I used to know someone who despised routines. He said they made everything predictable and he couldn’t enjoy his life. My thoughts and not so nice replies at times were, “Well, you know, your rebellion against routines is actually a routine itself. An unhealthy one!” I wonder what he believes now about two decades later.
I cannot function without a routine. It’s like I’m lost and don’t know what to do next. Yes, really! And if mom doesn’t keep order, the kids are going to take over and we certainly cannot have that happen.
We spend a lot of time with our children. We understand how they function best and what will bring them struggles. One afternoon my son came home extremely upset because I gave him a turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch. I looked up at him in complete shock. “Really? There’s no way I did that. I’m sorry. I know you don’t like cheese in your sandwich.” Then I hear my husband from the other end of the room say, “I packed the lunches last night.” I’m so used to doing it, that I forgot he was the guilty one.
Our son’s routine is a very plain turkey sandwich for lunch. After seeing and hearing how distraught Evan was over a turkey sandwich, daddy never forgot that one again. I, on the other hand, have been known to inadvertently get the sandwiches mixed up every now and again. OOPS!
When we know what to expect from each other each day, families function better. We can support each other better as well. Routines really can help! They keep life organized and prevent chaos on most days. Children also do very well with routines, because they are regular, predictable and consistent. I mean, have you seen their classroom sticker chart?
Bedtime is by far my most favorite routine
Maybe it’s because my kids are all washed up, teeth brushed and smelling amazing when I go to read them a story and tuck them into bed. Haha!
I have an alarm on my phone that goes off at 7:40 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, that prompts my children to begin their bedtime routine. Most days they have already showered before 7:40 p.m., so it’s a matter of brushing their teeth and picking out a book before my husband and/or I get there. Most nights our children are tucked into bed with plenty of hugs and kisses by 8 p.m. This gives my husband and me plenty of time to discuss the next day’s events or have some time to ourselves.
I will confess that I used to wait until 8:30 p.m. to start our bedtime routine. But after a few breakdowns, I realized that was too late. So if you are feeling a bit drained and crabby while tucking your sweet babies to bed, you might want to consider starting a bit earlier. Typically, school-aged children need anywhere from nine to twelve hours of sleep. It makes all the difference in the child that you get in the morning! Are you looking for crabby patties or smiling faces? Personally, I am in the business of smiling faces.
Our morning routines begin with their very own alarm clocks
We have three children ages 17, nine and seven, and all three set their alarm clock each day. It wasn’t always this way and I had to grow myself to allowing this to happen. We moms tend to linger a bit too long sometimes. Shocker!
I was forced to look at this when our youngest started kindergarten and was having some confidence issues. To explain it nicely, he needed someone to sit next to him and tell him every answer was correct before moving on. Sound like your kindergartener? Well, his amazing teacher suggested I stop helping him do everything, which I slightly resented. I mean, he’s my baby. And, also, who has time to WAIT! We’ve got to go, go, go and quickly.
I knew I had to grow my patience and allow my children their space to figure things out without mommy hovering. This meant we had to get up earlier. EEK! After spending what seems like a lifetime on Pinterest searching for ideas, I found a few that I liked. We put together some weekday cubbies, which are filled with their weekly clothes and got the younger two an alarm clock. I built in a few minutes of cushion time too, and it’s been awesome! My kids are able to respond to the alarm, wash up, get dressed and join us for breakfast. (Okay, so sometimes they’re not dressed before getting to the breakfast table. Other times they may need a few words of encouragement. Wink, wink!) But for the most part, it works! The more we do it, the better it gets and the more I trust them. They’re taking ownership of their lives. This momma scored big time!
Remember to always celebrate ALL achievements. Trust me, you’ll understand when your raising teens.
The challenging part of routines is trying to figure out what works best for your family
This step probably means finding a happy compromise between disorder and confusion most days. You can quickly find a chaotic and ugly mess when nobody knows what is expected. For us, the first day of school is a joy-filled mess every single time. On the other hand, some routines bring too much structure and can be really boring. Like making plain turkey sandwiches for lunch five days a week.
Routines bring a sense of normalcy and consistency to our family. Consistency brings progress that you can actually see. That is really exciting! I love and appreciate being able to look at those first and last days of school social media posts each year. I’m secretly picturing all the growth that came out of those routines for all involved.
Tips for creating a routine
Are you looking for some ideas to implement into your routine? I’d encourage you to begin with your weekday, bedtime and morning routines. Put as many things in order as you can the night before. Always keep a cheerful and positive tone to your routines. Be sure to feed your family’s brain every morning and give out those extra hugs and kisses at night. Most of all, forgive yourself for the fails and keep moving forward. There’s plenty of time to recover, start over and improve.