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The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.
– Mike Murdock

If someone would have told me years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, that I would plan my day so thoroughly and thrive on a routine as a mama. I probably would’ve rolled my eyes and politely smiled. I remember reading child psychology books when I was in college and being fascinated at the fact that children literally thrive off of routine and familiarity. It was fascinating to read about studies done and brain development.. all pointing at the importance of a routine and how it comforts a child to know what to expect.

I am a lover of lists and a creature of habit myself, so it came naturally to me to implement routines with my children when I became a mama. Although routine is needed in a child’s life, it is natural and normal to be spontaneous once and awhile. Of course, that’s life! The balance is teaching your littles to embrace routine but it’s okay to steer in another direction some days.

Family routines make transitions easier, sets reasonable expectations, and gives the little one ease when it comes to trying to “predict” what his/her day will look like. Whether little ones are waking up in the morning before school, settling down for mealtime, going outside to play or getting ready for bed, they need routines to establish good habits. Children don’t have a lot of control in their lives, but routines can give them a sense of organization, stability, and comfort. All families can benefit from some type of routine to establish normalcy, a way to get things done, and a sense of security.

Children often fear the unknown – whether it’s the broccoli on their plate – or a big life change like moving to a different house or gaining a new sibling. While change is a learning opportunity, it can also be stressful for children. A normal routine brings comfort and consistency to a child’s life. Routines help with behavior management, planning ahead, and literally help the little ones feel safe and secure. You may have a few different routines you follow, such as morning routine, nap time routine, or evening routine, and that’s wonderful! Routines are different than schedules, this is important to know. Don’t confuse a rigid schedule with a routine. Routines guide the family with a general idea or rule.. there is plenty of wiggle room with a routine! A few positive things that occur from having a routine: little ones sleep better, they cooperate more, they find comfort in the expected, their behavior is better, they are more confident, less stressed, and repetition and predictably of routines fosters learning in little ones.

So, embrace routines and remember to allow for flexibility and sensitivity. Only you know your family inside and out, so you know what will work and/or not work for your family. A routine is meant to help your family, not hinder it. Be sure your routine is healthy and positive for your little ones and other family members. Breathe and find comfort together. Be well.

– Jessica Smith, B.S.