We are a couple weeks into the new year now. The kids are back in school. We are back at work. And life is back to normal. We are finally settling into our daily schedules and routines that go out the window during the holidays.
And while the spontaneous and hectic nature of the holidays can be fun, it’s a nice feeling returning to our routines, isn’t it? To a certain degree, we enjoy knowing what each day holds, what we have to do and what is expected from us.
And just as we crave a certain amount of order and routine in our day-to-day, so do our children. In fact, order and routine for kids plays a crucial role in their daily interactions with us adults, as well as their overall development.
You may be wondering what I mean when I refer to order and routine for kids.
I’m speaking about:
Order and routine for kids in their daily schedule.
Order in their daily physical space.
For young children, especially toddlers to 4 year olds, order and routine can make a world of difference in their daily lives.
Order and routine for kids may look like knowing:
The sequence of events after waking up in the morning or after nap. Waking up, using the toilet, changing clothes, etc.
Who is watching over them on a given day be it a sitter or a family member.
Which days they are going to school or daycare if they don’t attend a Monday-Friday program.
Which items or toys they can choose to work with or play with at a given time of day. For example, before nap it may be a quiet time for books while after nap may be for outdoor toys and play.
Where drawing or coloring materials are located, how to use them and how to clean up when they are done.
Where the snack is for that day, how much they can take and where they should eat it.
The sequence of events after dinner and what is expected of them. Do they help clean up, take a bath and read books in bed?
In a way, we can think of order and routine for kids as expectations.
When we maintain a certain amount of order and routine for kids, we are helping them know what to expect throughout their day and also what is expected from them (be it in relation to their daily schedule, their physical space or family routines).
Giving children this structure helps them feel safe and secure. They are secure in relation to us adults and in relation to their environment. Moreover, order and routine for kids can have some fantastic short-term and long-term benefits for both children and adults.
Creating more order and routine at home can:
Reduce tantrums, struggles and frustration for both adults and kids while making transitions smoother.
Reduce the amount of time and energy spent trying to convince or command a child into understanding.
Promote children’s independence, self-confidence and emotional wellbeing.
Lay a lifetime foundation for order and routine, as well as understanding sequence which are all an essential part of daily life.
By fostering order and routine for kids every day, we are ultimately creating a framework of expectations for children. We create a safe space that then allows kids to be kids and allows us adults to take a step back. We learn that we do not need to try and control our children but instead only need to guide them.
This can be achieved by making small changes at home in the way we communicate to little ones, to the way we organize their physical space, to the ways we give them ownership over their daily life.
It does take work on the part of the adult, but in exchange for some serious life changing benefits.
In the next post, I will share some big and small ways to foster order and routine for kids in your home.