A new year has arrived and with it, an ideal opportunity to explore family routines. Following consistency in routines supports parenting and increases your child’s sense of well-being and security. It is as a good time as ever to continue to consider your family’s routines and any changes you would like to make.
The following are our ’10 way’ parenting tips on how to approach reviewing the routines you have in place and looking at new ways to incorporate routines as your child grows:
- Think about how and why routines are useful. Maintaining clear routines in the home supports children’s well being in many ways. Children like to know what to expect in the form of activities and behaviours. Routine helps us as parents too, and can increase harmony in the home, reduce stress and increase productivity and a sense of achievement and connection.
- Children usually have a very clear routine from birth around feeding, sleeping and nappy time. Sometimes as our children grow we rigidly continue with routines in these areas but often times we don’t. Think about what routines you currently follow.
- Explore any parts of the day when you have a good routine in place that works for all, for example, perhaps the getting to school schedule flows perfectly every morning. What does this do for you and your children? Do you find that things run smoother at these times and everyone gets on well?
- What happens at the times you don’t have a clear routine in place, for example, perhaps the homework routine? What impact does this have? Children and parents can get confused, frustrated or anxious when we don’t know what to expect which can lead to challenging behaviours.
- It is important to have consistent routines around not only eating and sleeping and practical schedules, but around behaviours also.
- It is your job to implement the routine, but your children need to know and understand it. Talk with children about routines and how they help. Allow them have a voice in what works and doesn’t work for them.
- As seasons change and children grow, routines will change too. Be open to this change. If a plan is not working, even if it used to, then stop doing it. Review it with your children, build on it and make a new plan. As the parent, ensure you follow through.
- Some people very much resist routine. Explore why this is the case. Think about what your child needs. Most children need security and this can often be achieved through clear routines. Following routines does not mean you have to be rigid; you can be flexible, but ensure your child knows why a change in the routine is occurring. Some children do well with change and others do not.
- Think about your own life, separate to being a parent. What routines are in place for you? What happens when you can’t follow the routine? Sometimes it means your needs are not met, which in turns affects how you are, how you can cope, and how you parent.
- Talk with your children about routines this week. What is working now and what doesn’t work so well? Agree some new routines for 2016 and then look back later in the year to see how they have hopefully helped to improve happiness and harmony in your home.
This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.
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