Mum confession: I am super-strict about our family routines – and you'll see why
One of the biggest changes about going from being just two people in love to actually being parents in charge of a tiny human, to me anyway, was that life all of a sudden become a whole lot more organized.
Predictable, if you will.
As in; out went the impromptu dinners on the town whenever hunger struck and we realised the fridge was empty. And those "oh, look – Aer Lingus is having a sale" trips abroad suddenly screeched to a sudden halt – at least for a while.
However, having always been a little restless, and, maybe even a little rootless as a result of living so far away from my own family, I actually found a huge comfort and safety in the predictability and mundane day-to-day life that new motherhood is. I suddenly loved how life now had a routine, and how I pretty much knew in the morning how my whole day – heck, week, would look.
Family life routines, as it turns out, made me happier, calmer and feel more in control. And guess what? According to experts (and now, my own personal parenting experience), routines are actually all sorts of good for kids too.
Routines establish normalcy. They are a way to get things done and they bring a sense of security to life.
Children, like adults too, often fear the unknown – whether it’s the quinoa on their plate – or big life changes like starting big school or getting a new sibling. This is where routines become even more important, as they bring a huge sense of comfort and consistency to a child’s life.
Routines, of course, much like families themselves, can differ. And they will no doubt evolve and change over time, and you will push and move those times and boundries into whatever suit your family. Right now, as my children are still quite young, our routines centre a lot around bedtimes and bath times. Since my little girl started big school, we also have homework hour in the afternoon during the week, and lately, we have also become pretty serious about our pizza Fridays.
Why am I so big on routines? Here are 10 good reasons:
1. Helps your child get on a schedule
Consistent routine will help your child and their “body clocks” with many day-to-day basics such as sleep, appetite and even bowel movements.
2. Bonds the family together
When children know what to expect and notices regular family activities, they begin to understand what’s important. This strengthens shared values, beliefs and interests.
3. Establishes expectations
Routines ensure children begin to expect and complete activities without issue. As the parent, you become a partner in that routine, rather than the person who is telling the child to “do this” and “not do this.”
4. Creates a calmer household
Because the child, and other family members, know what to expect, everyone will know what comes next. This will reduce stress and feelings of uncertainty.
5. Gives your child confidence and independence
With a routine, a child will learn over time when it’s time to do homework or go brush their teeth. They will take pride in knowing what they are supposed to do – and doing it by themselves.
6. Establishes healthy, constructive habits
Routines help establish constructive habits, like homework, tidy up time or even bedtime. What this does? Children who practice these skills will be able to better manage their time.
7. Helps you remember important things
This is such a big one to me: Routines help me stay on track – with everything, from the weekly grocery haul to bills that need paying or appointments I need to remember.
In a busy household, I think routines are a total lifesaver, allowing for less stress and more quality time together as a family.
8. Offers an opportunity to get excited about what’s ahead
If your child knows what’s on the agenda, they anticipate and look forward to future events – such as Pizza Friday or Sundays at granny's house. Family traditions make children (and adutls) feel safe and loved.
9. Provides opportunity for special “daily rituals”
When you build something into your day, like snuggling and reading to your child before bed, you instill special moments or “daily rituals,” and these moments are so important for bonding and connecting.
These dedicated times create increased bonding and connection with your child every day. Rather than just moving from one activity to the next, you have quality, relaxing time built into each day.
10. Offers stability during times of change or stress
Very few of us like changes, and to children, maybe not fully knowing what is going on, this can be even more stressful. Routines provide a safety net, a sense of security when the world as they know it is changing, be it from a home move, a divorce or starting a new school.
Being connected in a routine brings stability and calm, and we all need that in our lives.
Tell us, how strict are YOU on routines? And what routines mean a lot to you? We'd love to hear, so share in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamilydotie