I am a creature of habit. This is a great and a not so great trait in equal parts. It is great because my children, especially my son with special needs, thrives on routine. Him knowing what is happening and how it’s going to happen saves us from a lot of meltdowns. On the flip side, if our routine changes, it can cause devastation.
Routines however allow our children to feel comfortable in their world. When so much is out of their control, it is reassuring to them to know what to expect. By maintaining a routine (as much as possible) we are reiterating to our children that we are reliable and can be trusted.
People, especially children, bond with those whom they can trust. When someone says they are going to do something and they do it, a bond is formed through that trust. When it continues to happen, the bond strengthens and grows..
Let’s be realistic though, we are not always able to maintain our routine. A wrench is thrown into your day when someone gets sick or there is an emergency meeting at work. Life happens. We all know and understand that, but we can help alleviate the confusion for our children by communicating openly. When you are aware that the typical day will be altered, let them know. Give your children a heads up when there is a change of plans allowing them to mentally prepare for the difference.
I appreciate this as an adult so why would a child not also appreciate it? I don’t prefer to have a meeting sprung upon me in the last hour of my work day and I don’t want to have to cook dinner if we were planning on going out. If I have time to mentally prepare and change my plans, though, the disappointment and stress is much less powerful.
Allow for bonding moments with your children by maintaining routines as much as possible. This will make not only your life run more smoothly, but will ease your children’s stress.