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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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!