Routines

How important it is to get the family into a routine?

Sharing toys

Order and routine help to maintain discipline and reinforce any boundaries you set. A routine is invaluable for those things that must be done every day, like feeding and dressing your baby and preparing your own meals. You should give yourself more flexibility on other things. Most of the housework can wait, for instance, although you need to maintain a healthy and safe environment. It’s wise not to be too rigid in your daily scheduling; the unexpected can crop up with babies and young children, and you need to be flexible enough to take it in stride.

Why are routines important?

A routine – that is, a predictable activity or behavior — encourages cooperation by providing an understanding of what will happen. When we understand the order in which things happen, things are less scary and we have more control over the situation.

Routines provide safety and security for us all. Reflect on what you enjoy and take these steps to make those a regular part of your life:

1) Decide what is important to you as an individual. For example: Exercising.

2) Develop ways to nurture your personal priorities. This might happen on daily weekly or even monthly. For example, every Friday morning, before your workday starts, you might spend two hours reading.

3) Respect your routines and rituals as important to the overall health of your family. Children feed from the energy you give them. For example, you might arrange for a neighbor to watch your child while you exercise.

In children, providing this sense of control helps develop self-esteem. Routines give children something to trust and to count on. Routines help children feel good about who they are and what they are doing. Giving a child a sense of control is key to gaining cooperation. Allowing children to feel in control gives them the power to make choices.

Guidelines to developing routines with your child

  • Develop a list of absolutes

    — things you expect from your child. Knowing these, you can negotiate about things that are not absolutes. That helps to avoid frequent power struggles. There will be times when you can be flexible in your approach to discipline, and times when an issue is non-negotiable.
    Example: You have decided that getting your child dressed in the morning is not an absolute because your child care provider has offered to help your child dress after you leave. The time you used to spend with your child struggling, you now spend cuddling and reading stories.

  • Use routines as a loose plan rather than rigid guidelines.

    Example: Your child usually goes for nap at 12:30, but today you stretched it until 1:15 because your child was having a wonderful time at the park.

  • Be consistent with the routines you establish, while remaining flexible enough to respond to the individual circumstances of each situation.

    Example: You plan a visit to the aquarium in the early morning so your child will be home for a nap.

How can I establish a bedtime routine?

Change from day clothes to nightclothes. Say good night together to family members. When you get to the crib, sing or say the same things every night when you put him/her in the crib. Keep the routine simple and uncomplicated, as your baby will expect a lengthy routine every night when he/she gets older.

Can I make bathing part of the bedtime routine?

You can include this as a bedtime routine as soon as you like. If your baby is on solids, stools will be smellier and bulkier and a daily bath is a good idea. If your baby enjoys a bath and finds it relaxing without being too stimulating, you can make it part of the usual early evening routine.

How can I make bedtime easier for my 1 year old?

Infants and toddlers gain security through predictable routines. A predictable routine is helpful when getting mobile infants and toddlers ready for bed. Decide what will be included in the routine and in what sequence; for example, bathe then brush teeth, then storytime. Counting down time and talking your child through the sequence eases the transition. Set a routine with boundaries, stick to the routine and provide verbal explanations about what is happening next to help make going to bed a pleasure.