We know babies benefit from strong routines and the good news is that nothing changes as they get older. Children fear what they do not know – new foods, new environments, new people.
Routines help to create security and reduce stress and anxiety. Effective routines are well-planned and consistent, but routines look different for everyone.
It is important to create a routine that works for you, your child and your family. Do what works for you and your child.
Why are routines so important?
- Schedule and keep calm. Routines keep your child on a schedule; this helps eating, sleeping, play times and promotes calm behaviour at times of rest.
- Family bonding. Having a routine for family activities like going to church, visiting the park, walks or game night helps to prioritise quality time together and even kick-off traditions.
- Clear expectations. When a routine is consistent, children begin to expect what will happen next, which can lead to less resistance and opposition.
- Well-established routines help children know what they are expected to do and can often do it by themselves. They will feel proud of this.
- Healthy habits. Time management and self-discipline are just two characteristics that will develop overtime through routine, and you’ll be thankful for it as your child gets older!
- Do it for you. Routines help us as much as our children when it comes to self-discipline and reducing stress. Family life is busy and tiring, so create routines that will take the pressure off and help you focus on the important and rewarding things.
- Stability in uncertainty. Routines provide stability when change happens. Whether it’s starting school, sickness or even welcoming a new baby in the family, sticking to a routine will help your child feel a sense of normality.
A word about flexibility
Please remember, some days the routine just won’t work. Be kind to yourself, allow your child extra grace on these days. Life happens! Some families choose to live by the 80/20 principle. For 80% of the time, they are in routine, but for the remaining 20%, be flexible – whether it’s to get through a difficult change or enjoy a splash of spontaneity.
Bedtimes might be missed for weddings, birthday parties, trips away. That’s ok!
As children grow and change, so will their routines. Adjust as you need to.