Before I get into what this post is about I’d like to make a HUGE note here: I do not, IN ANY WAY, think that I am an expert on parenting. I have a few kids, and I have read a few books. That’s about it. I have great parents, and I know what has worked for them and what has worked for my husband and me. I am not saying anything I type here is the best way or the only way. It’s the way that works for us, and I’d like to share in case there is someone looking for another perspective on parenting. I am always learning new things and am open to suggestions, so please feel free to share what works for you!
As a parent, I am concerned often about whether or not I am effective in my parenting. It is a tough job, and I know I fail a lot. We change things when we realize they aren’t working, and we try something new. There are, however, a few things I will never change because I know they are what is best for us to be the best parents and to raise responsible children.
Today, I just want to share with you about ROUTINES and why I think they’re important. I have met several moms recently, who admittedly have no routine….and then go on to say they feel out of control some mornings. I usually want to jump into the conversation and suggest they find a routine with the kids, but I bite my tongue so I don’t sound too preachy. I am still learning and think maybe giving parenting advice during an initial meeting of someone may not be the best first impression. 🙂 But, the next time I see them….watch out! (kidding…)
Here are 3 reasons I think routines are essential:
1. Kids know what to expect each day and may have less anxiety. The more people I meet, the more I hear about anxiety. This world is filled with things to make kids anxious. They worry enough about school and friends and growing up. Giving them a solid daily routine can help them know what’s happening and give them some peace about how their day is going to go.
2. Routines can help quell the urge to act out. If my kids know that when they get up, they should be making their beds and getting dressed before they can come down for breakfast I believe it helps keep them from acting up first thing in the morning. If they know that after breakfast they need to brush their teeth and hair before they can watch a cartoon or go play in the basement, I have seen they are less likely to start an argument with their siblings or whine to me about something….because they want to go play. If they know 8:00PM is bedtime, there’s fewer bouts of throwing fits because their bedtime is almost always 8:00.
When kids know what to expect out of the day, I believe it helps suppress their urge to make a scene about things. They have less anxiety, which leads to fewer outbursts.
3. Routines save MOM’s sanity! I absolutely, without a doubt, most definitely NEED a routine for my day. When my kids don’t know what activities are next, they get antsy. They get cranky. They get whiny. That, in turn, makes me crazy! I lose focus, I lose my cool. I yell a lot more, and I’m ready to quit the day before it has begun.
I am not saying that routines solve all issues with acting out or crabby children. Believe me, it doesn’t. BUT, I am saying that I have witnessed here, with my own kids, that having a daily routine (which includes chores, activities, meals, and specific times for things) makes everything run more smoothly and quietly here.
So, now that I’ve explained the WHY, I’d like to explain the HOW. Here are the three steps I took to find the best routine for us:
1. Write down the tasks/activities that must get done each day. A few examples would be chores, meals, nap and bedtimes, school, extracurricular commitments, and church groups. These would be things that happen daily or very regularly. If you keep a routine for the things that must get done each day, it is easier to schedule in the last-minute or extra things.
2. Assign them a time for each day (or write down the times they already happen – like school or church activities). Having a time or time-frame set helps you know when to expect things to occur and when you have time for scheduling other items.
3. Once you have the items spread out over the day, share the list/routine with your family. If you can make a final copy of your daily items and share them with your spouse and kids….this becomes a routine. Make it a point to complete these activities when you have them set to happen and encourage your family to do the same. Once you have done it several times, it will become a habit and you won’t have to even think about it or look at the clock. It will become one less thing to spend time thinking about…it will be habit.
I enjoy not having to explain to my children every day that after lunch is nap time. They are a lot less combative when they know what is expected at a certain time each day. Of course they still need reminders on occasion, but they aren’t surprised when I say it’s time for bed at 8PM. They expect it, and they know it has happened that way for so many days in the past and that we rarely change it.
One final point:
4. STICK TO IT. I should mention that kids enjoy routine….when it is enforced. Don’t give in to the whining. Sure, you might be tired by their bedtime but if you give in and let them stay up….they’ll make you cave again and may never get to enjoy the benefits of routine. And the children won’t get to enjoy it either. If you can keep the family on track and commit to sticking with the routine, things will get easier and there will most likely be less whining about activities.
Do you have a routine? Why or why not?