Rituals and Routines Save Your Sanity: Part II

Getting Started:  Part Two in a Four-Part Series on Rituals and Routines

The Rhythm of My Day…I’ve always loved that title for our book and current baby class unit, for that’s what routines are a way of carving out a rhythm.  I remember so vividly as a child how I would get to the end of summer and crave school again.  It certainly wasn’t that I wanted homework or even really to see my friends, there was plenty of that in the long hot summer days.  No, I longed for routine.  It is comforting to me, and I completely relate when I read all those parenting books that say routine provides comfort, predictability, safeness to children.  I guess in the end I’m a child at heart.  Maybe that’s why I love this job so much.

Getting Started

First of all, as you’re putting together routines you might find it useful to come up with a basic schedule.  In fact, some experts say that having a set routine like this can greatly aid not only with discipline but also with sleep!  There are plenty of folks who find it helpful to set things by the clock:  6:30 am breakfast, 7:00 am get dressed, etc.  Others find it works better to simply establish a rhythm:  breakfast, diaper change, get dressed, playtime, naptime two hours after waking up, snack, etc.  Either way, I do recommend that as your child gets older (by which I mean over 18 months) that you actually post your routine somewhere they can see it or make a book of it.  Here’s why:  having it written out really helps you both follow it more consistently, and then you can show your child, look first we eat breakfast, then get dressed.  Is your 18 month old going to get all of this?  Not necessarily, but by the time they are two, it will start to make a real difference for them to be able to see the routine.  It helps them cope with the transitions especially.  And what about those kiddos under 18 months? Even though they won’t fully understand, babies still love the predictability of an established schedule and will delight in seeing the pictures and going through them with you every now and then (especially if you take photos of them.)  As they grow, the routines will just seem like how things work in your household, so the earlier you start the more likely they will be to fall into step with any pattern you set.

Since children think in pictures rather than words well into their early school years, you’ll want to make your schedule out of pictures.  (Perhaps you’ve seen just such a schedule in pictures at your local preschool or daycare.)  You can do this with photos of your child, drawings, or if you’d like some really great pre-made ones you can check out this great set by the folks at Conscious Discipline.

For children who like a lot of control – First, take a breath, though it’s hard now, these are what the folks who grew up to change the world were like as children.  Now as you’re thinking of setting a schedule, enlist your child’s help.  Perhaps they’d like to help take photos of themselves doing some of the scheduled activities or even to draw their own pictures.  Or perhaps they’d like to help create the schedule.  Maybe they’d prefer to get dressed and then eat breakfast.  Giving them some input makes them more likely to comply with your requests to follow the routine when the time comes.

Now use it. So, when the time comes for your evening routine maybe you say, “Hey, we’ve finished supper, let’s see what’s next on our schedule?  Oh, look it’s a picture of you helping clean up.  What time does that mean it is?  You’re right, it’s clean-up time.  What should we clean-up first – your room or the family room?”  Doesn’t that feel better than even “All-right everyone, time to clean-up!”  Just the novelty of it will give you some new ways to get through some of those transitions, and again, it gives your child both more predictability in their day (which means they feel more safe and therefore more likely to comply) and what feels like more control to them (“Hey, I know what comes next.  I can do it by myself!”).

At Home: Begin to think about how you’d like to schedule your day with your child.  Think of where you’d like to post your schedule for them to see, and start to make photos or drawings for your schedule.

Read Part I:  Introduction

Read Part III:  Favorite Songs and Tricks  for Transitions

Read Part IV:  The Beauty of Rituals

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One Response to “Rituals and Routines Save Your Sanity: Part II”
  1. [...] Read Part Two, in which we talk about setting up a routine to make getting through the day a whole l... ... kindermusikwithjoy.net/2011/03/rituals-and-routines-save-your-sanity

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