sweet conversation to your bedtime routine with iMOM’s 30 Day Pillow Talk Challenge.
5. Sunday Mornings
Beth admittedly hates taking Connor to church alone, so if her husband has to work, she’ll often skip. But she says the Sundays they don’t go feel chaotic from start to finish, so she came up with a solution. She and a friend whose kids are grown sync up calendars so she always has someone to sit with.
Going to church ensures that there’s still some structure to the weekend. This consistency in parenting will not only benefit the present, but it will also have lasting effects on your child. Researchers found that people who attended weekly religious services or practiced daily prayer in their youth reported greater life satisfaction and positivity in their 20s than people raised with less regular habits.