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3 R’s Every Kid Needs

April 26, 2019

Kids need Rules, Routines, and daily Responsibilities.  Last time I wrote about Rules.  This time, let’s think about Routines.

The older I get, the more I like routines.  I have to intentionally kick myself out of ruts from time to time, because of this.  Sometimes ruts start as routines.  Many years ago, a friend told me that a rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out.  He was probably right.

But even accounting for the dark side of routines (ruts), there’s a huge upside with them.  Having routines means I have fewer things to tax my brain with for decision-making.  Like when will I get up in the morning and go to bed at night.  How, how much and when will I exercise?  What tasks will I dive into at the start of my workday?  I have a pretty routine way to drive to my office.  I routinely take this way, out of the three ways that are available to me.  Sometimes I shake things up and take a different route, but I mostly take the same route.  Creativity people say going to work the same way will stifle my creativity if I do it all the time.  Like my friend, they’re probably right.  So I take alternate routes from time to time.  But most of the other routines in my life are there to make it easier to me to get from point A to point B, and they simplify my life.

For kids, routines help provide a stable and dependable environment.  If bedtime is almost always at the same time every night, and rise-and-shine time is almost always a the same time every morning, it gives them stability.  They will tell you they want to go to bed and get up whenever they want to, and may even make a convincing case for it.  But the two bookends for their day need to be routine and stable.  Nobody becomes an ax murderer because they had inconsistent bedtimes, so don’t put this in that category.  Kids need to have some things in their lives that they can count on, though, even if they don’t particularly like them.

Think about the routines that are in place in your household.  What are some things that almost always happen at the same way, at the same time every day or night?  And then ask yourself why this is.  Some routines have no really good reason to be in place.  You’d be smart to get rid of those.  But some routines are routine for a good reason: they work.

Your kids don’t know that they thrive better with routines.  They’re not likely to ask you to initiate routines, so don’t wait for that to happen.  Since you’re the adult, you’re the one who can best set routines that are good and appropriate.

I’ll give you a few suggestions, but there are lots of simple ways you can create worthy routines in your family.  I mentioned bedtime and rise-and-shine time.  Here’s a few more.

  • Where do dirty towels go after baths or showers?  Make a designated place for them, so that they can go there routinely.
  • Where do backpacks and/or book bags go when kids get home from school?  Make a designated place for them, so that they can go there routinely.
  • What time is dinner?
  • What comes first?  Homework or free time?  Decide and make it a routine.
  • Prayers at bedtime and mealtime should be routine.

You get the picture.  There are lots of important things that need to happen every day, or several times every day.  If you put them into routines, you help everybody remember to get them done, and you provide a source of consistent stability in almost subliminal ways.  Even very mundane things that can be put into a routine.

Breaking with the routine can be good, too.  Sometimes deviating from the normal is a good thing.  Variety is good.  But so are routines.  And leveraging routines with consistency is a small way to give your kids consistency and stability that will set them up to thrive.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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