Looking for relationship advice for men? Three words: Routine at home. Good routines at home are a key step to improving your relationship with your family. Family routines are something of an enigma to many of us.
They are what we tried to implement to create a calming environment for our babies and toddlers to better fall asleep within. But now that the ages and stages of our children have changed, as we have too, it seems like routines are more difficult than ever.
Yet it is established that having a daily routine means that your family life around the home will run much more smoothly, and this means the time you share is fun and bonding. Psychologically, children enjoy routines because it helps them to feel safe, it also creates a structure within which they can develop life skills and healthy habits.
Parents appreciate routines because they help us feel organized, dial down the stress of unscheduled, unplanned events going wrong, and free up more time to have fun and take part in activities we enjoy. Similar to a school bus or train service, routines are characterized by being well-planned, regular, and predictable.
In this article focusing on relationship advice for men we will briefly work through what routines are, why they are good for children, and parents, the characteristics of a good routine, as well as ideas for daily routines for toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children, and of, course teenagers.
Understand the basics of routines
Starting with first things first, the basic understanding of a family routine is how the family organizes itself to simply get things done while sharing time, space, and enjoyment of one another. Having a sequence of actions that each member of the family regularly follows means that everyone knows who is responsible for what, to do in which particular order, and how frequently.
For your children, seeing what activities you prioritize shows them what is important to your family. Consider a family routine of setting up Christmas decorations. For many of us, this is a very special time, and a great deal of emphasis and planning is placed on it. This extra attention elevates this routine to a ritual.
Perhaps birthdays are similar, with a special time being put aside for presents and celebration. These rituals help establish and strengthen the beliefs and values that you share as a family and bring a sense of belonging and togetherness.
Why kids love routines
Yes, like every person, children too really benefit from routines. They are particularly important in the environment where you grow up as they are a key part of an organized and predictable home environment.
This creates a feeling of safety, being understood, and looked after, and makes one feel comfortable and secure. When a child is going through developmental changes like puberty, psychological challenges such as being bullied, or life events like the birth of a new sibling, or a house move, this secure comfort acts as a buffer to these changes.
The benefits of a routine that is also fun and involves the family sharing time together is that it nurtures a sense of belonging and strengthens the relationships within the family. Consider the time that you spend with your children.
Perhaps this is during a school commute, bedtime, regular mealtimes, or perhaps when they are getting ready for sports practice. Take a pen and jot down ideas to make these times fun and for everyone involved, and you will find that both you and your children will treasure the time these activities enable you both to share.
Developing life skills and a sense of responsibility
Being given a role to fulfil adds to a person’s sense of responsibility. This is the same with chores. By building them into family routines young children to teenagers can grow a sense of responsibility, and other basic skills involved, such as time management and organization. The home is where these skills start being caught and taught. Remember that implementing a routine models how you are taking your responsibility as a parent seriously.
A key part of this is their growth to become more independent. By fulfilling the steps of the family routine for which they are responsible, with increasingly less help or supervision, this faith in themselves and responsibilities toward others are cultivated.
Building good habits
Washing hands after using the toilet, exercising, and brushing teeth are examples of how routines can teach children healthy habits. Logically, routines are good for children’s health and studies show that youngsters who wash their hands more regularly are less likely to catch colds and other common illnesses.
By knowing that they get dressed and back their bag before going to breakfast at a particular time children do not rush about at the last minute to get ready for school. Just like you know the laundry needs to be completed before you need clean clothes so you can go to work, and rushing about to get ready at the last minute is in no one’s best interest, so a routine can reduce the stress that a child experiences, which is good for their immune system.
The body clocks that parents spend so much time developing in their babies and toddlers help them to know, at a biological level, when it is time for sleep. Having a daily routine that affirms our body clock is very beneficial when children reach adolescence as their body clocks start to shift.
Parents benefit from good family routines, too
If you were to prioritize this list of benefits that come from establishing a good routine, how would you number them?
Organized. There is a level of effort required to establish a routine. Some of the many benefits are seen in the reduced stress that you face when life becomes very busy. The routines around the house help you feel more organized and in control.
Encouragement. The consistency of routines is useful for affirming your role and effect as a parent – the quality time you have built into the family routine means that you and your family benefit from good relationships and habits.
Saving time. The effect of getting things done efficiently means that time is freed up for other tasks. Many hands make light work and if everyone is quick to help with the chores that you and your spouse previously did alone, the likely outcome is that you will have more time.
Simplifies choices. If you have already decided that Friday night is burger and movie night, then you do not have to argue, about what to eat or do. Routines often take away the opportunity for a dispute or choice.
Prioritize schedule. In our busy lives, it is easy to commit to too many activities. Routines give us boundaries and allow us to have free time with our families.
Characteristics of a successful daily routine
A good routine works for the family and normally has three key features: it is well-planned, regular, and predictable.
A well-planned routine means that everyone has a clear idea of what their role is, and where it begins and ends. They understand their role as being fair and reasonable. An example could be in having your children know that they will take turns to load and unpack the dishwasher or sort the laundry. Older children can take part in more complex tasks, such as helping plan holidays or dividing up the chores list.
A regular routine is something that is part of daily family life. It happens every day or week for as long as the season is that the routine is beneficial for the family. Here an example may be a fun time together with extended family over a barbecue, or during a Sunday lunch.
A predictable routine means that things happen in the same order each time. There are very few surprises for the day. When your child opens their cupboard to dress for the day, they know there are clean clothes available because they helped fold them and pack them away once the laundry was finished.
If your child experiences anxiety, has any disabilities, or finds it hard to cope with change, routines are especially beneficial.
Ideas for daily routines
Consider these times in the day of your family and take a look at how you can introduce or improve routines in these areas:
Toddlers and preschoolers:
- Preparing for going to sleep in the evenings (bath, dinner, story, sleep).
- Getting ready in the morning (dress, hair, breakfast).
- Storytime (paging through picture books or being read a story).
- Eating meals (seating space, crockery, and cutlery, cleaning up).
- Playtime and other quality time (energetic games, and quiet games suited for different times).
Consider introducing a weekly routine for a playdate, visits out to the park, or seeing extended family. Your child will likely grow to anticipate and enjoy these special times each week.
- Going to sleep in the evening, getting ready in the morning.
- After-school activities (crafts, sports).
- Chores (caring for pets, unpacking the dishwasher).
- Homework and reading.
- The school holidays will allow for more time and less pressure so consider allowing the children to sleep later, having extra playdates, and the like.
- Getting ready in the morning, opportunities to relax after returning from school.
- Chores (laundry, cleaning room, yard work).
- After-school activities (crafts, sports).
- Spending time together (dinner time, a mid-afternoon coffee date for parents who work at home).
- Relaxing before bed.
As children get older, they may outgrow or start to challenge previously set routines. You will likely need to be flexible and adapt routines to suit their age and stage. This may be in the level of independence and responsibility they have to complete chores or ensure they sleep enough.
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“Father and Children”, Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Blowing Bubbles”, Courtesy of Polina Kuzovkova, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License; “Breakfast”, Courtesy of Jimmy Dean, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License; “Washing Up”, Courtesy of CDC, Unsplash.com, CC0 License