Routine doesn’t mean life has to be boring. Your kiddos need routine! Some of you probably don’t even realize that you have a routine set for your family, but some of you might not have one at all! Your little monster might fight routine, but he secretly loves it (he just doesn’t like to be told what to do).
Children are comforted by routines. Knowing what to expect throughout the day gives children a feeling of safety. It teaches them to trust their environment. This doesn’t mean that you can’t take a spontaneous trip to the park and bring a picnic lunch or go on a vacation. But on a day to day basis, if your child doesn’t have to think about when he is going to eat next or get stressed about thinking that playtime is going to be cut short because mom or dad feels like it’s nap time now, he’s going to be more relaxed and comfortable. They may even feel a healthy sense of control.
Routines get children to behave better too. Hallelujah! When your child can sense that it’s almost bedtime and knows the bedtime routine, he might fight it a little bit, but you’re less likely to get a huge tantrum. He knows what to expect! If your child knows that he has to go to the table to eat every meal, he’s probably not going to fight with you about where he’s going to eat his food. That’s one less battle.
Routines should be set up as early as possible, but it’s never too late. I would suggest starting with a bedtime routine. Bedtimes are adjustable after you figure out what works for your child, but doing the same thing before bed every night will keep arguments to a minimum and can calm your child down to prepare him to sleep. Bedtime routines should move toward the bedroom with each step and should include calming activities. Baths are great before bed! Other things you could include in a bedtime routine are brushing teeth, using the potty (if old enough), getting pajamas on, a massage, singing songs or playing music, prayers, hugs and kisses, and story time. Reading before bed is a great idea! It ensures that you get some reading in, no matter how busy the day was, and it’s soothing! Books can bring up great conversations, too. Some of the best conversations can happen right before bed!
Other daily routines:
Morning routines can be important too. Your child may wake up at the same time every morning, but it usually depends on how tired he was. Having a plan for every morning can get you to actually start your day rather than hanging out and being unproductive. Breakfast is really important, so making that part of the early morning routine will ensure that your child starts the day with nutrients and will be hungry enough for lunch.
Naptimes can be kept at the same time every day. This will keep kiddos from fighting too much as well.
Meals should be eaten at the table, with the same mealtime rules every day, and around the same time. Your child’s body will learn when mealtimes are!
Make playtime with your child part of your daily routine. It is so important for your relationship and for your child’s learning that you play with him every day. If you schedule out time for play, you won’t beat yourself up later when you realize that you didn’t make time for it.
Some children really respond to visual aids. A great idea for either one routine (like bedtime) or the entire day’s routine, is to have charts or lists with each task on them. When they complete the routine task, they can mark it off and move on. This can give your child a visual aid (often with pictures on the chart) and gives them a sense of independence. You don’t need to nag them to do what they need to do and they’re more willing to complete the daily task when they feel like it’s their own idea to go to the chart to see what to do next.
Routines will make things less stressful for your child, but also for you. It sounds like a lot of work, but things will start to fall into place after a little while.
Featured image edited from pro.psychcentral.com