Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Twenty : The Importance of Routine

There's something familiar and comforting to most of us about a routine. A sense of peace that comes from the habitual. Most of us have routines that have become so ingrained in our daily life that we don't even think about them. For instance, I bet you have a shower routine. I know I do. Every time I shower, I follow roughly the same steps in the same order. In fact, my shower program is so drilled into my brain now that I've actually derailed the process by trying to go out of order and ended up with facewash in my hair. I'm not kidding.

Routines are especially important for children. I've never read a book about parenting that didn't emphasize the importance of pattern in the daily life of a child. There are different extremes to which you might follow your particular routine, but it seems to be almost universally agreed upon that children thrive when they know what to expect each day.

Since I had my baby girl, our family has taken a moderate stance on the idea of routine. Most days follow the same general pattern, but we also work around unplanned and unexpected events when necessary. For example, sometimes the kids stay up a little later when we have special guests for dinner. Our routine may look like a schedule, but we don't follow the clock religiously.
The biggest reason that we follow a specific pattern is to keep our kids functioning well. I don't know about yours, but when my kids are hungry or tired, they get cranky... and whiny... and hard to handle. They rarely have enough self-awareness to recognize why their mood stinks so it's up to me and the hubs to help prevent the fall-out. By putting my baby boy down for a nap at a particular time, he gets the rest he needs and we avoid the whiny tantrums that usually take place when he's overtired. My daughter no longer naps, but we still give her a period of quiet activity each day while her brother sleeps so she gets a break (if it's a school day, she has quiet time at school and a little break at home after school.)

Here's the basic daily routine for my kids on school days:
7:00 Baby girl (4 1/2) wakes and comes into our room for a snuggle
7:30 Baby boy (20 months) wakes and has a bottle
8:00 Breakfast, get ready for the day
9:00 BG goes to preschool, BB goes with me to run errands
10:15 BB has a snack and we play outside for a while (sometimes I bring a snack if we have lots of errands)
11:30 Lunch
12:15 BB has a nap
2:00 Pick up BG at school
2:30 Small snack & maybe a tv show or playtime
3:30 More errands if needed or an outing to the library, swim lessons, etc.
5:00 Play outside or watch a short tv show during dinner prep
5:30/5:45 Dinner
6:45 Bath, get ready for bed
7:15 Bedtime for BB, quiet play for BG with Dad
8:00 Stories & bedtime for BG

As I said before, the routine varies depending on activities or special events. But we make meals, naptime and bedtime a priority every day. It helps everyone function better and keeps us all happier. What's your key to a good routine??

You can see the entire 31 day series up to now by clicking here.

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