Have you ever wondered what you could do to make life easier with young kids? Probably, haven’t we all wondered that at some point? Here’s the secret, having a structure to your day and maintaining a predictable routine help a ton. Learn why structure & routine are the secret to making life easier with young kids.
Why do young children need structure and routine?
Young kids may test us and want to see what they can get away with, but they like structure and rules to be enforced. They may try to test you, they may try to push boundaries (especially around ages 3 & 4), but they need you to maintain boundaries and structure to feel safe.
Young kids thrive on structure and routines because it helps them anticipate what’s going to happen next.
For instance, having a consistent morning routine can help you all get out the door with fewer tears and less stress because kids know what to do. Doing things in order every day makes it easier for the kids to know what’s next. In time, they’ll be able to move through the steps without as much assistance from mom or dad.
A sample morning routine might look like this:
- Get up
- Go potty
- Eat breakfast
- Brush teeth
- Get dressed
- Pack lunch
- Go to school
How a morning or evening routine helps
Having a routine that your kids know and can anticipate being the same every day makes it easier for them to stay focused and moving forward towards the end goal, which is getting out the door on time with everything they need (including lunchboxes and shoes!).
Does our routine have to be the same every day?
You may want to have a different routine on weekends or holiday break periods, and that’s OK too. Maybe you want to make a big weekend breakfast or eat lunch on the back patio on the weekends. Or you want the kids to sleep in a bit later on the weekend or break mornings. Maybe they bathe every other day on the weekend instead of every day.
You can change things up on weekends or break periods. Communicate with your kids that this is what we do on Saturday or what we do on vacation and talk about how it’s a bit different from other days. They may even have ideas about what they’d like to do that’s different for a vacation day or weekend.
What other routines can help?
In addition to a morning routine, you’ll want to set and follow an evening routine to help your kids prepare for bed. You want to avoid electronics for the last hour or two before they go to bed, so they can fall asleep faster and sleep better at night.
Your evening routine can start when you get home from school or start after dinner. It’s up to you. You can decide if you want the kids to have free time to play or watch a movie while preparing dinner.
Your evening routine might look like this:
- Free play/movie during dinner prep
- Eat dinner
You can adjust based on what’s best for your family.
When is the right time to add structure & routine(s)?
If you’re finding yourself frustrated with your kiddos or you’re tired of fighting them to do things like getting ready to go to school, clean up their toys, get ready for bed, try to add a bit more structure to their day or week, and see if doing that and creating routines for daily activities help.
Take a look at your current schedule and see what structure and routines you’ve already established. If they’re working, keep them. If they need a bit of adjusting, work with them a bit to see what works best for your family.
Can you change your routine?
You may need to have a different routine some nights if the kids are in after-school activities. Maybe you have soccer on Tuesdays and stop for pizza on the way home, so by the time you get home, the kids jump in the bath and put jammies on. Maybe they shower after swim lessons and are done when they get home on Thursday. As long as the kids can predict what happens after the activities, they’ll be OK. You can determine what you want to do for your family and make things work the best they can for you.
Try adding a bit more structure and creating some routines for your family and see if it helps reduce the number of tears or fights in your home too. Kids need us to show them what we expect and help them understand what they’re expected to do. Providing structure and routines helps them feel safer and connected. You’ll likely find life feels easier for everyone when it’s a bit more predictable.