Oftentimes adults view the term ‘routine’ in a negative fashion because we associate it with boredom and repetition. But children thrive on routines. The predictability they find within structured routines makes them feel secure, comfortable and in control.
Routines, to a great degree, develop out of your own family’s daily habits. They can be the framework that makes your family life run more smoothly. As routines are established and your child learns how to do things for himself a sense of accomplishment and self-worth are instilled. As he learns to dress, feed, bathe and toilet by himself, he begins the journey towards independence.
Try these suggestions to help establish your family’s routines:
- Get up at the same time each day.
- Encourage personal grooming habits such as brushing teeth, combing hair, washing his face, and getting dressed.
- Try to schedule enough time in the morning for a family breakfast.
- Take the same route to school or daycare each day.
- Say goodbye and hello with a kiss, a hug, an “I love you”, or some other affectionate gesture (i.e. a “secret signal” that is shared between you and your child).
- Set aside a particular place and time for homework.
- As often as possible have the evening meal at the same time each day. Assign specific chores such as setting and clearing the table. Utilize this opportunity to connect with your children by discussing the family’s day and plans for tomorrow.
- Consider set food days, like spaghetti every Thursday night.
- Get your children in the habit of picking up after themselves. Even toddlers can put away toys or place their socks in a laundry basket.
- Try to make time after dinner each night to engage in a fun family activity. It can be as simple as a game of cards, working on a hobby together, or playing ball outside together.
- Bedtime routines can be extremely beneficial. They help everyone settle down, and can create a time that is peaceful and conflict free. For example, children can bathe and get dressed for bed, then have a book read before lights out!
Every family is unique. Therefore, your family’s routines may be very different from the family next door. The important thing is that there are routines! Keep in mind however, there will be days when routines may be impossible. Most of the time children can handle these changes well, but sometimes they may become cranky and irritable. Make an effort to return to the usual routine as soon as possible, and they should soon be back on track.