Goodbye laid back summer days. Hello September routines! I am thrilled with the prospect of what a more structured routine offers as a new school begins. That said, I will miss summer, which was incredibly adventurous, full of spontaneity, and far from daily deadlines or constraints.
I’ve tended to be very structured and orderly most of my life. My two eldest daughters would tell you that when they were young I was all about structured routines. We had charts for each ¼ hour of the day that detailed school, chores and bedtime routines. I’m a “Type A” personality married to a completely relaxed husband. Thankfully, he has rubbed off on me these past 28 years and with time I’ve mellowed tremendously.
There are no easy routine recipes that will suit every family. Each routine needs to be based on your child and your family dynamics.
My husband works out of the house, which is both enjoyable and difficult at the same time as he is physically home but his mind and attention can be in another part of the world. He travels about 40% of the time, which is disruptive to maintaining a consistent routine for Cayley and I. Our two grown daughters live in different states as do our parents so keeping up with them oftens means they are traveling to see us, we are traveling to see them or we are all traveling to some exotic destination. Sorry Facebook, but having real face to face time is uber important to this family. Originally, we wanted to be available to travel with Jon on his longer business trips so relying on structure took a backseat to being flexible thus the idea of having routines seemed constraining to me and I fought them.
Recently, God has shown me that our youngest daughter, Cayley, desperately needed more order in her life. She likes to know what’s next and will often ask, “What are we doing next?” Disorder, spontaneity, and chaos created stressful situations for Cayley and sometimes a bit of anxiety. Schedules and routines help her make sense of her day thereby reducing anxiety and apprehension. I discovered that Cayley handles change best if it’s expected versus stressing over how to fill her day. She has dealt with many unpredictable changes – her dad’s frequent business trips, sisters moving to Detroit and San Diego, death in the family, six moves before the age of 8, our love for travel, etc. Thankfully, I’ve come to realize that all of these changes have slowly eroded her sense of security while playing into anxiety issues. As I continue to study my daughter I better understand her specific needs, thereby providing her with the best home and school environment to thrive in.
Studies have shown most children do best when routines are regular, predictable and consistent as they help bring order and structure in the home allowing kids to thrive and become well grounded. Structure and routines teach kids how to effectively control themselves and their environments.
Routines well planned and written out tend to work best.
As I embarked on the new school year I evaluated the previous year by looking back on strengths, weaknesses, and areas of growth for Cayley. I sought God, hubby and Cayley for direction and input. Together we agreed on establishing routines to help achieve our goals for the year. Being visual and having a passion for making charts, Cayley and I created a weekly routine. I’m in the process of training her how to keep a day timer where she will put her school assignments, upcoming appointments, her next sister visit, dad’s travel, etc., so when she inquires I can simply say, ‘go look at your calendar.” Also when we have our weekly family meetings she can participate and write in future events.
For those with little ones make a poster with the written schedule, including photos of each child doing the activities in the right order, to empower them and make your life easier.
It helps to reevaluate your routines regularly. We have a family meeting on Sundays to preview our upcoming week. It helps me greatly to know when Jon has phone conferences, meetings out of the house, and future business travel. Having Cayley part of our family meetings helps her tremendously as she is able to see what’s coming down the road and feel more connected as a family.
Routines take time to become habits. We’ve been getting up a lot earlier as we’ve added exercise to our day. Getting out of bed at 6:15am to exercise has been a struggle but each day it’s becoming easier and now has become something we all look forward to. This has made our evening dinner and bedtime routines more consistent as we are ready to be in bed by 9:30pm if not earlier. If it takes 21 days to break a bad habit I’d venture to say the same holds true for creating a good habit Don’t be afraid to tweak a routine if it’s not working for your family.
Lastly, having a routine doesn’t mean that every minute of the day must be rigidly scheduled, whew! Remember a good routine should work for your family.
I’ve found a way to embrace routines that work best for my family and now I’m reaping amazing benefits such a peace, a less stressful child, direction, and a better understanding of expectations.
What are some of the routines in your home? What have you found to be the main benefits of maintaining a routine?