Kids need routine. I’m not talking about planning out every single minute of their day to the point where you rob your kids of all creativity, freedom, or spontaneity. I’m talking about having a plan that kids can follow during certain times of the day in order to help them be more productive and help your life be less crazy.
During the school year, it is especially important for kids to have routines. In our home, we have a morning routine, an after-school routine, and a bedtime routine. We have checklists everywhere to make sure that they know exactly what to do.
Here’s why routine is so important…
- Routine creates security: When we do the same things over and over in the same way, kids feel more secure. That’s why little ones ask us to read the same books over and over and over and over and over. I had Brown Bear, Brown Bear memorized because no matter how many times I read it, my kids wanted me to read it again and again. There is security in familiarity. Routines help the day become familiar. And kids become more confident when they know what to expect and when they can predict what comes next.
- Routine encourages responsibility: It is important for kids to know what is expected of them. Whether it’s chores or homework or what they need to do at bedtime, establishing a routine allows them to take the responsibility for getting the job done.
- Routine fosters independence: It is not our job to do everything for our kids–after all, we do want them to grow up to be self-sufficient, responsible adults. But it is our job to teach them what to do, how to do it, and then let them go from there. We want them to eventually be able to do everything without our guidance. And routine helps. With a solid routine in place, kids feel more empowered to manage their own time and their own responsibilities.
So, how do you create strong routines in your home?
- First of all, identify “problem” areas or times of day where your family would benefit from a routine.
- Write down everything that you would like for your kids to do.
- Create a short, simple checklist (use pictures for younger kids) to help get their routine in order.
- Read through the checklist with your kids to check for understanding. You can also ask them if they have anything to add (this makes them feel important getting to share their thoughts and opinions).
- In the beginning, have them practice going through the checklist with your guidance. Remind them to look at their checklist. “Have you done everything on your after-school checklist?” Check their “work”.
- Once they have learned the routine, you can give them some space. You may need to remind or encourage them every once in a while. And by the way, it’s OK to let your kids forget things from time to time–there will be natural consequences–especially when it comes to school work. Or for frequent forgetfulness, you may need to introduce a small, fair consequence to boost that responsibility factor.
Hopefully, with practice, you will be able to watch your secure, responsible, independent children flowing through their routines and checking things off their checklists. And eventually, you will find that your kids will know their routine so well, they won’t even need the checklists anymore.
And then, maybe…just maybe, you will have more time to just sit back, relax, and enjoy a brownie! 🙂 Ha.
Here’s to building better families-