For most parents life is hectic. Balancing a job, a home and kids can be stressful and exhausting! A big contributor to that stress is the absence of routines for young children. Daily routines are beneficial for children, but they also provide benefits to their parents too.
Let’s explore some of the wonderful benefits of routines.
Routines with Flexibility
Routines should be your best friend. Don’t look at them as a strict schedule; rather a guideline for what your days will look like. The biggest concern with schedules is parents feel confined, especially if there is something unforeseen that comes up in the day. We can plan out our days to the “T” and something always happens that was unplanned.
The important thing to remember is flexibility. Allowing for some flexibility but staying true to the schedule will still help children.
Routines are Most Important for Meals and Bedtime
Sleep habits can be a struggle every night if children don’t have a set bedtime. Parents become frustrated and often angry especially if they have other things to tend to and their children are experiencing sleep problems. Sticking to a schedule will help children get a good night’s sleep.
Again, flexibility is key. An occasional fit is to be expected. Stay true to your schedule and you can conquer the bedtime beast.
Routines Help your Child Transition
Routines allow children to anticipate the next activity which reduces power struggles. If they can expect what is next they are more likely to transition willingly. For instance, if dinner is at 6 p.m. and immediately after that you go into your bedtime routines, which could be a bath, putting on pajamas, reading a book, and giving hugs and kisses before bed, your child is more likely to transition willingly into all of these activities without struggle.
This is also true for naps during the day. Along with reducing power struggles staying true to your routines will help children exercise more self-control. Set your expectations and walk children through each activity.
Routines Help You Connect
Routines also build children’s connections with their parents or caregiver, so make sure to incorporate some loving rituals into your schedule. It’s easy to look at the light at the end of the tunnel, which for most of us is a sleeping baby and some much-needed quiet time, but that’s not the only goal.
Routines provide security for children. Remember those loving moments you had as a child. That favorite song, that gentle snuggle at the end of the day, and that big hug you received every night. Routines are made not only to reduce the unfavorable behaviors but to increase and strengthen the bond with your child.
Incorporate talking about your child’s day at bath time, make jokes or funny faces while pulling the pajamas over their head, and hold them in your lap while reading a book and take your time giving them that big hug before the lights go out. Routines, whatever they are, should be done with love.