If you are currently navigating parenthood of a school-aged child for the first time, you may be experiencing a sense of being overwhelmed. As children enter this new realm, it proves to be an adjustment for all… “How do I fit in parent-teacher conferences, homework, social engagements, etc. etc. etc. in addition to all of life’s other demands?” This is where structure and routine become a necessity for all. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, children (at any age) need structure and consistency. However, when life begins to throw additional responsibilities yours and your child’s way, structure and consistency become even more critical and serve as a base point. And yes, initially creating structure can seem cumbersome and time-consuming, but it ultimately offers more time to you and your family for the important things, such as quality time together.
Daily and weekly routines help a household run more smoothly, by increasing everyone’s sense of organization and predictability. Predictability can lead to less household disagreements. For example, if every Tuesday is reserved for Taco Tuesday, there is less opportunity for conflict to arise about what to agree on for dinner. Additionally, once these routines become habit, they can provide a sense of safety and security for children when major life changes do occur. Let’s face it, life is constantly throwing obstacles our way that are unexpected and unavoidable. However, the more structured our lives are, the better we are able to manage and cope with these unforeseen stressors. These routines provide our children with that secure base point, even when other areas seem to be messy.
The first step to creating daily and weekly routines with your school-aged child is by allowing plenty of time to sit and explore the areas that need more structure. Include your child in this process to begin building effective and healthy life skills and habits. Visually appealing calendars/charts (including fun stickers) are a great way to stay organized and on-track. These charts can be created in a way that even your child can read and follow, thus helping everyone remain accountable. Bonus: over time, you may notice that the routine has become so ingrained into your child that he/she begins to remind you of what’s to come.
The second step to developing an effective routine is including time for breaks, self-care, family time, and so forth. Many times, people attempt to create routines that are so rigid and task-oriented, they forget to save time for life’s luxuries. This is the whole purpose of creating a routine in the first place, right? Humans are not built to over-exert themselves with work. Research has proven that over-working can lead to a significant decline in physical and mental health. Taking small breaks, getting adequate food and sleep, playing, being outdoors are just a few examples of the things we NEED to incorporate into our routines. Many people just make mental notes of when they hope to take a break, but this often leads to no break at all. Actually planning breaks and writing them into your routine increases the odds of you engaging in that task when the time comes. You’ll notice a huge difference in your child’s behavior, attention, and emotional state when you make playtime a necessary part of their routine.
The final step to maintaining an effective routine is flexibility. HA!… Now doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron?! Every family is constantly growing and changing. Thus, routines need to be reviewed, re-reviewed, and adjusted as well. Someone once told me, “the worst process is the most current process.” Essentially, any routine we currently have in place can probably be improved in some way. Being open and flexible to adapting your routines to the most current needs, will serve you and your family greatly. Every year (maybe even every quarter or semester) your child’s school schedule will change. This will ultimately change the way things are structured and accomplished within the home.Share