Having a routine of some sort is bound to help you get both your own and your family members’ lives in order. Particularly for households with a number of little ones running around, having a systematic and timely way of doing things will get you much further than just winging it. One common misconception is that routines are all about hard work and discipline, however they are also the way you can make sure you have time to relax, unwind and stay feeling good. So why not live a stress-free existence when all it takes is a few tweaks to your lifestyle?
Start With Sleep
Getting a good night’s rest is crucial in determining how the rest of the day plays out - especially with children! So start by getting your little ones into great sleeping routines, and here is a tip from Emily Duffell to show you how:
“A good sleep routine is a crucial part of any child’s bedtime sleep patterns. For babies and all the way up to an older child, the key to a good bedtime routine is consistency and doing the same thing every night. Choosing a bedtime routine that fits within your family dynamic, that is positive and that is also flexible is what will lead to good sleeping habits.
Children strive off bedtime routines and they should start from anywhere between 20-40 minute before you want your child to sleep. Great bedtime routine practices can include bath, breast or bottle for younger children, books and songs. Dimming of the lights will help increase a child’s melatonin levels which in turn will help prepare their little bodies for sleep. The routine should end with the child falling asleep by themselves.
Children’s daytime routines and needs change frequently so all bedtime routines must be flexible yet consistent.”
There’s plenty of reasons to make sure you have a tight sleeping schedule in place, so that when you tuck your little ones into their comfy cots at night, they hit the hay with ease.To find out more great tips, check out Emily’s website and Facebook page!
Work With Your Child’s Personality
A schedule isn’t one-size-fits-all, and you need to work with you little one’s natural tendencies. For example, if you’re child is an early-riser, put shower time in the morning and get that out of the way before school. If they get their homework done quicker, and more accurately after they’ve have dinner, take that into account. If they are more alert at school after they have a little physical exercise, get a trampoline for the backyard so they can get in a few jumps before lessons. Dympna Kennedy from Creating Balance, has further comments on maintaining routines for kids:
“A good routine allows children to feel secure. A secure child feels safe. A child that feels safe and secure thrives. A good routine should also have a degree of flexibility to allow for the bumps and dips that are part of life and family living. Establishing a routine that meets the needs of all the family will last the test of time. A routine that is put in place for the convenience of the adult over the child will be difficult to maintain, and risks children withering or rebelling as a result of a ‘forced’ or ‘rigid’ routine.
If we know what doesn’t work how do we go about making sure we put in place a good routine? Many parents know what they don’t want however this is just half of the solution, they also need to know how to do what will work. The age and developmental stage of the child needs to be taken into consideration otherwise we risk setting our expectations of ourselves and our child too high. Babies and young children change so much and the need to be flexible is paramount.
Finding the balance when establishing routines can be the difficult part. Many routines just happen i.e. a baby’s sleep/awake patterns and then change again as the needs of the child change. The key is to look first at why you want to establish a routine?”
To find out more from Creating Balance, check out their Facebook page!
Continue To Evolve The Routine
It’s important to not get stuck in a particular way of doing things, but to be open to change and flexibility within reason. For example, your little one’s may need the odd late night due to a family function or a birthday party. Just get back into the swing of things as quickly as possible once the event has passed.
As they grow older, you are going to have to make changes anyway. If you start to find their sleep pattern is suddenly not working, it could be due to changes in their mind and body as they grow from baby to toddler to child. Remember that during periods of high stress, or changes in their life, you want to provide as much stability in the home as possible. If your little one has just started at a new school, or you are shifting house, these could be examples of times when a routine is imperative to maintaining order in their lives, and keeping them secure.
‘Three Good Things’ Dinnertime Ritual
Elisabeth Stitt, from Joyful Parenting Coaching, has an idea for a small ritual you can go through with your kids each night after dinner:
“One of my favourite routines I call Three Good Things. Ideally this can be done when everyone sits down for dinner. At the start of the meal, go around the table and each person lists three good things about the day. With some kids it works better to have each person list one thing at a time and then go around the table three times. Little kids might need some suggestions, but as you model your appreciation for things like a beautiful spring day or the neighbour who showed you some kindness, they will expand their definition of good.
This practice has a lot of benefits. First, it slows the family down and provides a transition from running around all day. It also puts everyone in a good mood so kids are less likely to complain about a given food just because they are in a bad mood.
If this routine is established when kids are young, as they get older and life gets busy with sports and activities, parents can still do a shortened version of it - maybe when they are driving home from a game or as they stop in their room to say goodnight.”
Remember, you don’t need a rigid military-like regimented schedule to maintain order. The perfect routine comprises order, without taking away spontaneity and creativity. It should aid in your social lives, and relaxation time as much as it does with work. So get to planning, so you can thoroughly enjoy the organized chaos that comes with the role of being a parent.