‘Your first obligation as a parent is to not bring chaos into your kids’ lives.’
OK, I should’ve written this before I started on the other posts about routines. I didn’t realize, until I was writing another post, how complicated and daunting routines can seem. Truth be told we all have some kind of routine already.
Think about what you do every morning. You wake up, shower, get dressed, brush your teeth, fix your hair, etc. We know that we have certain things that need to get done in a certain order everyday. So start there.
Just start out with a couple things for your morning and bedtime routines, then add a couple more tasks at a time. Don’t get too complicated or you’ll just exhaust yourself trying to keep up. Don’t compare your routines to mine and think it isn’t enough or that it is too much. The routines will vary from household to household, family to family, and day to day.
My routines are more of a guideline for me. I have bad days, I oversleep, sometimes my brain is in a fog and just won’t function. So for me, my routines keep me on track. I can refer back to them to make sure I haven’t forgotten something important.
Also I have a special needs child who thrives on routines and schedules. He doesn’t like change and he wants everything to be pretty much the same everyday. I mean, if it were up to him we would eat the same thing for every meal, every day! That would really simplify things a lot but it wouldn’t make everybody happy at all.
Change is scary, it is inevitable, but still scary. For kids change can cause a lot of stress. So while there are always things that are beyond my control and things will change around us I try to keep things as calm as I can here.
Without routines our house would be an unorganized chaotic mess in every sense. One of my goals is to create a calm and peaceful environment where everyone will feel invited, welcomed, loved, and accepted. My routines are helping to achieve this goal.
The routines also benefit the other family members as well. As they have grown they are each responsible for helping with certain routines, aka chores, and they just accept that as part of our normal everyday life. It also helps to create a stable environment for them as they know what to expect.
It helps to eliminate some of the issues we have with DD9 who has Oppositional Defiant Disorder. She knows our routines and she knows what is expected of her and of everyone else. By having consistent routines and expectations it keeps her from interpreting things as an opportunity for a power struggle.
Our routines also encourage the kids to work together to get everything tidied up. I try my best to lead by example when I pick up after myself. This rubs off on the littles and encourages them to be responsible for cleaning up after themselves.
They all develop a higher self esteem by being able to accomplish age related activities that have been incorporated into our daily routines as well. When they work together to accomplish a specific task it also creates a stronger family bond and strengthens the relationships between all family members.
Another benefit to my routines is that I can get away, if I need to, and I know that my kids will be OK. I do have a basic print out of our routines that I keep on hand for when I do need to be away. Granted that doesn’t happen much but it can and does happen. So no matter who is left in charge they have the routines to refer too.
This makes it easier for them as a house full kids can get overwhelming quicker than you can do a head count. It also make it easier for the kids as they will be comfortable when the basic routines are followed. Can you imagine coming into my house and not knowing who needs to do what or even what needs doing? Yeah, it could downhill rather fast. What would happen if you had to go away, unexpectedly, for a day or two? Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable knowing that whoever is caring for your family and your house knows your routines? I would.
Honestly, when everyone works together life just goes so much easier. Yes, we still have messes and we still have little people who don’t want to help out. These are going to happen. When you first start using a routine schedule you will probably experience some rebellion. Don’t give up and try to stick it out because it is so worth it in the end.
Please be sure to check out the FlyLady’s website for more information on starting your routines.
Below is an example of an old routine schedule I had:
This is just an example of how I planned out my mornings. This was pre-homeschooling, when my husband worked night shift, and I still had 8 kids at home! A lot has changed since then.
Then at one point my husband had decided that he and the kids wanted to help out more. He said they just didn’t know what needed done and they needed a list. I sat down and typed up some lists, laminated them and put them on a ring so they could hang up in an easily accessible place. While this was a good idea it didn’t work as noone wanted to read it.
Maybe I went overboard but I wanted to make it as simple as I could. There were other pages listed as ‘Weekly Routines’, ‘Zone Cleaning Checklist’, and ‘Hot Spot Fire Drills’.
I had even divided the zone chores up by day of the month:
Simple? Well, I thought it was at the time. Effective? Yes, as evidenced by the fact that I still have it hanging up. The only thing now is that I don’t have as many older helpers to be able to let the little helpers ‘shadow’ them. Most of my littles can’t read either so that kind of defeats the purpose of having it typed out.
(Please ignore the fact that I have 2 meals for dinner. A lot of times we do a weenie roast for the kids but the weather is a little cooler and I decided against it today.)