Kids thrive on a routine – it helps them learn how to operate within a family structure, and provides them a sense of security in this often unpredictable world. As parents we know the value of scheduled mealtimes, naptimes, playtimes, and bedtimes. But what about the in-between times around the scheduled times? Can too much scheduling create problems as well? Absolutely! How do you find the “sweet spot” of just enough scheduling to give your kids what they need?
No one knows your children as well as you do. Some kids simply need a more scheduled life than other kids. Some kids can go with the flow, while others may see “flow” as a form of stress. Think about how your kids behave when you travel or go to friends’ houses. If your child feels anxious or seems out of sorts, they may need more of a steady routine.
Creating a routine for your child can be easier than you might think. It requires planning and organization, but for a child who thrives on a routine, the benefits will prove it worthwhile. Perhaps instead of thinking about a routine as a day-to-day occurrence, think of a routine as a weekly machine. Schedule the day’s naptimes and bedtimes, of course, and then look forward at what else needs to happen each week.
Maybe the grocery shopping can happen on Mondays. Tuesdays may find you tackling the laundry and changing the sheets (kids can help with this chore and some love it!). Wednesdays you could plan a trip to the library with lunch at a park afterwards with a group of friends. See what pops up for the rest of the week. Most importantly, see how your child reacts to hearing certain chores or activities are planned for certain days and observe how they feel about your routine.
Thinking about your weeks and how to create a routine may seem awkward and lacking in spontaneity at first, but after a while, your family will fall into the schedule and enjoy the reliability this can provide. Of course, you get to choose what works best for you and your family. If you find a routine too restricting, back off and try something else. Sometimes the best way to figure if something works can be from seeing it doesn’t work at all!