Routines allow families to get things done, spend time together and have fun. Every family has its own unique set of routines. Routines help family members know who should do what, when, in what order and how often.
Why are family routines important?
1 – Routines reduce the number of power struggles and help children cooperate
Children want to be their ‘own boss’ and need independence. By organizing a proper routine, children know what is coming next and feel empowered. Routines diminish stress for everyone as each person knows what is coming next. Children can anticipate transitions and do not feel pushed around.
2 – Routines help children learn to take charge of their own activities
Over time, children learn to brush their teeth, pack their backpacks, etc., without constant reminders. Having chores as part of family routines help children develop a sense of responsibility, some basic skills (such as managing time) and increases their confidence and self-esteem. As children are able to do their tasks without adult supervision, they develop independence too!
3 – Children learn the concept of “looking forward” to things they enjoy and feel safe
An organized and predictable home environment helps children feel safe, secure and looked after – particularly in stressful times and various stages of development (e.g. pre-teens). As children learn what’s coming next, they look forward to it (e.g. brush your teeth then a story, tidy up your room then play outside, homework first then play).
4 – Regular routines help children and parents stay on schedule and maintain consistence in expectations
Regular routines help children get on a schedule and diminish stress for everyone. Less anxiety in everyone’s life makes for a more peaceful life. If everything is a fight, often parents end up giving in (e.g. more TV time, skip brushing teeth for tonight, accept not being punctual, etc.).
5 – Ask children to participate in designing a family routine chart
Sit with your children and discuss the things that need to be done at a particular time of the day. For example, what do they need to do every morning before going to school (eat, brush teeth, get dress, prepare bag, put on sunscreen)? Design a colourful routine chart with them that they can easily understand to follow the morning routine. Put the chart up for everyone to see. Ask the children to ‘tick’ each item as they do it, building a sense of accomplishment and independence. Use positive language to encourage them to follow the list, for example, “You already did three things from the chart, only two more to go” “Thank you for following the chart, this is very helpful” “You are becoming more and more independent, good for you!”
For older children, make sure that the routine is discussed and agreed upon so that everyone knows what is coming. Of course, on particular days, you can be flexible, but in general, a routine helps the whole family feel more empowered and less stressed.