Most parents understand that where there are children, there is chaos. As a home-schooling mother of five, I know this scenario all too well. Having a routine in our home is a powerful way to eliminate a very large amount of the daily chaos that can come into our family and bring it down to a much more manageable level. In making and keeping a routine, the following eight suggestions can help families create and implement a routine of their own.
Involve your children. Discuss why a routine would be valuable to your family and allow the children to share their thoughts on the idea. When you open it up as a discussion and involve everyone, including the children, they will be more willing to follow the routine.
Together with your children, make a list of the important activities that you want included in your daily routine. Some of these things could include exercise, chores, teeth-brushing, showers or baths, school, or reading time, just to name a few. Once you know what is important to everyone, you have a fantastic place to start.
Make the routine reasonable. Do not over-schedule your day or your children, this creates more stress than you had before. When you make the routine crammed and rigid, it becomes nearly impossible to follow and your family will give up after the first day.
Make sure to schedule some downtime for yourself and your children. While children need structure, they also need time to play. They need time to explore their own creativity, to dream, and to make-believe without a parent directing them. This is the wonder of childhood. Make sure that, in your day of scheduling, you schedule time for freedom. Freedom is equally beneficial for parents. Time to unwind, to think, to ponder, or to read. You will find that by scheduling a little time for yourself, you will be more available for your children.
Decide what times are strict and which activities can be flexible. For example, in our home the time we wake up and bedtime are strict, with few exceptions, we do not budge on the time of these two activities. Chore time and time with friends, however, is sometimes flexible, depending on the circumstances of each day.
Once you have figured out your routine, write it down and display it for everyone to see. That way, everyone knows what is expected of them, and it will help them remember what they should be doing. If there are small children in the house, try to include pictures so that they can feel included.
Limit interruptions to your routine by making others aware of it. In our neighborhood, we have the famous “STOP sign” for our doors. It is a large paper stop sign that simply says, “STOP, please do not ring the door bell or knock. We cannot play right now. Please come back later when our quiet time is over.” It is a terrific way to limit interruptions in our routine.
Do your very best to stick to the routine as much as possible. It is said that it takes 66 days to make something a habit, so do your very best to stick to it every day. The more you do it, the more “routine” it will become.
Learning to set and follow a routine is a great way to limit chaos and build a sense of family unity in your home. As families pull together to make their routine work, they will find that their routine will really work for their family.