I hate routines … but we do them anyway!
I tend to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants girl, embracing change and last-minutes plans with gusto. I like having a full day of nothing planned so I can do whatever comes to mind that day. I also have a personality type that’s only 3% of the population.
The other 97% of the population hates change and thrives with routines. So, our family has routines, because we need them.
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Why do we need routines?
Routines Set Expectations
When you go to a doctor’s appointment, you know you’re going to check in, fill out paperwork, answer insurance questions, wait, and then be called into a room. When you go to work, you know you’re going to clock in, check email, and get to work. When you go to school, you’re going to enter the classroom, sit in the same seat you always do, get out your notebook to take notes, and listen to the lecture.
You know what to do because it’s a routine. And when you set up routines at home, your kids will know what to do. They know the process. They know what is expected of them. They know all the steps that are required to finish that routine and they know when the routine should be done.
Setting up routines at home helps create expectations. If your expectation is to keep rooms clean, have a routine for that. If your expectation is to have a clean kitchen, set up routines for that. If your expectation is to keep the laundry done, set up routines for that. Having a routine clarifies expectations and lets your kids know what those expectations are.
Routines Establish a Constant
Kids don’t like change, and most adults don’t either. Routines establish a constant way of doing tasks so the duty gets done without much thought or arguing. Everyone involved knows they need to finish x, y, z so they can move on with their day (or go to bed!). When all the steps of the routine are clearly outlined, and clearly communicated, kids can thrive on their own and parents can finally get some peace.
Routines Help Kids with Mental Health
Routines helps kids feel safe. Most kids don’t like change, and when set expectations and behaviors are repeated daily, kids feel safe.
Routines also alleviate anxiety. When the same behaviors and actions are done day after day, without change, kids don’t have to worry about what the day will look like. They don’t have to wonder what will happen that day. They don’t have to worry about what they should or shouldn’t do. They know what to do, they know how to do it, and they know when to do it. Routines can bring peace to your kiddos by eliminating change and anxiety and creating a safe space at home.
Routines Help Adults with Emotional Stress
Any of your parents struggle with anger and yelling at bedtime? How about getting the kids out of the door in the morning for school? I know we used to have awful mornings trying to get the kids dressed and ready for school in the mornings, and bedtime was full of yelling parents and crying kids.
But when we started implementing routines, that all changed. Our kids are ready for bed in about 20 minutes, and we get out the door in the mornings without arguing and yelling (most days anyway!).
Because routines are rituals, done every day, kids learn what to do, and they learn the order to do it in. Routines eliminate the need for parents to coerce, argue and beg their kids to get things done so parents are less angry and frustrated.
How To Establish a Routine
There are four main steps to establish a routine.
1. Identify where you need a routine.
Find places in your day where a routine could help your family. Knowing the expectations you have for various times of the day can help you find places to implement a routine. Identifying the places in your day where you can implement a routine and set expectations is the first step.
2. Decide on the routine
What do you want to get done? Knowing what needs to be done throughout the day, and on which days, will help you decide what you want the routine to accomplish and when you need to do it.
3. Be disciplined
It takes 21 days to establish a routine, and the hardest part of establishing a new routine is being disciplined to keep doing it. This requires patience and hard work from the parents, but the pay off is totally worth the effort of sticking to the new routine.
4. Give verbal praise
Everyone is more motivated when they receive praise, so be sure to incorporate encouragement and praise into your routine. Encourage yourself to be disciplined, and praise your children when they accomplish the routine. This positive feedback will help cement the routine into your day.
Even though I personally hate routines and struggle with implementing them, I’ve seen a huge positive impact on my family’s behavior and my kid’s abilities to accomplish daily activities. We’ve implemented routines for bedtime, for before school, for dinner time, for chores, and even for our daily summer schedule! I’ve love to hear where you could use a routine for your family! Do you need a routine for bedtime? For getting ready for school? For dinner time? For doing chores? Leave me a comment and I’ll be sure to address your routine issues in a future blog article.