I remember towards the end of my pregnancy, my then-neighbour used to tell me: “routine, routine, routine… this is the key to happy babies and children”.
Back then, I was more focused on finishing up my pregnancy and did not really think anything of it. I politely gave her a smile and a nod not really knowing what to do with this piece of advice.
Little did I know that this was in fact one of the best pieces of advice I could have received. Her words resonated with me very quickly. When we returned home from the hospital, it was time to put these words to practice.
We established a routine pretty much from the very beginning. At first, it was a very simple routine – wake up, change, feed, sleep – kind of routine but the more we progressed, and the more we started incorporating routines throughout the day.
For example, we would have a morning routine, an afternoon routine and a bedtime routine which in-turn started to shape a daily rhythm in our home.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Consistency & Comfort
We found this helped to establish a way to get things done during the day and provided a sense of security.
Studies show, whilst change could be a learning opportunity, children often fear the unknown simply because it can be stressful for them.
A daily rhythm or routine brings consistency, comfort and a sense of calm to your child’s life. The most important thing to remember is that the routine is yours in the sense that must work for you and your family.
As the weeks and months go on, you will start noticing what works and what doesn’t work for your family. Use this time to reflect and adjust your routine to suit your family’s needs. A routine should always be there to help your family in a positive and healthy way, not to slow down or impede it.
Daily repetitive routines help children to know what is coming next which in-turn helps them going by their day in a more relaxed and stress-free manner. This is comforting and reassuring.
WHAT IT MIGHT LOOK LIKE
Your daily routine might include:
- The time between waking up in the morning and getting ready to leave the house for school/daycare/playgroup;
- The time getting lunch or dinner ready, housework, cooking, tidying and cleaning;
- Bath times, mealtimes, snack times and bedtimes;
- Learning time, playtime, outdoor time and family time.
So, why introducing a consistent routine?
Because my friend, it will help your child and their “body clocks” adjust to changing situations throughout the day while remaining calm and relaxed.
When children know what to expect, they will start noticing a pattern throughout the day which will be cues for them to know what will happen next.
This year my son started preschool for the first time. It was at the same centre so he “just” changed class but from his perspective, his whole world changed: not all his friends moved up to preschool at the same time, his teachers were going to change, the class was going to be different, and the drop-off routine was going to be different too.
It was a BIG change from his perspective, so we adjusted our morning routine to help him out.
This is when we started using daily routine cards at home, as well as a weekly routine chart!
So, what are these?
Put simply, daily routine cards are visual cues which can be placed in a specific order representing a series of events throughout a day.
For example, we have cards for our morning routine which include waking up, going to the toilets, preparing breakfast, setting the table, having breakfast, brushing our teeth, getting dressed, packing our bag and leaving the house.
These cards feature a simple picture and few words to explain the activity. The possibilities are endless with daily routine cards. We can also include playdates with friends, playgroups, outdoor play, arts and crafts, going to school, visiting the library, going to swimming classes, visiting friends/family, tidying up, reading, quiet time, bedtime, etc.
These cards allow my son to be independent in his daily routines. It also gives him a sense of confidence and security when able to see for himself what’s coming next; thus, taking away anxiety and removing chaos!
Many behaviour specialists, occupational therapists and other childhood specialists recommend visual timetable and daily schedule as they help children know what to expect from their day.
It helps them learn which day they are on, as well as learning the concepts of “yesterday” and “tomorrow”, “morning” and “afternoon”.
When children know what to expect, their behaviour tends to greatly improve, and their anxiety associated with change can be managed better throughout the day. This is certainly true for my son!
These daily routine cards and weekly timetables also help to learn new words in French which can be repeated over and over every week.
These are a wonderful way to prepare your child for the day and week ahead.
This printable includes over 80 routine cards to create a visual routine which is suited to your family!
How to use the daily routine cards?
I simply printed out our daily routine cards, laminated them and used blu tack to display the cards on my son’s bedroom.
I initially set this up at night while my son was sleeping. Since then, he usually helps me before going to bed to plan the following day ahead so that we are not in so much rush in the morning.
We typically only display specific parts of our day. But you might prefer to display the daily routine cards for the entire day. It is entirely up to you! These are designed on individual cards so that you can pick and use the ones which suit the needs of your child and of your family.
We also have a weekly schedule in the form of a train to show him which day we are on, and what are the main activities for the day. This is particularly helpful because he only goes to preschool three days a week. That way, he can easily visualise and anticipate what will happen.
I would love to hear from you. What do you love about establishing a good routine for your children?