Routine and Organization: Advice for Single and FIFO Parents - Child behavioural experts are in agreement that children flourish when their lives have structure and routine. It gives them an important sense of security and constancy, particularly in situations where parents are divorced and the children are trying to get used to the “new normal.” Single parents or FIFO parents often struggle to maintain a routine, particularly when parents come back or return to their FIFO work or in the wake of a divorce or separation that has everyone feeling disconnected and unstable. Sam from Sinchies is a FIFO parent and knows first hand that sometimes it's a struggle getting back into routine when Daddy returns back from work. "When he's away our routine is kept the same and there are less struggles, when he is home the routine is thrown out and little Miss becomes more defiant because she clearly doesn't know what's going on and what's coming up next" Yet the establishment of a healthy routine offers the best hope for giving your children that feeling of safety and permanency they need to grow and develop. And it’s your best hope, as a single parent, for getting things under control, for maintaining discipline, and establishing a valid home environment for you and your kids. That means setting and sticking to a daily schedule that includes chores, homework, dinner, computer time and bedtime. The more you’re able to hold to that routine, the more smoothly things will flow and the better you’ll be able to manage it all. And you’ll find it easier to manage your stress, a common problem among single parents. Dinnertime Many families function around this symbolic touchstone of unity, arranging their schedules around this one time of day when everyone’s able to come together. It’s a time for eating healthy food and visiting together, for sharing experiences, dealing with problems, and making plans. Children have equal opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings, and it’s a time for you to encourage and advise your kids when they’re having trouble, to commend and reward them for notable achievements and good behaviour, and for having a little fun after a long, hard day before everyone settles in for the evening. Studies have shown that children from families that have dinner together every night gain a stronger sense of well-being than those from families that don’t spend this time together. Dinner should be the centerpiece of your daily routine, so don’t allow the children to wander off into the TV room, or to their bedrooms to text friends or play video games. It’ll also benefit you because it helps you relate to your children on a very human level, not just as a disciplinarian. Homework time Making sure your kids do their homework is easier if you set up a reliable routine. Some parents insist their kids get homework done before dinner; others work it in between dinner and bedtime. Whatever time you establish, make sure it’s a non-negotiable responsibility for everyone. That means spending time helping your kids with homework assignments, checking on upcoming tests, organizing school projects, and dealing with any problems they may be having with teachers or fellow students. Staying involved in their schoolwork helps your kids’ performance and lets them know you’re interested in how they’re doing. It’s also an opportunity to impart organizational skills they may not be picking up at school. Bedtime Getting your kids to bed at the same time each night can be a problem, especially if you have kids in different age ranges. The younger ones are sometimes jealous and don’t understand why they have to go to bed when their older siblings get to stay up a bit longer. You can mitigate the complaining by “winding down” to bedtime, allowing a 30-minute runway during which you help them settle down by reading a book together, playing cards or a game such as Magna-Tiles, or chatting quietly until it’s time to turn out the lights. Make sure all electronic devices are shut off and put away for the night. If your child is afraid of the dark, try having him sleep with a favorite stuffed animal and keep a night light on in their room. Sticking to a daily routine helps single parents and children settle into a schedule and adapt to life after divorce. As a single parent, getting everyone organized will help you keep your stress under control. It’ll also make you a more effective and nurturing parent. Courtesy of Pixabay.com.