I know I know, scheduling and routine are dirty, confining words to some. However, regardless if you are a schedule lover or not, children thrive and gain a sense of security in knowing what is coming next starting at a very young age. Having a consistent daily rhythm or routine is beneficial for both us as parents and our kids!
I like to use the word rhythm – not only because it’s not as threatening to some – but because what our days look like is more of a rhythm then a schedule. New days bring different appointments, errands that need to be run, play dates, weather that effects where we play, different moods, sicknesses etc. Here are three benefits to keeping a daily rhythm.
1. Children respond well to consistency and rhythms. Our children desire structure and familiarity. Children’s fear of the unknown includes everything from a suspicious new vegetable to a major change in their life. Children are confronted with some sort of change daily, which is an opportunity to learn and grow but can also be stressful for them. New skills and information are retained daily such as learning to walk, talk, cross the street, play soccer, ride a bike, new surroundings such as new schools, friends and teachers, children move to new places, new houses, begin going to daycare. That’s a lot of change that children face daily and which most of is out of their control! When changes like these occur in the context of a familiar routine and blend into the daily rhythm it is much less stressful. Yes they have to adjust to this new change but they also have the familiarity of their daily rhythm and expectation of what should be coming next.
2. Knowing when the best time is to set up play dates, appointments, run errands and the like. Our days have similar rhythms so when I do book an appointment I know the best time is around 11:00 after my son’s morning nap or around 3:45 after I pick my oldest up from school. Now of course if their is only a morning appointment available I can be flexible and skip my son’s morning nap that day and make sure we are home the next morning for his nap.
I will admit in the past when my babies were infants I have gone a little overboard on keeping their nap schedule. I called it being trapped by the nap! Growing with my children and having three babies now I have learned that balance is key, very rarely today will I skip my youngest children’s afternoon nap – simply because its just not worth it. Of course if we were going to Disney World or an all day event far away we would ride with the punches and make it as long as we could. But we would not skip the afternoon nap for a play date, my kids would struggle and so would I. However we can be flexible on pushing it out an hour one day or skipping the morning nap. Balance brings sanity!
3. A rhythm helps to calm the chaos. When we have consistency throughout our days, everyone knows what to expect and what is expected of them! Take our week day mornings for instance; ⇒ I wake up around 7:15, get dressed and ready for the day ⇒ I give same a bottle in his crib to give Mitchell an extra few minutes of sleep while I get the girls dressed ⇒ Sam is done his bottle and Mitchell goes in to get him dressed ⇒ the girls know before they go downstairs for breakfast to brush their teeth and hair ⇒ we all head downstairs for breakfast while Mitchell makes Hayden’s lunch ⇒ I make the kids breakfast and read them some scripture ⇒ after breakfast Hayden knows it’s her job to take Callie out before school ⇒ after that we get their backpacks and get ready to leave. Now mornings can be really chaotic and overwhelming for some especially when getting multiple kids ready for the day! But because we have a similar rhythm every day the we all know what we need to do in the mornings and things run a *bit* more smoothly than if we were to wing it every morning.
So no matter if we are “schedule people” or not, both us as parents and our children thrive and benefit from having some sort of rhythm/routine. I hope this encourages someone who has been striving to get into a rhythm, or inspires someone who has just been going with the flow to add in a bit more structure to their families days and see what happens! I would love to hear your thoughts, victories, questions, anything! After all, we do it better when we mom together! ♥♥♥