24 Mar The Benefits Of A Steady Routine: How Families Thrive On A Consistent Schedule
Children thrive on routine, but change is something they all approach with apprehension. New experiences and events can make them anxious, whether it’s something minor like trying a new food or a major occurrence like settling into a new school. Because children have so much to learn and do, a steady, consistent home life allows them to focus on learning, knowing that their home environment will not change. That makes for a calm, steady child who’s able to focus on all the world has to offer.
A steady routine benefits everyone in the house, not solely the small children. In this post, we explain how everyone benefits once a regular routine is in place, and offer tips for implementing one in your home.
What does a routine look like?
For babies and small children, a regular routine includes a consistent start time to the day, nap times, meal times, playtimes, and a bedtime schedule. In the evening, that should include bath time, story time, and then getting tucked into bed at the same time each night.
Benefits to Parents and Children:
1. There is security in schedules.
For both parents and children, knowing (for example) that the day begins at seven o’clock with a good breakfast before work and school means the family can relax because there are no surprises. Do you know that distressing feeling that happens if you accidentally oversleep and everyone is rushing around trying to get ready? That is precisely the feeling of chaos that a regular routine avoids.
2. Routine regulates appetite and energy levels.
The body adapts to having meals at consistent times, and that helps keep blood sugar levels stable. That means less snacking at odd hours, for both parents and children. Regular exercise helps to dispel tension, stabilize mood, and stimulate appetite so scheduling family activities like hiking or swimming helps accomplish all those goals.
3. Routine fosters good sleep habits.
Again, this is true for both parents and children, particularly during the week when early mornings are necessary. Taking time to wind down together in the evening prepares everyone for bed, and reading a bedtime story to your child will relax you, as well as them.
4. Regular mealtimes are a crucial part of a steady routine.
If everyone pitches in and helps – your teen sets the table, your seven year old helps wash lettuce for the salad, and you or your nanny prepares the entree – a spirit of shared responsibility contributes to the strong sense of family on which everyone depends. Another benefit of shared and consistent meals is that it allows parents to get caught up with their children and remain current about everything going on in their lives. This is particularly important as your child grows older and enters the teen years.
5. A steady routine makes children confident and independent.
When a child knows precisely how their home life functions and that they can depend on their parents to behave in predictable ways, they begin to develop their own ideas and beliefs. This is a crucial part of healthy emotional separation from their parents. In other words, the more a child knows they can count on their parents to be the same, the more they feel free to be different. That allows them to explore who they are, what they want for their future, and how they’ll go about achieving it.
Tips For Starting A New Routine:
Are you looking for greater organization and a firmer schedule at home? Here are some ways to get started.
1. Start with meals.
If the family tends to scatter somewhat, particularly on weekends, suggest having a family dinner together on Sunday evenings. Design a menu everyone loves, and ask for help from each family member. Gradually increase the number of times you share meals each week.
2. Enlist your nanny’s help.
If you want your children on a firmer schedule, your nanny is your greatest ally! Come up with ideas together for getting homework done at a set hour, starting chores at a specific time, and anything else you’d like to see happen. Whatever your schedule for yourself – getting home from the office by a certain time, for example – do your best to stick to it. Your child will come to depend on seeing you at that hour.
3. Nudge them along and they will adapt.
If your child resists a consistent bedtime at first, keep trying. They are only resisting the notion of change, not the actual idea of climbing into bed at a specific hour. They’ll feel much better once the habit takes hold, and will quickly get used to the change.
4. Explain why and how everyone benefits from a steady routine.
Let them know that you need this as much as you want it for other family members. A regular routine allows parents to carve out a little time for themselves, particularly at the end of a busy day. Children benefit from going to bed at a set time each night, and parents also benefit from knowing that at eight o’clock (for example) they’ll have a chance to get caught up on their own activities, like doing a home workout, or just relaxing with a good book.
5. Be firm but flexible.
A schedule will be met with resistance if you’re not willing to work around it occasionally. Let’s say your child has a birthday party to attend on a Sunday afternoon that interferes with your usual family meal. It’s important you are willing to change your schedule if something comes up that truly matters to one family member. After all, flexibility is a crucial skill for all parents!
Adjusting to a steady routine may present a few speed bumps at first, especially if your family’s schedule has been somewhat loose and unpredictable. However, we assure you that if you persevere, the family will adapt and thrive – and that’s every parent’s dream. A healthy and happy family is one on a steady schedule!