Why routine? Why take the time to come up with a workable schedule that you and your kids follow each day? Why bring structure to the home by forming habits and sticking to a plan?
Four main benefits for parents emerge:
- A routine helps me manage my time effectively. It keeps my priorities straight. It keeps peace in my home. It helps me make sure that the necessary things are getting done.
- A routine helps me stay focused. I am naturally drawn to a routine because of my temperament, but others are naturally more drawn to freedom from a schedule. Routine can help ALL of us stay focused and keep our perspective clear.
- The habit of routine trains my character. God put boundaries in our lives to help us define sin. They help keep us aware of God’s standard for our moral compass. Absolute freedom in any area is a dangerous place to be. Boundaries were designed by God to keep us safe.
- And the most encouraging reason: adhering to a structure/routine for our days actually helps eliminate the need for discipline or correction in their behavior. I don’t know about you, but knowing I can eliminate the need for discipline is great news!
Routine brings PEACE to our home. So, how do we begin to structure our days?
Start by making a chart to keep track of how you’re actually using your time. After a week, take a look at the chart and see if you are managing your time effectively and your priorities are staying in line. If not, decide which areas you want to change and choose one or two to start with.
Next, make sure your family is not over-committed with too many activities. It’s OKAY to only do one activity per child, per season. Our culture will constantly tempt you to do too many things. Learn the power of saying NO to too many activities.
Lastly, here are four quick tips to think about when deciding how to structure your day:
- Keep bedtime consistent – put bedtime on the schedule as a reminder
- Keep naps consistent – for younger kids, try to be home over nap time
- Keep meals healthy – pack sandwiches, fruit and water. Use the time to stop at a park to eat and play.
- Work in ½ hour segments – keeping the activities moving throughout the day will help keep the kids on task (for kids under 2, 15 minute segments are best).
A routine is meant to serve you, not enslave you. If you get off the routine for any part of the day, it will still be there, ready to pick up when you come back to it. Our days are going to vary depending on our season of life, but a routine will help you move through them with your sanity still intact and your kids on an even keel.
To find more information on structure and routine, see Chapter 4 of Toddlerhood Transitions and Chapter 4 of On Becoming Toddlerwise.
Julie Bame is wife to Rich, mom to three beautiful girls, a Contact Mom for Christian Family Heritage, and Worship Coordinator at North Clinton Church. Rich and Julie are passionate to see the Kingdom come in all of life, but especially so in marriages and families. They count it a great privilege to walk the journey of parenting with anyone who will join them.