Written by Trisha Pull
As the carefree days of summer fade into the demands of another school year, I’m tempted to view the needed return to routine as an imposition. I readily focus on the sacrifice required to maintain routine without remembering the many gifts that it delivers. If you’re in need of encouragement to spur you into routine this fall, take a look at these ten gifts of rhythm and routine:
Gift #1: Routines help all types of children.
Whether children desire routine or not, all children benefit from its structure. For children who like to know what the day holds before it unfolds, established routines provide an easy answer to the constant question, “What’s next?” And for children who are less concerned with “what’s next,” routine helps them develop a sense for order and the value of planning ahead.
Gift # 2: Routines are boundaries.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Routines naturally teach children that there are times and places for all activities. This Biblical principle helps children understand through regular practice that when it’s school time, it’s not time to read comics, organize one’s rock collection or text with a friend.
Gift #3: Routines save time and foster independence.
In our home, the morning routine for children is to get dressed, brush teeth, complete a pre-assigned chore, and eat breakfast. Our kids understand this sequence begins as soon as they wake each day. They don’t ask me what to do when they wake up, because they already know the plan. Daily independent practice trains them, while saving me the time of having to individually direct six people.
Gift #4: Routines help put priorities first.
School is the primary training ground for our children in education and in character development. It’s also the first thing on our daily docket after chores and breakfast. Placing school at the beginning of the day helps emphasize its importance to our children. As an added bonus, it also heightens the likelihood that we will complete our school related tasks for the day, since it is first.
Gift #5: Routines naturally develop good habits.
Like many families, we require our kids to brush their teeth both morning and night. This important habit is wrapped into our before school routine and bedtime routine. Over time, teeth brushing, simply because it has been repeated twice daily for years, becomes a lifelong habit that no longer requires reminding.
Gift #6: Routines provide consistency and predictability.
Kids thrive in environments that are consistent and predictable, and regular routine naturally aids in creating these healthy environments. For example, the simple routine of visiting your child in bed at night to talk and pray with them helps communicate that you care about them and you’ll be there, no matter what the day has held.
Gift #7: Routines reduce conflict.
Even though kids may not be excited about math, if it’s just part of the daily schedule. There’s a time for math, just like for reading, and we tackle it as the schedule dictates. There’s no point in arguing about it, because it ineluctably happens at the same time every day.
Gift #8: Routines create order.
Our routine of children cleaning up while I prep dinner is a way of creating order in our schedule and in our home. We all enjoy a more tidy house each evening because it’s our routine to clean up at 5:30.
Gift #9: Routines help us to be intentional.
Having a decided flow to our day indicates that at some point we intentionally thought about what is best for our family. Having a routine avoids us passing days with no consideration of what is most important and how we might accomplish it.
Gift #10: We can begin routines anytime. Even today.
If you’re convinced routines are helpful, but you’re not sure where to start, here are a few simple tips for creating routines for chores and schedules with your children.
Start with one task.
Begin with one task for your children: a morning job of getting dressed or a pre-dinner job of picking up all the toys in the living room.
Establish clear expectations.
If your child’s job is to get dressed, does that also involve putting their pajamas in the dirty clothes bin? Are they expected to only put toys in the basket or are they picking up trash and sweeping also?
Once you’ve clearly explained the routine of getting dressed each morning or picking up toys in the evening, you complete it with them the first few days. Once they’ve got it, you can be there to watch, but not provide input until the child has completed the task. When you know they can successfully complete the routine, they can work independently and you can check their work upon completion.
Add another task.
Once a routine has been established and a child is successful for a period of time, give them another routine to work on.
You may need to have a schedule that works similarly for each day of the week or a different schedule for each day. Our daily schedule is created to provide structure, with flexibility. Our family has benefited for years from a routine that uses 9:00AM and 6:00PM as anchors for the day. At 9:00AM, we begin school and at 6:00PM, we eat dinner. We try to keep the flow of our day similar from day to day, but we allow our curiosity, the need for additional work time and instruction, and our outside the house schedule to dictate how long we spend on each task, each day. Here’s our routine:
- Morning Chores
- School Time: 9:00AM
- Morning meeting with Bible, Science, History and read aloud
- Independent work: math, reading, handwriting, language arts, etc.
- Outside Time/Errands
- Dinner Prep & Evening Clean Up
- Dinner – 6:00
- Family Time
It’s okay if your routine looks wildly different from ours. Your family is likely not the same as ours and your routine ought to reflect your family needs and priorities.
Download this free block schedule to help you set up your family’s routine.
As you consider routine and rhythm, allow me to encourage you in two directions::
- Thank God for the wonderful gifts He’s given us through routine.
- Ask God to direct your steps regarding routine: to both show you what to do and how to do it.
This fall, by God’s grace, let’s wholly embrace rhythm and routine as gifts that produce lasting fruit in us, in our home and in our children.