From: Carla Cotterill – Under three co-ordinator

Tip: R is for Routines

Since the day you became a parent, or even when you awaited your little one’s arrival, the word ‘Routine” was probably being said to you endlessly. Routines are fantastic for both child and parent to ensure a calmer home environment and leave your little one feeling more secure. But with endless books, mummy-groups, experts and friends sharing their own ways of parenting you can sometimes feel a little lost and overloaded with information.

We are by no means experts and would never want to say this is the way to do it, but giving your child some routine will make all family members feel more comfortable as they know what to expect and when.

Here are just a few tips we found useful and would like to share with you:

Benefits:

Children are always less anxious and worried when they feel secure. Mums and Dads have a hectic time, week in week out, so if you can all agree on some structure to your day it can make the morning rush and bedtime wind-down, that little more calm for everyone. Routines are always great too whenever there is any change or transitions taking place, we often find that it even gives children more security when they go on holiday – realising that bedtime is the same as home can prove for an easier first night away for all!

So, what can you do that’s simple and easy?

Ensuring that mundane tasks such as teeth brushing, washing hands, tidying toys away become part of their normal day. We find that tidying toys away before a meal is a great way to empower children to be tidy. Also, we understand that hand-washing can be a daily struggle but if it is just part-and-parcel of going to toilet your child will soon catch on that it’s a must!

Try and plan ahead (we know this is very hard when life is so busy!) but simple tasks like getting bags ready the night before, packing lunches etc can ensure that the next morning is less running and rushing, and more enjoying your breakfast.

Give children some warning – we find that giving them a heads-up that something is set to change in so many minutes, gives a child time to prepare for change.

Using visual props can help too. Why not create a visual timetable for your kitchen, it’s a great crafty-task that can get the whole family involved. From walking the family pet to dad’s football to a sister’s ballet class – drawings and pictures can help a child understand their day to day life as well as what their week ahead looks like.

How to make it work!

For any routine to work, it needs to be the following:

·      Consistent

·      Planned

·      Predictable

·      Regular

We would always suggest you look at the parts of the day you find the most stressful and start adjusting routines there first. Anything to make your days less chaotic and stressful in the long run is surely worth some planning time. For example, introducing a new morning routine by thinking about what times you need to be out of bed and at a nursery on working days.  So, getting things like your child’s clothes, breakfast items and nappy bags ready the night before will hopefully help chaos and conflict. Then keep to an order such as having cuddles, teeth brushing, getting dressed, breakfast and then shoes and coats before leaving the house.

No two families are the same, nor are two children, so please take time to establish a routine that works for you. There is no point in making any changes until you are sure it will aid your daily life rather than hinder it!

Don’t be too rigid

More than anyone here at First Steps, we understand that family life is hectic and can’t often be planned far ahead. So, don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and break the norm. Young children can be helped by a routine that follows a recognizable pattern, but with some flexibility so that they don’t become too rigid. Hopefully, you’ll find with more of a routine, there is also more time in your day for family relaxation and fun!

If parents do wish to know any more information, please contact Ian on hello@firststepspoynton.co.uk or call 01625 859867.