A set routine means normalcy. It creates a secure predictable environment for the child, with no fear of the unknown. Not following a routine can be overwhelming and a mess for us adults also. We may somehow survive that mess, but for kids it means increased crankiness, meltdowns and even tantrums. Now, every family has a different routine. This post is just to share my two cents on why a routine is important and how it has helped me.
The most common and important routines to be set or followed daily are the bedtime, waking up time and meal times. A set bedtime and waking up time will ensure adequate sleep and a well rested mind. Thus, a happy and well settled child. Along with this, fixing up the meal times automatically sets the body clock including good bowel movements. Which is essential for overall better functioning of the body & mind. Some might even agree to fixing their meals as well. Eventually they will know whether its breakfast time, snack time or major meals and what to expect for that meal. Also make sure they have healthy and filling meals. A hungry child is more cranky. For this weekly meal plans help a lot. And i have learnt it the hard way. My mom has done it all her life, I on the other hand didn’t follow it until now. Trust me it makes your life much more easy. Also, how i plan my meals coming up in the next post.
Next is setting up a schedule for their other activities. Like, study / homework time, structured play, free play, art & craft, park time, sports etc. Fixing all of this helps a child know what he has to do when. This is a great help for us parents or care takers also. With a predictable time table, the question “what to do now” will not arise again and again. This time table can even be used to manage your day. You can manage your work time, me time and household chores accordingly. Like, the kids can colour or paint when you are busy in the kitchen or with work, or you can even setup your work calls during their nap times and screen time.
It is completely fine to not follow a routine once or twice a week, like on weekends, holidays etc. You might have had a late night or maybe had to wake up early. But even in these cases, make sure that your child is getting enough sleep and is eating well and on time. A well rested and well fed child is always easier to handle. It is also especially important that you stick to the routine on school nights. Inadequate sleep and a disturbed routine will leave your child grumpy and less attentive in class. And we definitely do not want that.
Having discussed about what routine to follow and how to follow it, lets move on to the most important part of the blog. Why is it important to follow a routine?
- First & foremost, it makes your child independent. It will give them a feeling of being in- charge and empowered. When they know what is to be done, they might attempt doing it on their own once they get used to the routine or in case you are busy. Even the kids collecting and arranging all the stuff needed for a particular activity can be a big help for you and a proud feeling for them. For example, it is free play for us after waking up until breakfast is ready. So, in case i need to sleep in a little extra or they wake up before me, they go to the playroom and keep themselves busy. In the long run, they will be familiar with when to start and end any activity and also clean up time post that becomes easy.
- When the entire family follows a routine, the child knows & understands that certain things are important as a family. For example meal times on weekends, daily park time etc. This way all of you will look forward to family time and will result in quality family time and better bonding.
- A calm and happy household. Knowing what to expect or what follows leads to lesser stress, lesser last minute hassles and lesser anxiety issues. By routine i do not mean, following the clock. What i mean is, A to B to C etc. Maybe he wants to interchange two activities, or not do any particular one. That’s completely OK. At least you will have a list of activities for the day, and you wont have to think what comes next.
- It helps with forming of healthy habits. Like brushing their teeth after waking up, washing their hands pre and post meals, even drinking water in intervals and overall bowel movements as well. We all know the importance of fixed potty times. All of this will lead to self discipline in the long run and will also teach them better time management in future.
- Eventually everyone will look forward to the day. Once a basic routine is set, start involving your child in planning his/ her day, This is especially important for homework time. Let them decide when they are in a good mood to do their school work and home work.
In the long run, all of this will prepare us for better management in times of change, like the present situation we all are in. Change can be stressful for all of us, more so for a child. A set routine will drastically reduce our stress levels and anxiety attacks. You might need to tweak it a little according to the situation. However, you will be sorted for the major part of the day. Even situations like change in place, school or parents undergoing a separation can be tough on the child. Maintaining and following a child’s routine will help them cope better with these changes.
It is also important to be spontaneous, flexible and creative around a child’s routine. It is important for us parents to be sensitive and adaptable around a child. Do not forget that children are like young adults, they have a mind of their own and they too can have mood swings. So be ready to work around that. Too strict a routine/ schedule may make them feel trapped and that they are being controlled.
Lastly, i would like to say and emphasize on the fact that a routine can be set from Day 1 post a child is born. Start early, it is going to be difficult in the beginning and can even be overwhelming for everybody. But you need to be patient. It takes time, but it is totally doable.
Stay tuned for more
Till then, have a good day and a great week ahead.