How to Establish Routines for Children

Do you find routines and habits boring? Think they take out all the fun of your days? Hinder your children’s or your creativity and spontaneity? Well … I don’t agree. I believe that routines are very important to have for children (and for adults for that matter) and that they actually give us more freedom to be creative, spontaneous and relaxed.

 

Our family has definitely benefited from routines. They even more importantly help our children to establish habits and teach them important basic skills such as brushing their teeth, washing their hands after using the toilet or preparing their own snacks etc. After all, we expect them to become independent, sensible and responsible adults and these kinds of skills are part of it all.

Routines don’t necessarily have to be boring chores. They can be fun or beautiful and relationship building activities like reading a story together every night. Furthermore, they make children feel safe and secure because their environment becomes more predictable.

Here are a few tips and ideas to consider when you want to introduce routines:

 

One At A Time

Decide what your top priority is and concentrate on that. Then, only introduce one new routine at a time. Once it is well established, you can build on this basis and introduce the next routine.

 

Plan Wisely

Manage your family’s time well – there are only 24 hours in a day! Not everything always goes as planned, especially with very young children. Therefore, allow buffers and downtime. Using a diary or a time map might be helpful to visualise how filled your day is so that you can plan accordingly. One of the best tips I ever received after we had our first baby was from a yoga teacher. She recommended to plan only one thing per day when you have a new baby. She didn’t talk about the daily housework tasks but things like running errands. Only plan the grocery shopping, not coffee with friend afterwards and then baby swimming. For me, that worked wonders.

 

Be Realistic

Keep the age of your children in mind when you introduce new routines. Also, keep your expectations low. Make sure they are able to do what you expect from them. Talk about the routine and help them, at least at the beginning. “Tidy up your room” probably doesn’t work. “Please, pick up all the blocks and put them in this box’ is much more clear.

 

Stay Flexible

Create routines that meet your family’s needs at this point in time. Children grow and situations change. Life is happening fast. Tweak existing routines or implement new ones when necessary.

 

Dare To Be Unique

Routines don’t necessarily work for your family just because they – seemingly – work for everyone else. Your family is unique, so find routines that work for you. (If you have a routine that you think is unique, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section if you’d like to share).

 

Facilitate

Make it easy for your family members to follow routines. If you want your children to dress themselves in the morning, make sure they can do it easily, maybe by putting out their clothes the night before. If they’re old enough to do this themselves, they can do that part as well. Also make sure they can access everything they need easily. Too often I see kid’s wardrobes with their clothes hung up too high for them to take down.

 

Make It Fun

Routines don’t have to be dull and dreaded times. Make picking up toys at the end of the day or brushing teeth fun by having the children listen to their favourite songs.

 

Visualise

Help children to remember their routines until they have become habits. Use checklists that show all the things they need to do in the order they should be done. Pictures work great for children that can’t read yet and also for older kids. They’re just more fun for everyone!! Your kids will have fun making the charts.

 

Chores

Chores can be a part of a routine. Be sure that the child is capable to fulfil the chore you give him/her to avoid frustration. Visual checklists help here, too.

 

Have a look here for some visual inspiration regarding routines and chores.

 

Mini-Challenge

Over the next week, think about one new routine that you would like to introduce in your household and share it in the comments or on our Facebook page!

7 tips for hosting a relaxed Easter weekend

More often than not, holiday meals and festivities are a source of stress rather than a time for relaxation and fun. However, with a little bit of planning and organising, stress will be a thing of the past, and you will be able to enjoy time with your loved ones.

 

7 tips for hosting a relaxed Easter weekend

 

Here are my 7 tips for organising and planning your Easter weekend:

1. Invite your guests early

Many people go away during long weekends, so make sure you invite your guests early enough (at least four weeks in advance).

 

2. Plan your meals in detail

Take some time to plan the menus for the Easter weekend, plus at least one day before and after. Include every single meal—breakfasts, snacks, and even leftovers. Once you know what you want to cook, make a shopping list and schedule some time to do the shopping in your diary.

 

3. Prepare as much as you can

The idea of family getting together shouldn’t include you standing in the kitchen all the time. If you want to enjoy some relaxed time with your loved ones, prepare as much as you can in advance. You might even be able to pre-cook and/or freeze certain things.

 

4. Have some fun decorating your home

If you like to add some seasonal decoration to your home and table, plan early enough and make sure you have everything you need. If you are lost for ideas, have a look on Pinterest for inspiration. Maybe you can involve your children or other family members to create a beautiful centrepiece.

 

5. Plan the Easter egg hunt

The children (and adults :-)) will love the Easter egg hunt. Prepare it well in advance and have everything ready to go so you or another adult can hide the eggs the night before the hunt. Useful hint: note how many eggs you hide to make sure the kiddies search until they have found every egg!

