As a Contact Mom, I often tout the advantages that structure and routine can bring to one’s day, both for parents and children alike. And while I often share this with my words, it probably hasn’t inspired hordes of people to change. I’ve often struggled to find a way to paint a picture that really shows moms the benefit of a routine and that motivates them to lasting change.
I am currently in a season of downsizing my home. In an effort to pick up some tips, I started watching a television show about tidying your home and I was inspired afresh on the benefits of structure and routine. There are many advantages to bringing order into your family life, beyond just having an organized closet. As you read these, perhaps you will be inspired too.
- Order brings peace. As the adults in a home work to sort out and organize their things, there is a calming effect – not just on Mom and Dad but on the children, too. Children actually appear to have more self-control once a home is in order! Maybe part of this is that the adults in their world are no longer stressed out, or maybe it’s because they are able to pay closer attention to the kids. Yet, I can’t help but think that the orderly environment effects them directly too. As image-bearers of an orderly and creative God, I think we are wired this way. This peaceful result is universally expressed regardless of age, season of life, social/cultural background, or worldview and speaks to the fact that on a basic level as humans we crave and thrive in order.
- Structure brings freedom. That statement on its surface may seem self-contradictory but bringing order into a home gives you more time. Because there is a plan or a system for getting the necessary things done, there is more time to do the things that bring us joy like reading to or playing with the kids, dating your spouse, or simply having a conversation as a couple. In the same way that decluttering our homes of physical stuff gives us a sense of freedom, decluttering our lives and structuring our time can do the same. We’ve all had the experience of driving home and not remembering the trip when we got there. This happens because our brains go on autopilot for the task of driving and are freed to think on other things while we drive. Structure in our homes and routines can do the same thing. Things get done more efficiently because we don’t have to stop and think about what to do next. We form patterns and habits that free our minds to focus on other important things while we do them.
- What doing life with kids can look like. Parents can engage the kids in the process and teach them the things they are learning. When organizing your home, parents can teach their kids how to fold clothes and tidy up. When a mom is going through her pile of clothes, she can have her daughter “help” her decide what to keep. When she goes through the things in the bathroom, she can give her daughter a fun activity to do nearby and chat with her while she is working. This will help keep the child from mischief elsewhere and keep her connected to Mom. Parents are teaching their kids good (or bad) habits through modeling them.
In Deuteronomy 6 parents are told to teach the Lord’s commands to their children and talk of them “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” So pretty much all the time! If you are always keeping your kids occupied in play, screens, or other activities while you get things done, you are robbing them of not only learning those skills but more importantly, you miss opportunities to talk of deeper things and pass on God’s ways more organically as you go about the day.
Structure and routine can bring peace and joy by giving us time for the people and things we find truly important.
Beth Ann Plumberg has been a contact mom since 1995. She has been married to Chuck for 36 years. They are active in teaching parents in their local church. They have 4 grown sons, 4 beautiful daughters-in-love, 3 adorable grandchildren with #4 on the way!