Making routines for kids that bend, but don’t break
As I often do this time of year, I have been revising our routines. In the process of doing this it has become clear to me, that while there are many pieces that come together to make a smooth day, some of them are linchpins – those pieces of the routines around which other things need to bend.
What do I mean by this? Well, there are some pieces of my routine that I can skip with no real problem (notice I said skip not try to catch up). There are other parts of my routine with the kids, that if skipped can completely derail the day. Figuring out which of these pieces are which has been a process of trial and error, but now that I am aware of it I am able to really use this information to my advantage.
Flexibility without losing your whole routine
- Routine linchpins allow me to make an educated decision about what to drop when things go amiss. I can prioritize what has to happen and let go of some of the other pieces without guilt or panic that everything will fall apart.
- I am better able to consider the timing of interruptions (such as a doctor appointment or errand) and work it into our day, skipping the parts of our routine that can be skipped and sticking to those pieces which are linchpins.
- If part of our day gets unexpectedly off course, I can skip some of the things on my to-do list and get back on track by starting at one of my the linchpin. My kids feel more calm because they know what comes next.
For instance, two linchpins in my day are the timing of breakfast and dinner; if we don’t sit down to eat breakfast by 9:00 and dinner by 6:30 the rest of my routine can get off kilter quickly. Consequently, being home and available to prep these meals is essential. If we eat a late lunch, skip afternoon pick up or quiet reading, however, it doesn’t make our day feel too chaotic and we can move on without the whole routine falling apart – timing of lunch isn’t really a linchpin for us.
Keeping my routines flexible helps me stick with them. Although I am a person who thrives on routines, I have been challenged (to put it lightly) to implement them. One of the challenges I face is that as soon as I hit a road bump or two I feel like my routines are irrelevant and out the window they go. In adopting flexibility together with routine linchpins, I feel less like a failure when things don’t happen as planned, and I experience success as I make educated decisions about what to drop.
Those tiny moments of success help me stick to my routine even when we hit the inevitable road bumps or a day that seems beset by chaos.
So what are the routine linchpins in your day? What makes or breaks your routine with your kids?
You may also be interested in:
- Choosing a good alarm clock for kids
- Making a kid cleaning routine
- What to do when you’re starting a new family routine to smooth transition