 

6. Delegate and ask for help

Just because you’re hosting the Easter meal doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Most guests ask whether they can contribute in one way or another, so don’t just dismiss them—accept the help. If they don’t come forward, ask someone to bring a dessert or nibbles. Getting an entrée such as a seafood platter or even a main meal (or parts of it) prepared by your local deli might be another option. Think about what you could outsource, and don’t forget to make a note in your planner so you don’t forget to order in time.

 

7. Plan fun activities

Keep the children entertained and happy with some fun (and sugar-free) activities such as competing in an egg and spoon race, creating bonnets, colouring eggs or decorating egg- or bunny-shaped biscuits.
Wishing you a wonderful and relaxed Easter!

Alone Time versus Me Time or How to Refill Your Watering Can

Do you ever feel exhausted? Do you neglect yourself because you’re always there for everyone but you? Do you feel you’re giving all the time? Then let me share something with you: a lesson I learned last year about the importance of recharging my batteries.

I feel soooo exhausted!

I started my organising business almost two years ago and have really enjoyed what I’ve done during that time. However, towards the end of last year I started to feel exhausted. Everything was going well and I was loving my work, but still, something wasn’t feeling quite right. It felt like my brain couldn’t take in anything anymore; I felt mentally exhausted and too tired to think.

During the summer holidays, having the kids at home, I had time to take a step back, have a good long look at my life and do some thinking. I had long conversations with a couple of very good friends that changed my perspective quite a bit, too. One day I listened to an interview given by my lovely yoga teacher (http://www.olgadossa.com), and it was such an eye-opener for me! You might have heard the ‘empty cup analogy’ – I had. Several times. But somehow, this time it really struck a chord!

It goes something like this: We are like a cup full of water – or if we use my preferred container, a watering can. But we can only give and share if there is enough water in it. If the watering can is empty, there is nothing to give. So we need to fill and top up our watering can regularly.

Very logical, don’t you think? And so true, I find. Thinking about this a lot in the last couple of months, I realised something. I had made a mistake – a big one! For some reason I had confused alone time with me time. Since our boys started school about four years ago, I’ve basically had six hours a day to myself (yeahhh). And this was my me time – right? Wrong! I misinterpreted it as my me time and thought I had plenty of it because I was mostly on my own – that is, if I wasn’t working with clients or meeting a friend or doing the grocery shopping or running some other errands. But being without kids or husband doesn’t mean that I automatically recharge my batteries. Of course not. But it took me until now to realise this. I did and still do enjoy my work. Working does top up my watering can to a certain degree because it gives me a great sense of satisfaction and fulfilment when I get to help my clients on their journey. But it also involves a lot of giving. Giving time to do marketing and administrative tasks that honestly don’t really fill my watering can, even though I like these tasks, too. And of course there are many other giving activities involved in a typical day, especially if you’re a mother. Often, we simply forget to put ourselves first and recharge our batteries.

If this sounds familiar, read on to find out how I fixed it.

 

How to fill and top up the watering can

1. What fills my batteries?
I had to think about what I actually need to recharge my batteries. It can be so many different things and it is different for each and every one of us. For me, it included doing Pilates and yoga, amongst a few other things. I noticed that this is how I can get grounded and connect with myself best. What fills your batteries?

2. Schedule, schedule, schedule!
Once I had defined what I need and want to refill my watering can, I sat down and scheduled time for it. This was quite easy for Pilates and yoga because I go to lessons and can write them in my diary. Other things, like reading a good book for pure pleasure or going for a walk, are a bit trickier because there is no day and time dictated by a teacher. So it takes a bit of discipline to schedule these activities. Look at them as you would any other important appointments. The only difference is that these are appointments with yourself.

3. Review and adapt
After a while, it’s important to think about what works and what doesn’t. Things change all the time. Maybe you thought that reading would recharge your batteries, but after a while you realise it doesn’t give you as much pleasure as you thought. Or maybe you did it during a time of the day that wasn’t ideal, or it was simply the wrong book. Find something else or reschedule it to a different day or time. I love walks, but more so in spring and autumn, when it’s not too hot and the air is so beautifully fresh and crisp. I don’t walk as often in winter and almost never in summer, but I do other things instead. Tweak the system as much as you want until it suits your needs.

As we all know, life happens. Sometimes we might not be able to invest enough time in our well-being. If this happens from time to time, it won’t be the end of the world. However, if we are constantly giving more than we’re refilling, we will feel the consequences sooner or later and burn out. So take care of yourselves – take the time you need. This is not being selfish. Because if your watering can is full and is constantly topped up, there will be plenty to give. And that is definitely not selfish, is it?

 

What do you do to recharge your batteries? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

 

Update 3rd December 2015: I came across this wonderful blog post that I think ties in nicely with the above-mentioned tips: 55 gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy busy busy. Just before Christmas, many of us are really stressed and also emotional. Try a few of the tips Marthe suggests to stay sane during this season.

 

 

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