Routines may sound dull but adding structure to your day can be very beneficial, especially for children.
In this guide, we will cover the benefits of creating routines, the best ways to get started and additional resources for further info.
Let’s jump straight in!
Benefits of routines
Knowing what’s about to happen can help your little one feel more independent as they feel like they can take charge of what they do rather than just being told what to do.
Routines are useful for establishing boundaries for your child, this can help them with self-discipline and self-regulation (click here for our all you need to know guide).
Developing routines can help your little one build healthy habits – these can include washing hands after using the toilet, cleaning teeth etc.
Daily transitions like going to bed or heading to nursery can be made easier when your little one knows what to expect and when – this can also help reduce tantrums.
Living in an organised environment can give your little one certainty and help them feel safe, which can help reduce anxiety.
Routines can make daily life more enjoyable! Preparing dinner together or snuggling up to read a bedtime story can be great fun and an amazing time for bonding.
Finally, routines can help your little one better deal with big events (e.g. moving home, a new sibling etc) as they have a familiar daily structure to support them.
Every family is different – with different patterns and needs so routines have to be catered to your lifestyle, there's no ‘one fits all’.
For a routine to work it needs to be planned, predictable and consistent.
Rather than thinking let’s structure the whole day (which can quickly become overwhelming), start looking at the area which you find the most stressful. Think about a routine you could introduce to make it easier!
For example: introduce a morning routine by setting times for waking up, having breakfast and leaving for nursery.
Be prepared by getting things ready the night before such as clothes, a bag etc.
And keep to a predictable order, for example, cuddles, brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, shoes & coats and leaving the house.
Sticking to a routine
Having a routine can be tough initially but in the long term, it can be really beneficial. Here are some tips to help your little one get on board:
Talk to your little one and tell them what is going to happen, this will help them feel reassured – ‘we’ll have breakfast, go to nursery and after nursery, we’ll go see grandma together’.
Let them know ahead of time if something is about to change e.g. ‘we’ll turn the tv off after this show and then it’s bedtime’.
Consider using something visual like a timetable or photos/drawings to show routines that your little one struggles with – this will help your little one better understand what is expected of them.
While forming a routine is important, don’t be afraid to occasionally break from the norm.
Your little one will be helped with a recognisable pattern, but flexibility is also good so that days don’t become too rigid (and also helps them better prepare for big changes).
Finally, with routines helping you tackle more stressful parts of the day, you’ll find that there’s more time for relaxation and fun!