Have you ever wondered why today’s parenting experts are so obsessed with routines and schedules? Why suddenly after YEARS of not paying attention to it are we so hooked on it? The short answer is: it helps your kids function in this big world, the world they don’t know anything about, but are ready to explore. The long answer is: it helps your child understand the time of day, the expectations set for them, how to regulate their big feelings, feel safe, lower their anxiety, and much much more.
Today I want to invite you to dive a bit deeper with me and explore the power of routine for your kids, no matter what age they are.
Let’s start with the most common question: DOES ROUTINE WORK FOR EVERYONE?
The answer is yes. There are age appropriate routines for every age and stage of your child’s life. Adults live their lives based on multiple routines they love and enjoy every day, so why wouldn’t children?
Newborn routines are simple and consist of just a few related activities; toddlers tend to have a main routine and each activity within that routine will be broken down into smaller routines; then older kids, teenagers, and adults have a daily schedule that is made up of routines they come to know instinctively.
But why am I writing about routines, and why do they actually matter?
HOW DO ROUTINES WORK?
Routines aren’t anything different than a set of activities done in the same order every day. It works by letting our body know what time of day it is, what are we getting ready for, and what the plan is for the rest of the day.
For example, your baby’s body knows “after I wake up, I will be fed” - that gives their body a signal to start producing cortisol and stay awake, ready to play; or “after lunch and books, it’s nap time” - this routine gives your baby a signal to start relaxing and produce melatonin because sleep time is coming. As children get older, this might look like the difference between morning routines on days they are at preschool or school compared to those they have at the weekend by having a different breakfast, different outfit, or different morning activity.
Your body knows the difference based on the routine you’re following, and so will your baby.
HOW DOES ROUTINE HELP WITH REGULATING BIG EMOTIONS AND LOWER ANXIETY?
As we all know, big feelings are a part of a child’s development and as parents and caregivers we are there to help them manage these, teaching skills to cope with them and being confident in showing them. Routine can help with this in two ways.
First, we can help our children process their emotions each time they are overwhelmed by using the same steps and approaches. I always recommend starting by asking “What happened?”, then “How can I help you?”. Next, it’s important to respect their answer and whether they want you to be actively involved in the resolution.
Yes, not every age or situation will allow us as caregivers to respond to big emotions in the same way but staying calm and understanding that they are trying so hard to know what is happening around them is always a safe base line for us to establish. Being there with open arms will help to make them feel heard, seen, and understood; this in turn helps their brain to know that you are there to help them, and the questions you are likely to ask so they are more prepared to answer.
Other ways routines help with big emotions is by eliminating the unknown of a new situation, the moment of surprise, and feeling lost within the new surroundings. Eliminating that helps avoids the feeling of being anxious about new and unknown places, people, and situations. This doesn’t mean you can’t take your children to new places and meet new people but you can prepare them for the new people and situations by talking with them, describing what will happen, what they will see, and who they will meet.
HOW DOES ROUTINE HELP ADJUST TO LIFE CHANGES?
This might look like relocation, a new sibling, a new school, a transition between school years and summer - any manner of change can mean a new routine, or disruption to an existing one.
As I mentioned above, routine helps us know what will happen next so during a big life change it is super important to help kids feel safe and familiar. Routine helps us to do that by allowing kids to explore and process new situations and explore new environments while knowing the familiar expectations, boundaries, and daily events.
It takes a little bit of planning, understanding your child, and commitment to being able to navigate big changes yourself while also supporting your little one in the best and most beneficial way for them but trust me, you’ve got this!
HOW CAN ONOCO SUPPORT THE CREATION AND CONSISTENCY OF ROUTINE?
To create an age appropriate and fully personalized routine for your child you need to start with some data about naps, bedtime, wake up time, feeding, and more.
Onoco delivers this - no questions asked - in a simple and user-friendly way.
From there you know what works best for your child and your family, and you can create a permanent routine that everyone who is involved in caring for your child can see and stick to. Onoco also helps you see when you need to change a routine, as it is easy to compare what the routine was with what actually happened and create a new plan which everyone can benefit from.
Routine is a really powerful tool to help your child learn, explore, and take risks in a controlled and safe environment where boundaries and expectations are known to everyone involved no matter which caregiver is watching them.
This guest blog is from Magdalena at Cradle & Crescent - newborn care specialist and pediatric sleep consultant, dedicated to helping parents make informed decisions for their family. Based in Colarado, you can contact Madga via firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a form with your family's requirements here.