Let’s get real. It is hard to stick to a routine in the chaos of modern, ever-changing family life with children. Some weeks I find myself drifting into survival mode to get through the schedules. I bend myself to stay on top of everything! Changing meeting times, messages about who will drive to activities, evening meetings, and early mornings, picking up, dropping off, arranging play dates, organizing who’s making dinner and who’s doing what chores.
“Flexibility” is every parent’s superpower! So, how to combine “flexibility” with set routines?
Let’s first look at why having a set routine?
What are the secret benefits of routines for families?
Research shows that family routines are good for our well-being and contribute to family relationships. When a family has some set routines and meaningful rituals, it provides a predictable structure and consistency. “Predictability and consistency” seem to be the secret keys!
Research on the developing brain shows that it thrives on repetition! When a child experiences a positive and predictable environment, they are less stressed and are better able to regulate their emotions, and more open to learning. In short; predictability creates a consistent environment, which encourages self-regulation and growth. And isn’t that what we want for everyone in the family; “self-regulation and growth”?
Everyone is unique…
We are all different, and when it comes to finding a good routine for our family, it depends upon the needs of the family member. Most of us, however, try to build in some structured routines within variable schedules, with set routines for, getting up in the morning, getting home from school, and getting ready for bed. These are prime transition times that work out better with set routines.
…and we are all visual learners
When it comes to learning and memory, researchers have proven that vision trumps all our senses. We simply understand and remember better with visual support. Scientists call it Pictorial Superiority Effect or PSE.
Using pictures or written schedules supports us, and teaches our children, to use schedules and organize their time. Often, we can start with more firm routines and schedules, and build in greater flexibility over time. A visual schedule will help a child to better remember what is expected of them and break down a routine into smaller tasks. This is a great way to teach how to handle flexibility!