Having a strong type A personality, I thrive on routines. Some would say little more than any normal person would but I will tell you having a good routine for my whole family has really made my day to day life easier. Parents often wonder if their kids should be on a routine and what the benefits are especially since kids are changing ALL the time. It takes time to set a routine not just for your child but for your whole family. The key is learning to adapt that routine to your day to day life which I think I have finally learned to do! It’s hard to get caught in a struggle between living such a routine life that anything out of the norm is unmanageable and ignoring routine and having no control over your day to day activities. It is very important to try and find that right balance.
Here are the benefits I have experienced from having a routine in my family life
- A routine will reduce the power struggles between you and your kids when they need to do day to day activities. Think about it, you hate being nagged over and over and so does your kid; many times they will ignore you because you nag too much. Setting expectations for them will make life a lot easier.
- A routine will promote healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle. If your child knows he does not get snack before dinner but has an opportunity to maybe get a dessert after dinner, it shows a continuous healthy habit of eating their full meals without snacks but having something to look forward to after.
- It gives kids a sense of control over their responsibilities.
- Setting a routine for your child will help you avoid the “just give in to your child because you are tired” moment. You know once you start giving in, kids will take it and run with it!
- It reduces stress and anxiety for both kids and parents because most of the time you know what to expect.
How do I start a routine?
First off, if you have a newborn, you can’t force them in a routine. They have a very “on demand” schedule and you should slowly evolve them into a routine as they continue to grow. The last thing you want to do is not feed a hungry infant because that is just all bad for the whole family.
- Choose one time of day to start with: morning, afternoon or evening. I started with evening because it was a better chance of Ayven getting a good night sleep and having a good morning rather than starting out cranky in the morning.
- List out the tasks that your kid will have to do no matter what. For example, brushing their teeth, taking a bath before bed or putting their clothes away. These items should be strictly enforced in your routine and should not come to a “just give in to your child because you are tired” moment.
- Make a visual for those kids that are old enough with pictures and responsibilities. This way they feel like they have accomplished some goals that day. Check out our Chores and Rewards Post to get some more ideas.
- Don’t get frustrated or angry with your child if they fight you on a step in the routine, it will just make it worse. Find a way to explain to them it needs to be done.
- Build in one on one time with at least one parent a day. Even if it’s for 20 minutes, it will feel like hours for your child.
- Make it fun! Make up a song while you brush their teeth or give them a treat for getting all their tasks done.
What do I do if we are out and I can’t follow my routine?
This is the part where I said you have to learn to adapt to your routine. Don’t make your routine so strict where your child cannot go anywhere past 7:00pm EVER because they HAVE to go to sleep. Give them a little leverage to change or you will lose your mind too. If you need to go out to dinner with the kids, go and have a good time. It’s okay if you run a little past bed time but don’t push them to the point where they can’t handle it anymore. Once you take them out a few times they will learn to adjust to a change in their schedule once in a while.
Quick tip: I always keep a pair of pajamas and a blanket in my car so if we do need to stay out late I can be prepared to put him to sleep if needed.
How do I know what routine is right?
Every child’s routine is different because it depends on their family dynamic. Some kids go to bed early, some got to bed a bit later but it does not make any routine better than the other. You just have to do what works for your family.
Good luck starting your routine!