When you have children, creating routines for events that occur daily or most days helps your children know what is expected of them and what to expect from others.
Routines lead to feelings of safety and security in children.
Family routines need to have expectations that are achievable for each child at each age. Being able to meet expectations builds self-confidence and feelings of competency in children. Some daily events that are good to set routines for include bedtime, family meals, homework, and getting off to school in the morning.
Having routines for these events can help parents accomplish more and enjoy these events with their children. Set routines early in a child’s life so that they become something that has always existed in their life.
Having routines can actually ease the difficulties that families face during challenging times. If dad lost his job but he still reads a story before bedtime each night, the child learns that family life is stable even when life throws a powerful punch your way. When your five-year-old decides that he doesn’t want to go to bed at 8:00pm, it is easier to get him to comply with his bedtime when the bedtime routine has been the same for his past five years.
Having a routine does not mean that the expectations stay the same for each child for the rest of their childhood. Bedtimes, family meal expectations, and responsibilities will change as children age, but it is the routine that remains the same. For example, if a family’s bedtime routine for their two-year-old consists of putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, getting into bed, and listening to a story, that is the routine that the child will become used to. As the child ages, listening to a story might become reading a story together or reading a story independently.
Routines are important for parents as well. Parents who establish a weekly “date night” as part of their family’s weekly routine will continue to enjoy one-on-one alone time with their spouse. Parents who set an exercise routine for themselves will get the benefit of continuing to exercise throughout their children’s lives.
When parents set routines for their own self-care, their children learn the importance of taking care of themselves no matter what life distractions might exist.
Routines also teach your children about time management and the importance of accomplishing some tasks in order to have time for others. Brush your teeth when you are supposed to so that you have time to hear more of the story.
As we grown-ups know, having good time management skills can greatly improve your quality of life!
Dr. Sharon Picard and the VWS Team