Set the Tone at Home: Routines
What parent hasn’t been there? You go to sleep with the best of intentions: get up a little earlier tomorrow, get a workout in, have your coffee alone before the kids wake up, be ready to greet your little ones oozing peace and motherly wisdom.
But then, you went to bed later than you wanted to, your toddler woke up before you and...it’s done. Your entire plan is up in smoke.
So, you throw in the towel and hope tomorrow is better. You can just get on the crazy train of your morning or...not.
There is another option.
Routines are the secret sauce to making life with young children work for everyone. We’ve been fed the color-coded charts and “never do this” and “always do this” line of thinking that ends up derailing us. That is not the kind of routine to focus on.
Routines are set by YOU - the adults in YOUR home. Not an influencer, parenting expert or mother-in-law.
You know your family’s rhythms.
You know your children.
You know your own personal limits.
There is no better person to create routines that are viable, sustainable and effective than you. Children and parents thrive when they know what to expect and what will “come next.” When routines are in place, you will quickly be able to anticipate what your family will need and want so you can get ahead of potential hurdles.
The best routines are BROAD, DOABLE and CLEARLY COMMUNICATED.
We are not talking about a SCHEDULE. Schedules are great for after school classes, meetings and meals.
Routines are simply a rhythm that you work within. Think in broad strokes. They are how you prioritize your day and they are built around your values.
Routines are a reflection of habits and clear communication. They will naturally occur if you tune into your family’s needs and wants.
Routines will reflect the day-to-day life you want for your family. The more you implement them, the faster they will become a natural part of your life. Is sleeping in on Saturday a must for you? Let your partner know, make a plan, talk to your children about it. Is having time to be with your partner on Friday nights a necessity? Create a routine to occupy the kids every week so they expect it and honor it.
Routines are a GAME CHANGER.
Making decisions about routines is easier and more accessible than you may realize.
Routines can be flexible and change as children’s and family’s needs change.
While less detailed than a schedule, routines do need a bit of thinking through to make them realistic.
Here’s the great news - you’re probably farther along on this routine mentality than you may realize. You already have routines and rhythms that work for you. The key now is to get rid of the routines that don’t work for you. Does your child balk every time it’s time to clean-up? That may have unwittingly become part of your home routine. Time to ditch that and move on to a more positive and less taxing routine.
Your routines will change as your family does - you can’t really tell that wailing newborn that waking up before 5 AM is not a part of your routine. Likewise, no need to keep the bedtime routine of pats on the back and singing a song to your 7 year old. Just keep it on your radar that you can tweak and change routines as your children meet new milestones and abilities.
Beginning routines to consider for any family:
Transitions (from play to meals, from home to car, from inside to outside, from day to evening)
Dedicated one-on-one times (even short times such as reading a bedtime story, a quick morning chat or a focused snack time together)