WEEK 1: You took the time to sit down and write out all of your upcoming weekly appointments and “to dos”. You made sure to schedule your children’s soccer practice and piano lesson, and you even scheduled some “you time” to get a small workout in 3x during the week. You are feeling in control and more flexible in your routine because you had a clear picture of the things to come. Even though a few curve balls were thrown your way, you were still able to manage the challenges because you knew how you could make adjustments to your plan in an effective way.
WEEK 2: You started the week with a few “to-dos” scribbled down on some scrap paper but nothing formally scheduled. You have the children’s schedule memorized so you're not too worried about forgetting their practices. But since you have a million things on your mind to get done, you are having to use your memory to recall all of the info. so the majority of your time is spent just trying to remember everything. You are feeling more overwhelmed and when a curve ball hits, it takes you over the edge. “You time” is thrown out the window because at this point you are tired and just trying to get through the week.
As adults we understand the importance of planning and scheduling our week in order to keep stabilized, organized and in control of our hectic schedules. This sense of control and consistency is just as important for our children. This is why routines are pertinent for the development of a child as they progress through the years and why it is so valuable to instill it in them now so the habit can be formed for their future success.
As parents, caregivers and teachers in our children’s lives, we are helping form the child into an active and functioning citizen in the communities in which they dwell in; we are teaching them the life skills that will allow them to flourish and become independent leaders. Starting with providing routines in our children’s daily lives, we are contributing to the following benefits:
- Building Confidence and Independence: simple, everyday tasks and routines can serve as building blocks for learning more complex skills and be a strong foundation for future learning. Over time kids learn to brush their own teeth, pack their own backpacks, clean up their toys, clean off the table after dinner, etc., without constant reminders. Since kids love being in charge of themselves, this feeling increases their sense of mastery and competence in their skills and their abilities with life skills.
- Developing Self-Discipline and Responsibility: following a routine is the foundation of success for children. Whether it is creating simple steps for bedtime, or an after school homework and chores time, your child will benefit from following a routine. When the routine is followed step by step again and again, your child is learning good habits of self-discipline and responsibility. They also learn the positive effects of accomplishment and achievement.
- Helping Eliminate and/or Decrease Anxiety and Stress: when a child knows what is going to happen next they are able to prepare mentally and physically for the changes in tasks or locations. This can result in a more positive behavioral response to daily transitions.
- Increasing Cooperation: with decrease anxiety and stress, a child becomes secure in knowing they will get fair warning with daily transitions and feel less in the unknown of what parents expect from them.
- Eliminating Power Struggles: children learn what expectations are required during the day so parent doesn’t have to be “bossing” the child every minute. There is an underlying understanding of the flow of the home.
- Start developing the Concept of “Looking Forward” to Things They Enjoy: so if play time and/or park time are scheduled for the afternoon, the child will look forward to what’s to come in the afternoon or in general, what’s to come “next.”
- Scheduling to Help Parents Maintain Consistency in Expectations and Allow for Building in Connecting Moments: the more consistent we are as parents with a routine and schedule, the smoother the daily transition are with our children. By decreasing the power struggles and battles, we allow for more quality time with our children (i.e., morning/evening hugs/kisses, cuddle time, bed time stories).
- Making a Happier Child: having a child wake up to a routine gives a child the sense of security and predictability that will make him/her automatically feel more confident and cooperative. The child feels more in control of the day at hand which results in a happier child.
- Making Happier Parents: happy children = happy parents
- Making a Healthier Home: organization in a home not only makes a family feel more in control of the things taking place in their week, it allows the family unit to be more relaxed and secure with one another. With decrease stress a family is able to enjoy one another’s time and prosper together.
As you start implementing a routine into your child’s life, remember you are just offering little routines and traditions that make life both easier and cozier. Not only will your children thrive from the security a routine provides, they’ll internalize the ability to structure their own lives along the way. But remember a routine is only a guideline so there are times that breaking the routine is just as important; such as, staying up late to watch a meteor shower or leaving the dinner dishes in the sink to visit with family. Life is all about balance, we should seek to provide our children with structure while giving them the memorable moments of living.
Looking to get started on a routine? Here are some great examples of visual charts to help you get going.