Every house has its own domestic rhythm and harmony – some households are completely chaotic while others may run at the pace of a coma patient. Whatever the rhythm, most of us would love to establish some kind of household routine that satisfies all family members.
Odds are you already have a domestic routine of some kind – bath time, pyjamas, brushing teeth, story time is a bedtime routine that children can come to know and count on. Perhaps you go grocery shopping on Thursdays or you bake together on the weekends. Anything that you do on a regular basis is your routine. Here are five tips to keep in mind when creating routines and establishing a rhythm in your home:
1. First things first
Pick one element to add in to your routine and work on weaving that into your rhythm before you add another. Decide what your top priority is and focus only on that. Maybe you want to start incorporating daily story time. Focus on blending the new task into your schedule before you add more.
It is good to have a goal in mind of where you would like to be eventually, but create a schedule based on the way things are at this moment in time. Do what will work for your family the way things are right now.
If you know your child sleeps in the afternoon, don’t plan afternoon play dates until after naptime. Some families schedule outings for only one day a week to allow the rest of the time to remain low-key. This is the time to be realistic about your time constraints, obligations, and the ages and stages of your children, too.
2. Don’t overschedule a routine
Allow yourself to make changes if things aren’t working. Perhaps the day you chose for housework is creating stressful afternoons because there isn’t enough time to devote to it between nap time and dinner. By staying flexible you can play around with your schedule until you find a day and a time that are a better fit.
Don’t be tempted to over-schedule your days. Allow your family to have some downtime. The purpose of routines is to allow your days to run smoother so that your family can enjoy them. Don’t be tempted to fill up those spaces with more activities and commitments when things are running smoothly. Instead, enjoy the quiet and the slow days.
3. Make changes as the family changes
Families are in a fluid state: children grow, situations change, life happens. When you have babies, sleep routines are important but as they grow older, weaving in crafts, activities and perhaps cooking becomes more of a priority. Being willing to re-evaluate from time to time gives you the freedom to create a routine that meets the needs of your family.
You don’t have to do it all so evaluate what is essential and eliminate what you don’t need. Take out the extra steps and keep things basic.
4. Start Small
Lets say one of the things you want to add to your routine is to start serving your family a a wider variety of vegetables each night. Don’t overwhelm yourself by attempting a different menu every morning of the week or by preparing complex, time-consuming recipes you’ve never tried before. Seek out something simple and tried-and-true that you already know how to make well. Perhaps make it a goal this first week to serve a great meal two nights a week and then next week aim for four.
Get the basics established and once you have a solid foundation you can build on to your routine from there.
5. Make it Personal
Your family’s rhythm isn’t going to look like any other family’s rhythm. That is okay. Family routines are very personal and each household’s will be unique. The only “right” routine is the one that works the best for you for the place where you are today.
Creating routines based on your family’s personal needs means that the changes you seek to make have a greater chance of being successfully implemented.
6. Stay One Step Ahead
Once you know what is essential, do some prep work to make it easier to follow your routines. If you want to have a daily walk, create a designated place to have bags and shoes within easy reach by the door. You’ll be more likely to take a nature walk if you can get dressed quickly and easily instead of having to gather the proper wardrobe from all over the house.
If on Wednesday you want to do craft with the children, then the night before needs to be spent making sure you have all the right materials. Doing this ahead of time allows us to spend less time on prep-work during our painting time and more time on creating.
Some family routines are more structured, some are more free-form but both types of schedules provide value to the kids who count on them and find comfort in their familiarity.
Think young and playful
- “I always suggest going back to childhood, and remembering what you liked then,” suggests Tina. “Sports? Bushwalking? Bicycling or roller skating? Swinging on the swings? Dancing around to music? There are adult versions of all these activities. When you’re doing them, notice the sights, sounds and the way your body feels, so you enjoy the moment.”
- Try these ideas:
- Choose three simple activities you liked as a child (such as watching the clouds, riding a roller coaster or making mud pies). Indulge in them all in one weekend.
- Buy gum boots and jump in puddles after it rains.
- Leave funny or romantic notes for your partner.
- Organise a Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit ‘night in’ with your friends.
- Invite friends over for takeaway and a night of chick flicks.
- Relive old memories by looking through photo albums.
This article was written by Alex Brooks for Kidspot.
Read more on Kidspot:
- Top tips to cope with fears and phobias
- Helping kids cope with change
- Bringing up compassionate kids